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The Ultimate Missed Opportunity for B2B Sales Professionals: The Customer Strategic Planning Cycle

During my career as a buy-side executive, B2B sales professionals rarely expressed interest in my company’s strategic planning process. That surprised me. In my current role helping sales teams understand customer executive mindset and perspective, I’ve confirmed my fears: most B2B sales professionals are not engaged in their customer’s strategic planning cycle.

In my view this represents the ultimate missed opportunity to influence the customer’s investment decision process. So, why are B2B sales professionals M.I.A.?

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The Post-Financial Crisis B2B Sales Professional


We’ve come a long way back from the depths of the global financial crisis. There have been many lessons learned on both sides of the buy/sell equation. For B2B sales professionals, this much should be abundantly clear: it’s a changed sales environment.

A Changed Sales Environment

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“Pain-full” Discussions For Customer Executives

An Executive Encounter

Sales Professional (SP): Thanks for agreeing to meet with me.  I understand you spoke to Robert, a mutual friend.

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Technology Investment Decisions Are Being Kicked UP and OVER

If you’re not convinced that customers of technology solutions are adapting to a new market reality, listen to what SAP, one of the largest technology purveyors in the world, said in the first paragraph of the CEO’s Letter to Shareholders in their most recent annual report.

“The past year was marked by changes to the business environment, as customers adapted to a new market reality. Customer buying behavior shifted to an emphasis on smaller transactions and projects with immediate return; decision making moved increasingly to line of business executives and away from the traditional IT power base of the CIO; and there were increased requirements for solutions to help CEOs, COOs, and CFOs manage performance, compliance, and gain more business insight for faster decision making.”

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5 Ideas to Improve Your Executive Relevancy in 2011

How relevant are you to your customer executives? What would they say about you and your company? Do they need you as much as you need them? Is there interdependence?

Many sales professionals confide in me that they don’t know the answers to these questions. They do recognize the negative consequences of beingirrelevant to customer executives and far from the radar screen.

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