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Big changes needed in B2B Sales, with Skip Miller [Episode 698]

Skip Miller, founder and President of M3 Learning and author of ProActive Selling and Selling Above and Below the Line, joins me again on this episode.


  • In the 1890s, NCR revolutionized industrial selling in the U.S. Industries have revolutionized manufacturing but manufacturing selling is stuck in the same old way. Skip talks about Silicon Valley.
  • Skip says that sales teams’ 90-day sales forecasts have an accuracy of 45% to 50%, their sales cycle length is too long for the price, and the average order size is too low.
  • A close rate of 20% is too low! What if you increased your close rate to 40%? Raising the number of activities is not enough. Make the activities that you do more effective.
  • Ask yourself, what’s the size of the client’s problem you are helping to solve? Have the conversation on the business case well before any proposal or demo. Qualify the prospects before selling to them.
  • Selling is not about giving discounts. Do an ROI on discounts and spiffs. Change your paradigms. If the management demands 90% forecast accuracy, they get it.
  • Measure salespeople on the accuracy of their forecasting. Don’t give your reps the incentive to put garbage into the pipeline. Andy remembers learning to qualify early on. Skip mentions the necessity of disqualifying deals.
  • If the buyer can’t quantify in dollars the outcome they want to achieve, then they haven’t made the decision to change, yet. What are the problems they are trying to fix, and what will bridge the gap? Can you help them get to it?
  • Think about the amount of time your reps spend on deals that just would never close. Great sales managers define the standard qualifications required at each funnel stage. Managers have not been trained how to set expectations.
  • Salespeople must prospect and ask for referrals unless all their time is filled with good leads they can qualify. Skip talks about getting referrals in client meetings. 20% to 30% of a salesperson’s pipeline should generate itself.
  • Managers need to put a culture together of expectations. This will swing us away from methods we have used for over a century. Get salespeople out visiting their clients.
  • A sense of urgency comes from the culture the managers create. Managers can set the standard of prospecting for 20% to 30% of the day.
  • You can’t create customer urgency. When they are ready to buy, they will feel the urgency in the C-suite. A client who is meeting their goals has no urgency to change. Learn their business goals and if you can solve them.