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Selling To Peoples Self Interests In B2B Deals Is a Lie

Published 7 months ago • 1 min read

If you sell to multi people decision-making units in a B2B environment, then you need to read this.

I was listening to a B2B 'expert' yesterday telling a group that:

"even though you sell to B2B you are really selling to people" - OK, I agree

"and people are self-interested so you have to sell the things that drive their self-interest"

Hmm, now I'm beginning to disagree.

For simple, 1 or 2 people decision-making unit deals you may be able to get away with that, but when you are talking about more complex group decision-making units this thinking will do more harm than good.

In the book 'the challenger customer', the authors looked at how companies buy.

And more specifically how they buy and how you can overcome the single biggest reason a deal will fail...

Because the PERCEIVED pain of change is greater than the status quo.

To help create an internal change impetus, there are 3 key profiles that star salespeople look to build relationships with

  1. The Go-Getter
  2. The Teacher
  3. The Sceptic

And the ones they either avoid or work with carefully managing the risks are:

  1. The guide
  2. The friend
  3. The climber

The self-professed expert was naively telling people to focus on what the Challenger Customer calls The Climber.

The reality is, that this is one of the worst approaches you can take.

By only appealing to personal self-interest you'll attract The Climber.

Here's what a climber won't do for you:

  • Promote anything that is risky or challenges the status quo - especially if there is a risk it may not work
  • Champion the greater cause of your project

Here's what they are likely to do:

  • Use you up to the point that you are no longer a viable option for their personal gain
  • Use you to leverage concessions from others to make them look good
  • Share your IP with external competitors or internal teams to make themselves look good
  • Drop you like a stone if there is a risk that you could look bad

Successfully selling large projects to multiple stakeholder groups can live or die by who is your advocate on the inside.

It is highly likely if The Climber has been with the company a while then they have made enemies and/or people are sick and tired of their policy of sponsoring projects that serve only to make him look good.

A Climber being your main advocate can do you more damage than good and end up sinking your project before it starts.

So be careful about how you vet your sources of information.

I hope the people that were on the call with me yesterday listening to the advice don't do them and their business too much damage by trying to field test what they were told.

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I’m Peter O'Donoghue, a consultant & advisor to consultants. Enter your email below to get my free "Get Consulting Clients Fast" ultimate guide and video training. And you'll also join 2560+ Consultants to get actionable content on building consulting offers, getting clients and building repeatable marketing systems.

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