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Three Stats That Prove Customers Are Leading You On

Sales teams faced with stalling deals and shrinking margins need to realize that customer behavior is as much a factor as anything they're doing right or wrong

Many of the world’s B2B sales teams are frustrated by stalling deals. In fact, only 28% of sales leaders report that their existing account channels regularly meet growth targets, according to CEB data.

The typical response to a big business problem like this is to reflect on what certain teams – or the company as a whole – are doing wrong. But the firms that are making headway in a tricky sales environment are those that understand they’re only a part of the problem.

They realize that it’s just as important to understand what customers find tough about making purchase decisions, regardless of whether a supplier is involved or not (Brent Adamson explains more in these two videos: part 1 and part 2).

Supplier Beware – Three Things to Watch Out For

For the sales teams who are still working through this shift in the sales environment, their reps tend to pursue each and every sales opportunity with equal vigor. They tend to see ongoing exchanges with customers – such as requests for more information, interactions with specialists, and requests for RFP/price quotations – as signs that customers are engaged and moving forward in their decision to purchase from them as a supplier.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, customers often drag sellers along – despite having already decided to go with another supplier. Based on data from surveying thousands of B2B customers over the years, three statistics show how customer behavior can waste reps’ time, money, and effort.

Sales teams should use each of these to help their sellers understand why they should progressively disqualify rather than wait for customers to naturally opt out of the funnel.

  1. They want something for nothing: Over half – 53% – say they speak to suppliers they have no intention of buying anything from, in order to gain additional insight and pricing info.

  2. They play you along: Two thirds say they continue to engage with a losing supplier even after the winning supplier has become their likely choice.

  3. They take too long to make a decision: The two sins above are exacerbated by the fact that B2B customers take almost as long to decide not to purchase as they do to make a purchase.

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