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Irrefutable Proof Of The Death Of B2B Sales (As We Know It)

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.” W Edwards Deming

Seers have been prophesizing the end of the world of traditional B2B Sales for a while now. Despite that, there are people on both sides of the fence, each with equally strong convictions. In most cases, their belief in their cause is based on their personal experience. But there is a statistical danger in relying solely on personal experience. A personal experience represents just one instance, and as the data scientists will tell you, one example is not data. This post is an attempt to present strong evidence for the unfortunate demise of B2B Sales.

So, let’s start with some questions for the B2B Sales leaders out there reading this.

  1. Are you having far fewer early stage conversations that you used to even a couple of years ago?
  2. Are you not talking to as many “new” prospects as you used to?
  3. Are you frustrated by somehow being less able to ”influence” the pace of the sales process? Do some sales rush along at an extremely accelerated rate, seemingly under their own steam, and others never seem to progress beyond the initial evaluation?
  4. Are responses to your email campaigns tanking?
  5. Are your cold calls unable to get you the initial meetings you need to fill your pipeline? Is the no. of incoming leads from your website spiraling downwards despite your best efforts on Google? Be honest, did you answer “Yes” to most or all of those?

I recently presented a webinar on “The death of B2B Sales and what you can do to save it.” (A recording of the webinar is available here for those inclined to dive deeper into the reasons behind the passing and a possible path to resurrection.)

Here are some stats and what I think they mean. The stats presented here emerged from the research I put in while preparing for the webinar.

Fact 1

Only 19% of buyers want to connect during the awareness stage of the buying process, 60% want to connect after they have done their research and come up with a shortlist, and 20% only after they have already decided what to buy. (Hubspot).

Clearly, there is a sharp reduction in the opportunity for B2B Sales pros to engage early in the sales process and kick off a consultative sales process.

Fact 2

Customers rate the salesperson as the least influential interaction in the buying process. (Gartner).

Well, of course, given the numbers at #1.

Fact 3

84% of buyers now start their buying process with a referral. (HBR).

Really what chance does your cold outreach have of being successful in such a scenario?

Fact 4

90% of C-Level executives “never respond” to cold calls (InsideView).

That cold calling campaign is not looking too good now, is it?

Fact 5

Only 0.3% of cold calls generate even preliminary appointments. So, you would have to make 1500 calls for 4-5 meetings (Baylor University).

Is hiring an army of callers an option?

Fact 6

In the Technology industry, only 12% of emails get opened and only 6% of those generate “clicks” (Constant Contact). That’s about 1 click every 150 emails, give or take.

I know, you thought cold emails were an option -unfortunately not at any scale.

So, what does this mean for those of us who have made a living in B2B Sales? Well, the truth, like the data, is out there.

Impact 1

The average SDR performs 94 activities per day (SalesForLife), but only 21% of their day is spent talking to prospects (HubSpot)

Impact 2

57% of salespeople believe that buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process (HubSpot)

Impact 3

55% of sales reps don’t have the right skills to be successful (the Brevet Group).

Impact 4

1 million sales reps will be out of a job by 2020 (Forrester) -will your name be on that list?

So, there you have it. Proof positive that B2B Sales, at least the way we grizzled veterans have always practiced it, is going the way of the dinosaurs. This is not a drill folks, it’s time to take this seriously. That said, this is not the end of the road. B2B Sales pros are nothing if not resilient in the face of tough odds. It’s time for the tough to get going. The way forward is hard -but it must be taken!

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