The way businesses buy from and sell to each other has changed.

First, customers have become more demanding, insisting on more complex, customized solutions—with different levels of sales support. Companies accustomed to selling products and walking away are being forced to prove how they add real value.

Second, companies servicing larger managed accounts are exploring more cost-effective ways to make clients happier and to generate sales growth.

Finally, organizations large and small are following the lead of business-to-consumer (B2C) brands and retailers by making smarter use of customer data to predict behavior, drive sales, and deepen relationships.

Furthermore, contracts for high-value transactions are becoming increasingly complex, often including risk-sharing and service-level agreements as customers ask vendors to “put more skin in the game” to ensure that they stay committed to providing real value.

Addressing B2B Sales Challenges

The challenge is that B2B sales negotiation is not easy; it’s a delicate dance that requires careful steps by both parties, but especially the sales reps.

Your key to negotiation is to focus on results and value and not contracts — aka “more skin in the game.” I can assure you that you will have tremendous success from this approach.

Rather than focus on clicks and impressions, work toward achieving agreed upon ROI metrics with your customers. These vary greatly but can be sales, form submissions, phone calls or any number of other key performance indicators (KPIs).

Learning Opportunities

Don't Lock Them In

Consider using short-term, generally one to three month contracts that offer customers the ability to cancel during such period.  Short-term contracts are valuable for several reasons:

  • Offering an “initial term” for one or two months with the ability to cancel at any time allows you to get a test up and running more easily and demonstrate your capabilities with a customer, plus they are not locked in if the initiative does not work.
  • Short-term contracts make you focus on continuously striving to improve and meet performance objectives. Because if you don’t perform, our services will be terminated immediately.  So these short-term contracts serve as an incentive for everyone in the organization to focus and deliver for each customer.
  • Short-term contracts also generally speed the legal process along, in that the exposure and complexity of the arrangement is not as great as a standard long-term contract or SLA.
  • Of course, in rare cases when things do not work out for any variety of reasons, short-term contracts allow for either party to part ways amicably and quickly. It avoids collection and legal issues that often arise when more formal contracts/SLA’s are involved.

Lastly, if everything goes according to plan and the customer is happy, the contract just continues to roll month-after-month.

If you truly want a transactional business; if you want to partner and have customers for life; if you want to remove friction from the sales process, there is a world where short-term contracts can be easily exchanged for longer healthy engagements.

By focusing on the results at the finish line, your client can see you as a trusted advisor with a shared vision of success.

Title image by Angelina Litvin