If your B2B sales have hit a slump, it’s time to evaluate your B2B sales strategy and give it a makeover. The unique characteristics of B2B sales call for different sales strategies than B2C sales strategies. Also, B2B sales strategies are different than those of the past. B2B sales are typically larger than B2C sales and the sales cycle is longer. The pricing is more fluid with more room for negotiation, and the payment process is more complex. These issues mean that multiple stakeholders in multiple departments may have a say in following through with a purchase. These are all the things companies need to keep in mind as they develop their B2B sales strategy.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review reports that the typical B2B sale involved 5.4 people in 2015 and it increased to 6.8 people in 2017. According to The Growing Buyer-Seller Gap: Results of the 2018 Buyer Preferences Study by CSO, just over 44% of buyers said that they identified their needs and waited until they found solutions to meet their needs before they reached out to a salesperson. Also, almost 75% of B2B sales can take at least four months to close and just over 46% take seven months or more to close a sale.
Defining Your B2B Sales Strategy
Generally, B2B sales have been defined by direct marketing and outbound marketing. Today, modern B2B sales strategies have expanded to include inbound marketing in addition to outbound and direct marketing. With direct and outbound strategies, salespeople send messages directly to clients or prospects with the goal of being persuasive enough to engage them. These strategies are still relevant, but salespeople are wise to consider the potential customers that are being proactive on Google searches.
It’s important to define your B2B sales strategy because B2B sales are typically longer and more complex than B2C sales. B2B sales may include organizations that provide professional services to companies, businesses that provide digital and software services to companies, and companies that manufacture and sell raw materials to manufacturing companies.
What makes B2B sales complex is that there are multiple parties involved in the sales process as opposed to just a seller and a buyer. A B2B salesperson has to consider the end user of the product or service to convince the company that they need it. The salesperson may also find that the person they’re dealing with initially is merely the front person that connects the rest of the network to the salesperson. If that’s not enough, there may be someone in the network that opposes the purchase and may try to stop or stall it. Along the same lines, representatives from the legal or IT departments may have their say, complicating things further. Company leaders rely on the opinions of third-party advisors or consultants, especially for very large sales. If the sale is still viable at this stage, it still has to get the approval of the final decision-maker. Salespeople have to consider the impact of each party to the sale when making their pitch.
Six Steps to Guide Your B2B Sales Strategy
While a B2B sales strategy is vastly more complex than a B2C sales strategy, many of the sales processes are quite similar. The following six steps are your guide to an effective B2B sales strategy.
- 1. Preparation and research-know your market, your competitors, and your target market. Be clear on your value proposition and how your product fits into the marketplace.
- 2. Assess and qualify your prospects-make sure your product fills their interests and needs, and they have the proper budget. Learn who the initial contacts and decision-makers are.
- 3. Outreach, Presentation, and Sales Pitch-use inbound marketing such as content creation and social media, direct marketing using a CRM system, and outbound marketing using an email marketing strategy. Set appointments to learn more about their needs, develop customized sales pitches for every lead, and be prepared to offer them customized solutions.
- 4. Negotiation/Handling Objections-anticipate any objections they may have and either answer them or get back to them with answers in short order. Have standard prices ready to show and be sure about how much room you have to negotiate.
- 5. Closing-by this time, you should be relatively certain they’re ready to buy. Be ready to handle any last-minute concerns or objections and have everything in order to close the sale.
- 6. Follow-up-send the customer any final paperwork. Answer all questions and be sure they have access to product demos, training, and all they need to get started right away.
B2B Sales & Scaling Growth
The keys to scaling growth with B2B sales strategies are having the right team structures in place and understanding your metrics and refining your B2B sales strategies. It takes having access to real-time data to maximize qualified lead generation and enhance sales activity. The following three steps will help you to scale B2B sales growth.
- Build efficiency into the sales process–harmonize your sales efforts by integrating as many meaningful applications into one system as possible. The fewer applications your salespeople have to learn, the more efficient they’ll be.
- Analyze your sales funnel-learn how many calls it takes to schedule a demo appointment or sales call and be sure you’re staffed to meet your goals. Track the number of sales appointments that turn into sales and be sure you have enough sales staff to meet your goals and ensure that you’re not leaving money on the table.
- Improve customer retention-your goals pay off when you’re able to retain customers for long periods. Invest time in following up to see if their needs have changed and if they need additional products, solutions, or services. Do they have more remote teams because of the pandemic? Just because the sale is closed, doesn’t mean your relationship should dwindle.
Best Practices to Improve Your B2B Sales Strategy
Be aware that your customers are better educated about their needs than ever before. They’re more interested in you as a consultant than a salesperson. With that in mind use your CRM software diligently to track your prospects and work on relationship building. Understand their needs and ask how Aircall can meet them with a cloud-based phone system and open API integrations.
Don’t shy away from asking tough questions that get to the nitty-gritty of a prospect’s business challenges. Dig deep in finding out the challenges that are preventing them from reaching their goals and what more they’d be doing if they had more time or resources.
When building relationships and working to retain them, put forth the effort to make them strong so customers won’t think of anyone else but you and your company when they need products, services, or advice. Stay in touch enough to know they’re happy. When they’re not, either make it right or fix it.