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A lot has changed in the world of sales. Without a solid, up-to-date B2B sales strategy, it’s difficult to compete. B2B sales strategies have their own nuances — unlike B2C sales, B2B sales is less straightforward.
Today’s B2B customers have much more information at their fingertips. The internet plays a large role in educating B2B customers. In fact, customers have such great access to information that it sometimes causes them to be confused and overwhelmed.
The challenge for B2B sellers is to simplify the sales process as much as possible. By taking on a customer-centric mindset and taking advantage of the benefits of a cloud-based phone system, B2B companies can create a streamlined, effective sales cycle.
How to Evaluate Your B2B Sales Strategy
Salespeople risk losing leads at any point in the sale cycle. Well-trained salespeople know how to use sales tools to get to know their B2B customers well and employ that information to shorten the sales cycle.
Because the B2B sales cycle is complex, many things can go wrong, and they often do. No one wants to lose a sale near the finish line because they had the wrong strategy.
Let’s take a look at the 8 steps that form the B2B sales cycle:
1. Generating leads – Finding people that are interested in your product, qualified leads.
2. Discovery – A research stage where you’re discovering a lead’s pain points and determining how your product will solve their problems.
3. Qualifying leads – The stage where you decide whether your product will meet their needs.
4. Making the pitch – The actual sales pitch where you tell a compelling story about why your product is the best on the market to fit their needs.
5. Objection handling – At this stage, customers will ask questions and offer up any barriers or objections they have.
6. Closing – At decision time, the salesperson has an opportunity to overcome the objections and turn the lead into a customer by asking them to commit to the sale.
7. Follow up – After the sale is closed, good salespeople contact their customers and ask if they have any additional questions, need help, and find out how they like the product.
8. Checking in – The final stage is a good time to build loyalty and goodwill and ask for referrals.
You’ll avoid customer regret when you hit all the right touch points of the sales cycle and appeal to all the parties to a B2B transaction.
According to a CEB study (a subsidiary of Gartner) about 40% of businesses second guess their B2B purchases. B2B customers often describe the sales process as frustrating and painful. That doesn’t bode well for the salesperson or the company they work for.
If it sounds like it’s time to evaluate your B2B sales strategy, a good place to start is to ask yourself the following questions:
Are you using automation to generate leads?
Do you have a streamlined process to qualify leads?
Are you making use of a sales call center to put your strategy in motion?
Is your B2B strategy mobile-friendly?
Do you know how long customers are spending in each part of the sales cycle?
Are you taking advantage of B2B sales and marketing alignment?
In the end, nearly all parties to the transaction would like to simplify the process and they don’t want to make any costly mistakes.
As a B2B salesperson, your role is to build trust in your brand and simplify the sales process as much as possible from the first stage in the cycle to the last.
Defining the Important Elements of a B2B Sales Strategy
B2B sales strategies are vastly different than those of the past. It’s hard to discount the fact that the B2B sales process is highly complex. When evaluating your B2B sales strategy, you have to consider the important elements of your sales strategy and develop a plan to build efficiency into every step.
A B2B sales cycle involves multiple parties in the decision-making process. To be successful in B2B sales, you have to consider the inputs your customer is getting from other people at the company at every stage in the cycle.
Consider the following 6 roles of people that could be involved in a B2B transaction:
1. The person who will be using your product.
2. The person who can put you in contact with other decision-makers at the company.
3. The final decision-maker.
4. People that could hold up the sale, such as IT or attorneys.
5. Strong opposers.
6. Advisors or consultants.
Forbes says that 44% of companies have formal buying committees.
Be aware that B2B sales cycles look differently than B2C sales cycles. They’re typically longer than B2C sales. That means that you can fully expect the process to take longer.
Another thing that distinguished B2B sales from B2C sales is that the pricing isn’t necessarily carved in stone. B2B companies typically build in a bit of room for negotiation. Regular customers often expect to get a bigger break on pricing, and B2B sellers are usually happy to work with them to find a reasonable price point.
On the B2B sales end, companies often give salespeople guidelines on how far they can go with pricing. On the customer end, it’s common for companies to give decision-makers broader guidelines like saving costs or avoiding risks.
Even once a B2B sale has been completed, salespeople still have to contend with the payment process. Large sales often involve many details around getting paid. The Harvard Business Review article states that one CMO called it “lowest common denominator purchasing.
Also, consider a few more important elements of a B2B sales strategy:
1. Map out the customer journey from start to finish.
2. Uncover any barriers or obstacles. Their impression may be colored by past experiences with other B2B sellers.
3. Set the right course of action for each customer and customize it.
4. Track the customer’s progress along the sales journey.
When you consider all the important elements of your B2B sales strategy, you also have to have the right people and systems in place to execute it. Since your salespeople spend much of their time on the phone, a cloud-based phone system is a good place to start.
