Jan 31, 2018 | Sales Best Practices

What Do the Blockchain and B2B Sales Have in Common (And Why It Matters)?

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Joe Vignolo

Senior Content Managing Editor

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Ripple. Cardano. Stellar Lumens.

No, this isn’t the beginning of some Star Trek fan-fiction, although the world of cryptocurrencies would fit right in on an episode of Deep Space Nine.

Most cryptocurrencies are built on a revolutionary technology called the blockchain, which at a high level is an extremely secure, public ledger that is shared and verified by a distributed network of computers.

Still with me?

While the rapidly changing blockchain space can be confusing, there are some valuable insights to be gained, specifically in relation to sales. What makes the blockchain so attractive are the same qualities present in high functioning, effective sales orgs.

Here are the similarities between successful sales processes and the blockchain, why they matter and what the new tech means for the future of sales.

Trust

It’s been written that the blockchain provides “the transfer of trust in a trustless world”. It securely records every transaction that happens on the network, from a few bucks to a few million. That means two people who don’t know each other (and don’t need to know each other) can exchange money without using an intermediary. Using the blockchain to purchase goods or trade value is fast, safe and cuts out the middleman (and his fees).

Salespeople know the role trust plays in the buying process. Potential customers are going to have a hard time signing on the dotted line if they think there’s a chance they’ll get burned. Building rapport, asking appropriate questions and being empathetic to pain points can help you become a trusted advisor. When in doubt, be authentic and provide value.

And as the amount of research prospects do before ever interacting with a rep increases — Forrester found nearly 60% of buyers prefer online research to talking with a salesperson — sales cycles are getting shorter. Often, the first time a prospect hops on a call, they’re in the decision-making phase, ready to say yay or nay to your solution. The less human-to-human interaction there is, the more trust matters. It will likely be the final hurdle to a purchase, and the lack of trust could be a roadblock you can’t steer around. According to Dan Enthoven, Chief Marketing Officer at Enkata, “if a prospective buyer gets any signal that things aren't on the up-and-up, you simply won't have the time to rebuild your credibility.”

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Transparency

Blockchain advocates love to talk about how the technology keeps prying eyes (government or otherwise) away from their transaction history. But at its heart, the blockchain is a public, auditable ledger — indelible and unforgeable. Everyone who uses the blockchain is literally on the same page. Want to make sure your charitable donation gets to the intended recipient? The blockchain can help with that. It’s that visibility, the unrestricted access to information, that people find comforting. And when that access isn’t available — watch out! In the Internet Age, information is king.

In the recent past, sales reps were information gatekeepers. A prospect only knew as much about a product as its website and rep offered up. That allowed sales to present their products in the best possible light, calling attention to all the good and hand-waving the bad.

That’s doesn’t fly anymore.

Prospective buyers are on review sites, reading case studies and chatting about your solutions at meetups. If you hop on a call with a prospect, you better be ready to have an honest conversation about what your product can and cannot do.

Sales teams that are winning left and right are acknowledging their product’s flaws, talking openly about improvements in the pipeline and discussing why customers churn. Reps still ask probing questions, talk benefits and position features, but shortcomings are part of the conversation.

Speed

Removing third parties in transactions cuts out a step and speeds up verification. People are tired of bank transfers taking 2-3 business days. With the blockchain, those transfers can be turbocharged. What used to take days now takes just minutes. The fundamental reduction in friction makes the electronic transfer of value less daunting and ultimately more viable in an era where everything is available on-demand. Leveraging blockchain technology will be a game changer for businesses of all sizes, allowing for quick and secure purchases without the need of payment processors.

The same can be said for sales. Teams that are crushing their number are leveraging technology to shorten the sales cycle and reduce friction.

Sales engagement platforms (Outreach.io), video conferencing tools (Zoom, GoToMeeting) and digital transaction solutions (CPQ, DocuSign, PandaDoc) make it easy for prospective buyers to engage with reps, evaluate tools and make purchases.

And many B2B SaaS providers that cater to startups or SMBs have embraced a self-service model, reducing the friction and speeding up the buying process even further.

To Infinity and Beyond

A lot can be learned from the exponential growth of blockchain tech. It’s worth examining why so many people are drawn to it (other than speculation and making money out of thin air). But B2B sales will change dramatically when companies begin actually adopting blockchain technology, not just its characteristics.

Think about fast, secure payments without the time and cost associated with wire transfers. Or storing sensitive customer data on the blockchain, with military-grade encryption protecting both your customers’ information and your company’s. Or, even more likely, sales will be altered in some way that no one has thought of yet.

How do you think the blockchain will change sales? Let me know in the comments!

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