Beyond the Sales Process: Relationships Key to B2B Sales


"Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World" is about helping B2B salespeople (and the companies that benefit from their talent) transition into the "Age of the Consumer 2,0". Instead of trying to outpitch your competition, the book argues that readers can do a whole lot better. They can grow space in their "customer's mindshare".

Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World Book Review

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“Because even when you have a successful relationship, it is likely that your customer spends less than 2 percent of their time actively buying from you.”
– -“Steve Anderson and Dave Stein in Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World.

Business-to-business sales are complicated. There’s RFP’s, vendors, suppliers, invoices and the long wait as the “yes” that leads to ink on the contract. Because of this, most B2B sales advice has focused on the sales process and not the relationship. Steve Anderson and Dave Stein author of Beyond the Sales Process think that’s a big opportunity wasted.

What is Beyond the Sales Process About?

Beyond the Sales Process seeks to solve the problem of relationship-building in B2B sales. Often, a B2B company will target a potential business, make their best pitch, and wait for the outcome. If the deal goes through, the sales team celebrates and moves on to the next deal. If the deal doesn’t go through, the sales team moves even quicker to pounce on the next business.

Steve Anderson and Dave Stein believe that B2B sales can and should do better. They argue that B2B salespeople need to get out of the outdated one-sided model and jump into a two-sided relationship where the client business and the business doing the selling provide value to each other. Beyond the Sales Process asserts that traditionally B2B sales were more about the salesperson, than the value added by the sale. In this era where consumers of all types are besieged by content and choices with less and less time, it is all the more critical to establish a growing space customer mindshare, the book’s concept for a “space in your consumer’s brain.”

Getting “customer mindshare” requires a shift in how B2B is performed. That shift begins with the “Engage/Win/Grow” model created by the authors to describe the ideal way that a B2B should engage with a business.The model is a 12-step process that begins before a potential business even knows they need anything (pre-opportunity phase) and ends in a developing relationship based on continuous research, feedback, and value exchanges between both parties.

In short, it’s a guide for “B2B salespeople in the world of Web 2.0.”

Steve Anderson is the owner and founder of Performance Methods Improvement (PMI), a sales improvement consultancy. He started PMI after a 20-year history in sales.

Dave Stein (@davestei) is an author and sales improvement and sales hiring consultant. He also enjoys yoga.

What Was Best About Beyond The Sales Process?

The best part of Beyond the Sales Process is the way this book transitions B2B into the world of Web 2.0 through the use of a simple model. The model may take a little getting used to, but the philosophy behind is crucial for helping B2B sales staff build relationships and not just accounts. As the authors wisely point out, customers have plenty of choices for almost every kind of service or product, so they have to rely on value to narrow down the options. This book’s focus on building value throughout the sales process should help with that.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The “Engage/Win/Grow” model utilized in Beyond the Sales Process is a conceptual view of how B2B sales should go. This is valuable information for any person in a sales management role. For the frontline B2B salesperson, the book needs a little specificity. For example, the book suggests readers do extensive research on their potential clients. That leads to the question: How much research is enough? What happens if things go wrong?

Why Read Beyond the Sales Process?

Beyond the Sales Process is a great book if your business needs to rethink or revisit its B2B strategy. The book taps into the wisdom of two sales experts who provide a simple framework and model to engage with B2B customers on a new two-sided level that builds value to everyone. If you are a sales executive or in sales management, this book will give you plenty to think about. If you are a frontline B2B salesperson, this book will give you a radically new perspective that could change the way you interact with B2B companies.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.