Why Cloud-Based Phone Systems are Important for Sales Teams
A B2B sales strategy may consist of one salesperson that takes a customer from the first stage in the sales cycle, all the way through to the end. Other companies find that they can more easily shorten the sales cycle by setting up call teams where different individuals focus on a particular part of the customer journey such as lead generation, closing sales, or following up.
The main benefit of assigning call agents to different parts of the sales cycle is that call agents quickly become proficient at their assigned role. Often, they’re the ones that identify barriers in their leg of the customer journey and offer suggestions for how to overcome them.
According to the article in the Harvard Business Review, B2B customers wrestle heavily over buying decisions. On the whole, they’re stressed and uncertain. When customers are overwhelmed with too much information, the article also points to one of their own studies of over 600 B2B buyers that showed an 18% decrease in the easiness of a purchase. On the other hand, sellers that aimed to simplify the B2B sales process were 62% more likely to close a high-quality sale.
Successful salespeople have to be more responsive than ever. Customers expect fast responses, often in real-time. The customer takes the lead and the salesperson has to continually follow up to keep them moving through the sales funnel.
A cloud-based phone system offers many features that support call agents in every step of the sales process.
Automatic call tags alert salespeople to where leads are in the sales cycle so they can take the appropriate steps to keep sales on track.
An IVR (interactive voice response) system or call routing feature gets customers to the right call agent for the right stage of the sales cycle without having to be transferred.
With a cloud-based phone system, you can set up toll-free or international numbers instantly for the ease of doing business with customers outside your local area.
The call queue feature ensures that customers can get in touch with their sales representative at the earliest opportunity.
Features like power dialing and click-to-dial help salespeople place calls in quick succession for greater efficiency.
Insight cards pull data in from your CRM or other business software solutions for a single source of information right on the caller’s screen.
Salespeople have to display patience and flexibility to see their sales through to the end. A cloud-based phone system provides the features to streamline their process and help them get to the close faster. Remember, customers appreciate a B2B sales strategy that makes things simpler for them.
The Benefits of a Cloud-Based Phone Solution for B2B Sales
To get to the final cycle in the sale, B2B customers need their salespeople to be flexible. A cloud-based phone system is the answer to a fully customized sales process.
Many B2B sales companies are finding that a call center is the most efficient way to deliver a customized customer journey and shorten the sales cycle.
As long as you have a VoIP phone setup, you can quickly and easily set up a cloud-based phone system.
Your call agents only need access to the internet and your login information. Since cloud-based phone systems are subscription-based, there’s very little cost involved.
Your cloud-based phone system keeps your salespeople connected to all their tools including their CRM, sales software solutions, helpdesk software, chat software, and much more. All the information that salespeople need is right on their dashboard. Call teams can use their phone system to collaborate in real-time.
A cloud-based call center is a dream for sales managers. The live feed feature gives managers insight into what’s going on in the call center, even when they’ve set up remote or distributed teams. They can see call activity on their dashboard virtually.
If there’s a sudden increase or decrease in call flow, supervisors can easily scale the number of call agents up or down without losing time or costing additional money.
Salespeople, sales managers, and customers are always “on the go,” and cloud-based phone systems have the added benefit of being mobile-friendly. With a cloud-based phone system, you’ll never have to worry over missing an important call.
Reliability is almost never an issue with cloud-based phone systems. Many carriers boast of uptimes of around 99.9%. Overall, a cloud-based phone system is a win for B2B sales companies, salespeople, and customers.
How to Choose the Right Phone System to Improve Sales
Changing to a cloud-based phone system will require you to make some investment in your time and money. Of course, you’ll want to maximize your system’s features to create efficiency and increase sales.
Here’s what to look for in the right phone system to improve your sales call center:
It gives you a robust set of call features like the ones Aircall offers.
It works in tandem with your CRM and other software solutions seamlessly to create a single source for all your software applications.
It’s flexible enough to meet the needs of your call agents, sales teams, and managers.
It has a reliable uptime.
You can keep improving on it to take advantage of evolving technology.
It at least meets the minimum security standards for cloud-based applications.
It has an average uptime percentage of at least 99%.
It offers an app marketplace similar to Aircall’s App Marketplace.
The Aircall App Marketplace has listings for several sales automation software solutions like:
In summary, a cloud-based phone system for B2B sales helps you turn the focus of your sale to how your customers make buying decisions. By aligning your sales and marketing teams to support the customer journey through all stages of the B2B sales process, you can be prescriptive in your approach to developing your B2B sales strategy. A cloud-based phone system is a modern tool to ensure that your call center agents are consistent and can do their part to simplify the sales process as much as possible with the goal of creating the best possible B2B sales strategy.