Is B2B Buyer Confidence Stalling Your Deals? with Brent Adamson (S3:Ep16)

Nov 22, 2022 | Sales Talk for CEOs Podcast

My next guest on Sales Talk For CEOs is Brent Adamson, who has some revolutionary ideas about B2B enterprise selling.

Brent explains decision maker confidence is the main barrier for B2B teams to close deals. The three factors eroding confidence are complexity, information overload, and value opacity or consensus on the value of the desired outcome.

So stop selling product benefits. You need to propose a framework that starts with consensus on the value that the solution will deliver and builds a picture of the steps, and barriers to delivering that value.

By the same measure, help the customer make the best decision and if that’s not your product, get to that answer as quickly as possible.

Stick around to learn what your sales teams need to do to overcome this crisis of confidence.

Watch the podcast below or on our YouTube channel.

Highlights of this Episode:

[5:48] The number one thing we need to solve in B2B commerce is customers’ lack of confidence in their ability to make complex decisions on behalf of their company.

[6:12] There are three forces eroding buyer decision making confidence: complexity, information overload and value opacity (outcome clarity)

[8:16] The value discussion has to start significantly farther upstream than your capability or benefits.

[10:24] (the old way of selling) was based on this idea of frame breaking. You map a customer’s mental model of how their business works, and you find places to displace or disrupt that model to break that frame and show them a better, different way to think about their business.

[11:12] I think there’s an opportunity for us today to move from frame breaking to frame making.

[11:59] Travel agents went out of business because I could do it all online. And all of a sudden, I tried to do it online and was overwhelmed. And I realized, you know what I need? I need a travel agent.

[13:15] Now they’re stuck and really frustrated. What if you were the company that helped them anticipate that obstacle, helped them avoid it to begin with? What if you took them by the hand and guided them through a decision-making process, gave them a heads up? By the way, the phrase I use all the time, “in working with other customers like you, one of the things we’ve found is…”

[15:17] Let’s see if we can, in our case through software, put a framework around, okay, what are you trying to do? Why is that valuable? By the way, do your three colleagues agree with you that that’s what they’re trying to do?

[20:49] …notice everything we’re talking about here isn’t about selling and buying, it’s about humanity.

[32:35] A faster close comes from confident customers. There’s our bumper sticker.

[34:04] Because if we’re going to lose, we want to lose early so we can move on to better opportunities.

About Our Guest:

Brent Adamson is a world-renown researcher, author, presenter, trainer, and advisor to B2B commercial executives around the world.

Known as having the “biggest crystal ball in B2B sales,” Brent is the co-author of the best-selling, industry changing The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer.  He is also a frequent contributor to well-known business publications, including the Harvard Business Review, featuring his recent articles, “Sensemaking for Sales” and “Traditional B2B Sales and Marketing Are Becoming Obsolete.”

Across the last 19 years, Brent has been privileged to work with some of the greatest thought leaders in B2B and B2C sales and marketing, building and leading exclusive communities of highly progressive commercial executives.  Known as a world-class facilitator and speaker, Brent has presented to tens of thousands of commercial leaders both in-person and virtually all over the world, ranging from executive leadership teams to large keynote audiences.

Especially well known for his passion for “productive disruption,” Brent served as the “chief story teller” for CEB, now Gartner’s, sales, marketing, and customer service practices from 2003 to 2022.  Across that time, Brent’s research has focused most closely on the critical, boundary-spanning intersection of selling and buying, seeking to understand the rapidly changing nature of effective commercial collaboration.  Most recently, Brent and his colleagues at CEB, now Gartner, have introduced industry-leading concepts such as Buyer Enablement, Sense Making, and Customer Decision Confidence.   As of June 1, 2022, Brent now services as the Global Head of Research and Communities at Ecosystems, a cutting-edge SaaS platform designed to help companies identify and track dimensions of value creation with their customers.

A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Brent received his MBA with distinction from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Prior to that, he served on the faculty of Michigan State University as a Professor of German and Applied Linguistics. In addition to his MBA, Brent holds a B.A. with distinction in political science from the University of Michigan along with M.A.s in political science and German, and a Ph.D. in applied linguistics from the University of Texas. Brent resides in Leesburg, VA with his wife, two daughters, and rescue dog.

Show Links:

Value Blueprint Download

HBR Articles:
End of Sales and Marketing:
Sensemaking for Sales:
Interview with SMART Technologies on how they built a unified commercial engine

You can learn more about and connect with Alice Heiman in the links below.



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