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B2B Sales Reps Are Out of Sync With Buyers, But Is Marketing at Fault?

by Bruce Scheer  |  
May 3, 2017

Only 40% of sales organizations clearly understand a customer's issues before proposing a solution, according to Miller Heiman Group. Moreover, 90% of selling content is never used in selling, and 58% of the sales pipeline ends up in "no decision" or stalled deals because Sales has not presented value effectively, according to QVidian.


That's three strikes against sales effectiveness: Sales reps…

  1. Don't understand the buyer's world and associated needs
  2. Aren't using the selling content they're provided
  3. Don't know how to communicate real value to the buyer

Whose fault is it... the sellers'? They often get the blame: They don't hit their quota (only 63% of sales reps do), and they are given their marching papers.

Now, this might sound strange, but I think the blame (and opportunity) should center on the marketing function—before it's even time to go to market.

Why Does This Go-to-Market Sales Performance Problem Exist?

Why? Because marketing organizations aren't taking the time to position the solutions that they want to go to market with—to make sure that they are in tune with the value prospects want.

In fact, one of my firm's partners, Lawson Abinanti from Messages That Matter, completed a study that found 57% of technology and software marketers don't have a formal process for positioning. Fully 53% of the participants admitted that they don't think they do enough research during the positioning process, and 45% don't think they spend enough time on positioning. As a result, there's "me too" positioning, messaging around commodity benefits (instead of unconsidered needs that can drive an unexpected urgency), and talk of "transformations" that have no business value to IT buyers.

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Bruce Scheer is president of FutureSight, provider of go-to-market revenue enablement services. He also heads up the Go-to-Market Sales and Revenue Enablement Group LinkedIn community.

LinkedIn: Bruce Scheer

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  • by Ben Wed May 3, 2017 via web

    This is an excellent article! I totally agree with what you wrote in this piece and I relate to the numbers you mentioned.

    90% of the sales reps do not use the content they are provided. Does it mean that 90% of the sales are lazy, dumb or unprofessional? Or does it mean that 90% of the content does not add value to the client that's why the sales reps do not use it?

    I have worked in B2B for 8 years and I can tell that Marketing and Sales team are very often disconnected - and the ideal collaboration that every leader are seeking, is just wishful thinking.

    I wrote piece on why the sales team should lead the marketing in B2B. I'd like to have your opinion on that, is there any way I can share the link with you?



  • by John A. Fri May 5, 2017 via web

    @Benoît Pétry, I think you've got an excellent point on the content and value comment. So much of what is distributed as sales content is too "salesy" for many customers. Salesy is OK if you have data to back up the claims. I'd be interested in reading the pc you wrote if you can post a link or the actual text. Thanks!

  • by Ben Fri May 5, 2017 via web

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your reply. Here the link to the post I mentioned:

    Because in B2B, the Marketing Team can't convert - which means they do not have access of the data of all the stages of the customer journey, they are producing content that is often not relevant. That's why, the sales team should lead the marketing team for the content production and customer journey mapping.

  • by Brooke Harper Sun May 7, 2017 via web

    Great point, Bruce! I think the blame should center on the marketing function. because marketing isn’t taking the time to position the solutions and make sure that they are in tune with the value prospects want. Thanks for sharing!

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