Have you ever been in the middle of an enterprise deal and wondered if you’d ever cross the finish line? You spend countless hours prospecting and relationship-building over the course of months or even years to make it happen.
Enterprises sales takes focus, endurance, and grit — a lot like ultramarathon running. On this episode of the B2B Power Hour, we tackle both topics as Scott Sambucci shares what he’s learned from his years as an enterprise sales coach and an endurance athlete.
Just like getting up every morning to run, the process of learning to sell through consistent practice is where the deal is actually made. And that preparation is far more important than the actual race to close the deal.
Scott points out that the conditions will never be “just right” to sell — it’s your responsibility to step up, own the process, and make it happen.
While you can’t predict which obstacles you will face, you can be sure that you will face them. So you need to commit to finding a way around them and responding intentionally to keep going. Having the right mindset keeps you resilient and focused even when your champion moves on or all you hear is silence.
We dive deep into taking ownership of your sales, how to learn from lost deals, and what it means to commit to the process over and over again. Scott also shares how he coaches startup founders to create repeatability at each level of sales needs (think: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a twist) and adapt to unique situations.
Plus, tune in to hear why “close the deal” just might be a misnomer and how to instill confidence in new customers that you’re a true partner — by setting clear expectations of what happens after they sign.
Featured on the B2B Power Hour: Scott Sambucci
What he does: Founder, CEO and Sales Coach at SalesQualia
Key quote: “If you want to be a successful salesperson, if you’re a startup CEO and you want to run a successful, impactful company, you have to decide from the beginning: This is the place I want to go. You have to set yourself up to be willing to pay that price, regardless of the conditions on any given day.”
B2B Power Plays
Top takeaways from this week’s conversation
👟You can’t predict every obstacle you’ll face, but you can learn to adapt.
Anyone who’s selling day in and day out has to commit to the process. The conditions will never be perfect — from your manager to your market and your product to your pricing — but salespeople need to take ownership and decide from the start that they’ll keep showing up. You won’t know ahead of time which barriers will come your way, but if you develop the skills and intuition to respond to those obstacles, you’ll find the right next step and keep going.
🎓 Sometimes you win the deal, and sometimes you learn from it.
Scott and the SalesQualia team coach startup founders to build repeatable sales processes. Rather than focusing on how to get one particular deal to close, they take a step back and look at the big-picture tools needed to approach each situation.
This is where the five levels of the SalesQualia Hierarchy of Sales Needs comes in. (Think: a pyramid similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.) Scott uses this framework to help clients identify what questions they need to answer and how they can grow on every level.
- Outcome: The top level of the pyramid is your ultimate goal. This might be quota, revenue levels, or customer types you want to sell to.
- Strategy: The next level is the strategy you’ll use to get those customers or reach that revenue level. Strategy includes methods of generating leads, establishing pricing, and running presentations and pipeline.
- Systems: Below your strategy are your systems. To achieve your lead generation strategy, for instance, you might learn to use LinkedIn as your selling system. This level includes building and implementing this system to make it repeatable.
- Skills: Next are the skills needed to put those systems to good use. In our LinkedIn lead gen example, this looks like understanding the tools to use LinkedIn effectively through direct message vs. email. You might also nail down the skill of using Sales Navigator to find the right prospects.
- Situations: The fifth and lowest level are the actual scenarios you face during the selling process: You get a specific response from a lead and assess how to move forward. Whether the deal closes or not, Scott coaches clients to go up a level to determine which skills they need to hone if they face the situation again. If they nail down those skills, they’ll be ready to close next time.
🏁 Closing the deal is the starting line, not the finish.
All too often, we view getting a buyer to sign the contract as the finish line — then we high-five and pat ourselves on the back. But the months or even years you spent to close that deal actually brought you to the start of the customer relationship.
Instead of just popping the champagne, salespeople also need to look ahead to consider the buyer’s experience from the moment they sign. How will you deliver on the support you promised them? What will they experience at key milestones? By letting them know what to expect in the first minute, month, year, etc., you give them confidence moving forward and show that you’re a true partner.
Inflection points from the show
[4:07] Just getting started: In running and in enterprise sales, you have to make a commitment to the process. Scott shares about the choice to show up over and over again.
[15:25] Finishing the race: You can complete all the training in the world, but you’ll never predict exactly what obstacles you’ll face — in running, in sales and in life. So you have to decide that you’re going to find a way through, no matter what happens.
[17:32] Winning or learning: Coaching sales isn’t just about converting or closing a single deal. It’s about building repeatability.
[22:33] Calling an audible: For sports, singing, and sales, having a game plan is essential. But it’s your skills and intuition that will carry you through the unexpected.
[24:10] Taking a few steps back: Scott shares about the role (and challenge) of coaching to help clients identify the skills they lack and the systems they need to adapt to each situation.
[34:33] Start with your headspace: Nick and Morgan dig into the importance of mindset and how they’ve seen mental filters play out in their own sales journeys.
[37:40] Navigating obstacles: When the unpredictable happens — from losing your champion to another company to losing the deal altogether — it’s your job to objectively interpret the information, stay stoic, and decide what to do next.
[40:39] It’s just the beginning: Scott puts his own spin on popping the champagne when you “close the deal.” Instead of viewing that moment as the finish line, he sees it as the starting line of the relationship with that customer.
[42:48] Seven by one: What happens if a prospect signs the contract today? Get clear on what new customers will experience at key milestones (what Scott calls the seven “firsts”).
[52:26] Don’t go hero mode: Taking ownership means tapping into your resources to make sure you have what you need to deliver on what you’re selling.