Keep an eye on the entire business for successful B2B selling


For instance, it is easy to miss the M-PESA paybill number at a Java restaurant. Oh, it’s there; on the table and the counter. But we are accustomed to looking for the colour green

To remain successful as a business-to-business (B2B) seller, always keep your eye on the 7Ps. Popularized as the marketing mix, the 7Ps are useful to assessing a business too. The 7Ps are product, price, place (distribution), promotion (marketing), physical evidence (proof of existence, for instance, a website), process and people (staff). Every business rotates around these Ps. And though titled differently, they do not operate in silos but are interdependent. For instance, whatever is made (product or service), must be priced, advertised (via a promotion or the physical evidence of, say, a brochure or demonstration) and sold (by sales people); how and where customers access it (process and distribution) will matter too if the business is to sell successfully.

Ignoring this co-dependence frustrates the B2B sale. When the seller is insisting that his lift (product) is the best, the buyer could be in agreement but is concerned that the seller’s need for an LPO is inconsistent with their buying process; or, the buyer wants proof beyond the demo video to seeing a prototype (physical evidence) that your lift increases the privacy of the passengers by camouflaging itself because it changes colours like a chameleon! Or, it could be that the price is outside his budget, or, surprise, surprise, it is below it! Yes.  At times, superior price is associated with superior quality. A client once shared how they lost a sale because the price they had quoted for executive coaching (a service) was less than half what the business expected. Based purely on price, the buyer went with a competitor who, service for service, was inferior to my client’s! It gets better. Keeping an eye on the 7Ps and knowing the buyer, the competitor had quoted in dollars which only affirmed the ‘superiority’ sought. And here’s the clincher: he ‘borrowed’ coaches (people) from my client to deliver the superior service. The price and product could be right but not the promotion. For instance, it is easy to miss the M-PESA paybill number at a Java restaurant. Oh, it’s there; on the table and the counter. But we are accustomed to looking for the colour green (promotion, branding) which is not screaming at any Java House; brown is what is consistent with the Java brand. Wisely, for the sake of the sale, Safaricom did not insist on the green to scream as it does in most other outlets.

Evidently, the consideration of the 7Ps is double-edged. Your process could be right but not for the client, for instance. For this reason, while thinking through the sale, consider both your and the buyer’s Ps. Aligning the loan repayment for a school to its termly fees collection, instead of insisting it must be monthly, is demonstrating sensitivity to the 7Ps and accelerating the sale to a close. Conversely, knowing their 120-day payment period will kill your small business, helps you refine your pitch or question it’s need altogether.

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