How to overcome a fear of failure in B2B sales

Posted in B2B sales & distribution.

Failure in many business environments means just that: failure. In B2B sales, however, things are a little different. In fact, failure is a natural — and indeed positive — part of B2B sales. Why? Because if you’re closing every single lead, then chances are you’re not reaching out to enough prospects. Instead, you’re ‘playing it safe’; you’re cherry picking the most qualified leads, and ignoring other potential opportunities. But no matter how natural failure is, it can still be an intense fear for some sales reps.

What is Failure in B2B Sales?

‘Failure’ in terms of B2B sales, can relate to many different issues. A sales rep may be afraid of failing to qualify a lead, and being presented with the dreaded two-letter word: ‘no’. Or it may be a fear of getting the ‘yes’ and failing to meet expectations. It could be a fear of failing to hit targets or earn commission.

Here are some ways to help overcome a fear of failure in B2B sales:

Continue Delivering Value

Remember that modern B2B sales isn’t really about ‘sales’ at all. As strange as it sounds, the ongoing consumerisation of B2B sales means that today’s businesses aren’t just looking for a sale; they’re looking to build relationships and interact and engage with their suppliers. Closing deals is just one part of the process, so if you’re not achieving that, it’s time to look into other ways you can bring value to the business; developing a new outreach programme, conducting on-site visits, client analysis, and so on.

Understand Your Role

Modern B2B sales has come a long way from the days of the pushy reps who wouldn’t take no for an answer. In fact, many businesses are starting to focus less on outbound sales, and more on inbound sales, thanks to new techniques such as content marketing and digital advertising that bring clients to you, not the other way around. Businesses that contact you are doing so because they want to, and they know that you have the potential to help them achieve their goals. Failure isn’t personal; it’s fact-driven.

Everyone Sells, Everyone Fails

If you’re working in B2B sales — a direct revenue-generating department of the business — you may feel that you’re at greater risk not only of failure, but of the impact of failure, too. Today, this simply isn’t true. In fact, there’s a book by author Daniel Pink (‘To Sell is Human’) which estimates that 40% of ANY professional’s time is spent on sales; selling ideas, selling problem-solving solutions, selling new processes or approaches. Everyone sells, and everyone will fail at some point. You’re not alone.

A Chance to Learn

In B2B sales, we can look at failure in one of two ways. We can see a failure as a failure, or we can see a failure as a unique chance to learn. If you fail to qualify a lead, don’t simply close the book. Instead, ask yourself why you didn’t close; why you weren’t the right option on this particular occasion. While examining our weaknesses can be difficult to do, the advantage is that it creates insight, offers a chance for you to reevaluate, and provides the opportunity to tweak processes for a better result.