#salesfail: 3 Gripes Buyers Have with B2B Sales & Marketing

August 10, 2017 | Melissa Nazar


We just wrapped up some research with our friends at Heinz Marketing looking at the differences between generational preferences on B2B buying committees – how Millennials buy vs. Gen Xers vs. Baby Boomers etc.


More than 500 people responded, all with some level of B2B decision-making influence and/or authority. Results of that research will be released soon (we even have a webinar coming up you can sign up for).


One of the most interesting questions we asked was an open response: What do you hate most about sales and marketing?


Boy, did we get an earful.




Buyers are tired of the standard marketing and sales playbook – that came across loud and clear. While the research we conducted showed that Millennials are the biggest “sales avoiders,” it turns out that, across generations, everyone is frustrated by some common sales and marketing practices.


We’ve boiled the verbatims we collected down into three major gripes B2B buyers have with sales and marketing.


Cold calls/emails are the worst



The out-of-the-blue call or email from strangers introducing themselves was far and away the most common complaint of of those we surveyed. It makes sense – who wants an unexpected and/or disruptive call or email? Some examples:


“Being called incessantly when I’m not ready to buy. Getting emails that ask if ‘I’m okay’ 14 times when I really am just not interested.”

“Getting a canned email, especially when I didn’t sign up for a mailing list.”

“The constant barrage of communication is annoying and will quickly make me ignore them even more.”

That last comment is perhaps the most frightening of all. Not only do our buyers find unsolicited contact annoying, but sometimes we’ll get tuned out just for the constant communication.


The lesson: Let buyers engage with you on their own terms and stop with the nonstop outreach.


Nothing is personal, no one does their homework



In both marketing and sales, when there’s a large volume of people to follow up with, it can be easy to forget to personalize outreach to a particular buyer’s pain points and needs. This is the root of our next major gripe – non-personal, very generic outreach. Case in point:

“I don’t like when it’s not personal it’s just ‘here’s my product, are you going to buy?’”

“I feel as though I am a part of some targeted campaign and I am typically the wrong audience.”

“No personalization… no understanding of my needs.”

“I don’t want repeated marketing copy. I want detailed answers.”


Connecting with buyers means taking the time to understand their needs rather than relying on generic statements and value points. Prospects and customers have seen it done before, and will only get frustrated with generic approaches.


The lesson: Take the time to do some homework on your buyers so you can better understand how your products and services fit their needs.


Downloading a white paper = buying something



How many times have you downloaded a white paper, only to be called very shortly afterwards by a well-meaning sales rep to ask about your interest? Too many times to count? You’re not alone in being frustrated… take a look at what some of our survey respondents said:


“Just because I download something doesn’t mean I want a call. I will reach out if I need a solution from you.”

“I’m information gathering and I’ll call you if I want to discuss.”

“Just because I downloaded one piece of content does not mean I’m in a buying process.”


The classic B2B playbook – write a white paper, gate it, call relentlessly – isn’t working. And in fact, it’s frustrating to our audiences.


The lesson: Don’t assume that your audience is ready to buy because they’ve downloaded your content. Reach out only when they provide a stronger signal – think demo requests, contact forms, etc.


The bottom line? Our old playbook isn’t working for today’s B2B buying committee. Focusing on people who want to be engaged, vs. assuming interest based on passive activities, will no longer cut it. Take a hard look at your own sales and marketing efforts and ask yourself: “Is this how I would want to be sold to?”


Poll: Things You Hate About Sales & Marketing
What do you hate most about B2B sales & marketing?
What frustrates you most about B2B sales & marketing?

Cold calls/emails

No personalization

Sales call after a download

Something else


And just for fun… some of the more entertaining (and sometimes utterly inexplicable) pieces of feedback we heard from our survey on sales and marketing gripes:

“The overly optimistic salesman voice.”

“Cheesy sales speak.”

“Sales person cannot stop talking like a D.J.”


“Marketing-speak, techno babble.”

“The pause when someone calls and is trying to read my name on a spreadsheet.”


“Death by powerpoint.”

“Car sales-like behavior.”

“Life insurance.” (you read that right)


Curious about the rest of the what we found from our survey? Check out the full report


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