Monitoring your B2B sales cycle is the key to developing high-performing sales teams. Tracking and analyzing your sales cycle should be a priority because it produces a host of benefits. As with any other type of sale, the faster you can close a sale, the less chance you have of losing it.
By getting well-acquainted with each step in the sales cycle, you can calculate how many hours you need to devote to each stage to reach your sales goals. Data is also useful in your sales strategy for helping you calculate how many salespeople you need to hire to meet your numbers. Also, it will help you determine if your team needs improvement in certain stages of the sales cycle. The timeframe from prospect to paying customer will also help you benchmark your sales process against your competition. A good sales training program incorporates best practices for B2B sales and prepares your salespeople to confidently make presentations that sell. A cloud-based phone solution is a key part of the success of your B2B sales cycle.
Defining Your B2B Sales Cycle
B2B selling is a circular process that encompasses all the activities that begin with contacting a qualified business prospect to getting the final signature and payment on a closed sale. The actual steps in a sales cycle depend somewhat on the type of service or product that the company is selling.
The first step in any sales cycle is prospecting for leads. Salespeople that identify prospects need to have a comprehensive understanding of your product or service and your target market. Their position requires knowing what differentiates your company from the competition and how it solves a problem for your customers. Lead generators rely on various tools and processes to help them identify qualified leads to pass on to salespeople. Lead generation is an active process and a cloud-based phone system is one of the most efficient tools for the job.
Good digital marketing campaigns, including social media campaigns, will drive a fair share of leads to your company. Many companies also present at trade shows and use other forms of lead generation to qualify potential buyers.
The next step in the sales cycle is outreach, which can take the form of a phone call, email, chat, or even a sales letter. The goal of this stage is to engage the prospect, answer some preliminary questions, and schedule time to have a more detailed conversation about your product.
At the time of the appointment, it’s important to educate the prospect and assess their interest in your product. At this time, it’s also essential to find out if they’re the decision-maker and if they’re not, find out who it is. This is the time to focus on how your product fills their needs and why it’s superior to the competition.
Your customers are bound to have a few objections. When you’re well-acquainted with your sales cycle, many of the customers’ questions and objections will come to the surface. Your salespeople need to be armed with the answers to common objections. They also need to know where to turn when they don’t have a ready answer and be prompt in following up with answers.
A well-trained salesperson is a good listener and is tuned in to the prospect’s buying style. Some prospects enjoy a little conversation and a softer, slower close while others respond better to a direct ask for the sale.
The B2B sales cycle is complete when the prospect either completes the sales or decides not to proceed any further. Some products may take weeks or months to complete the sales cycle. Salespeople that know their sales cycle well will know if they’re spending too much time in any particular stage.
While it seems reasonable to place lead generation at the beginning of the sales cycle, it also has an important place at the end of the sales cycle. New customers are most excited about partnering with your company at the time of the sale and they’ll want to spread the great news. The final step in the B2B sales cycle is to ask for referrals from colleagues and friends.
Best Practices for Improving Your B2B Sales Cycle
Regardless of what product you have to sell in the B2B sales arena, it’s essential to consider the current sales climate. Customers have more information at their beck and call than ever before.
Customer experience is a big factor and today’s buyers have high expectations. Providing an excellent customer experience needs to be a high priority, even over product and price. Gartner says that the “customer experience is the new battleground” for salespeople.
Their survey shows that 89% of companies believe that they’re competing on the basis of customer experience. By understanding the type of customer experience your customers expect, you can take the proper steps to fulfill their expectations and set the stage for forming a lasting partnership. Salesforce reports that 64% of customers expect to interact in real-time and this is especially true in the B2B sales cycle.
Sales patterns can quickly change, so it’s important to track, analyze, and compare your sales cycle and compare it across your industry to maintain the appropriate sales and marketing alignment. A short sales cycle places you ahead of your competition while a long sales cycle sets you at the back of the pack.
B2B Sales & Knowing Your Customer
Your target customers are your best resource for guiding you toward the best places to direct your marketing dollars and set the tone for your sales pitch. Knowing your target customer means understanding the needs of the end users and the concerns of the decision-makers.
Early adopters and test customers are valuable sources for creating a network of trusted advisors. They’re the best source for giving you feedback on the potential for your service or product and what separates it from the competition. One strategy is to offer a discount or free trial in exchange for getting information for case studies and testimonials. There is much value in being able to share real-life applications that highlight great customer experience.
Why a Cloud-Based Phone System Will Help Your Sales Cycle
It goes without saying that a CRM system is necessary to compete in B2B sales today. By using it along with a cloud-based phone system by Aircall, you can enhance your customer experience even more because it allows you to route calls to someone that can help them without waiting. Aircall creates a seamless customer experience for companies that use a distributed team, remote team, or call center design.
Getting to the right person faster allows you to tighten up your sales cycle, which enhances efficiency. Additionally, with Aircall’s API integration capability, you can customize your technology needs by integrating all the digital tools you need to help create the best possible customer experience. Aircall’s cloud-based phone system gives your customers good reasons to give you top ratings for customer experience.