It’s even tougher if you don’t understand what a comprehensive sales strategy should look like in your industry and business environment.
In B2B sales, it’s important to use various prospecting techniques, practice effective lead qualification, and effectively train your salespeople.
Throughout this blog, we’ll cover the following:
- What Is B2B Sales?
- What Does a B2B Sales Process Look Like?
- How to Be Successful in B2B Sales
- Top B2B Sales Skills Your Professionals Should Have
What Is B2B Sales?
B2B (business-to-business) sales refers to the process of selling products or services from one business to another. It involves transactions and negotiations between companies, rather than between a business and individual consumers, also known as B2C sales.
B2B vs. B2C Sales Strategy: What’s the Difference?
Many people believe that “sales is sales,” and that the way you succeed in one environment is the same in the other. While many skills are versatile enough to be useful anywhere, it’s important to critically differentiate between B2B and B2C sales environments.
These are just some of the ways that these strategies are distinguished:
- Financial value of the deal: The value of a deal is usually much higher in B2B environments. B2C customers may only pay $10 or $20 per purchase, with larger customers spending a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. B2B customers might be prepared to spend thousands of dollars every month, or even six or seven figures in the right circumstances. These are much larger, less frequent deals; therefore, they demand a different approach.
- Purchasing frequency: B2B purchasing frequency tends to be much lower as a result of the high cost of the deal. B2C customers may buy from you multiple times a week; however, in a B2B environment, you might only have a handful of customers, and each of them may only buy from you one time, or on a routine basis.
- Number of stakeholders involved: B2B and B2C sales environments are also differentiated by the number of stakeholders involved. B2C decisions are typically made by a single individual; a person decides by themselves whether they want to buy a candy bar, subscribe to a streaming service, or purchase a new pair of shoes. However, when it comes to purchasing a product or service for an entire organization, there are typically far more people involved. Over several sales meetings, you might meet with dozens of people within your prospective organization.
- Length of the sales cycle: As you might imagine, the sales cycle is longer in a B2B environment. The value of the deal and the number of stakeholders means it takes much longer for a business to come to a final decision. It may take months to build a relationship with a new prospect, and weeks beyond that to close a deal.
- Decision making process: Approaches to decision making are differentiated between B2B and B2C sales. Though the exact process will vary depending on the product or service offered, generally, B2C decision makers are more emotional and impulsive. On the other hand, B2B decision makers are more logical and data-driven.
- Number of leads in the pipeline: B2B salespeople typically manage a smaller number of much more valuable leads. Their B2C counterparts have much bigger lead pools, as they can process through them much quicker.
- Customer acquisition cost: As a byproduct of all these variables and more, customer acquisition cost (CAC) tends to be much higher in B2B sales environments. It takes more effort to generate leads and more time to qualify and nurture them. However, the lower number of deals is compensated by their higher values.
What Does a B2B Sales Process Look Like?
While your specific sales process may vary slightly, most businesses follow an effective sales development model follows a six-step process. Here is what a typical B2B sales process look like:
- Step 1. Prospecting
- Step 2. Lead Qualification
- Step 3. Lead Nurturing
- Step 4. Appointment Setting
- Step 5. Sales Presentation
- Step 6. Closing the Deal
Step 1. Prospecting
Prospecting is all about finding people who might be interested in your products and services. It’s a way of making your brand more visible, helping potential customers acknowledge their biggest problems, and developing a pool of possible leads.
B2B sales prospecting includes a variety of different lead generation techniques, including both inbound and outbound. Inbound prospecting strategies include content and social media marketing, while outbound prospecting utilizes cold calling and emailing.
Step 2. Lead Qualification
In the next phase of the process, lead qualification, the distinction between sales and marketing is even more important to acknowledge. Your salespeople are going to have to use different skills based on how the prospects were generated, and the exact strategy needed to capture them.
For example, if a prospect has already been warmed up with a phone conversation, it will be easier to move them to the next stage of consideration. If a prospect only knows about your brand because they read a piece of content you generated, you’ll need a different approach.
That’s why lead qualification quantitatively scores leads to filters out ones with low relevance or chances of purchasing your products and services, so you can focus on the most important ones.
Step 3. Lead Nurturing
Next, you’ll engage in lead nurturing. In this phase, you’ll frequently touch base with your prospects and leads, sending them emails, making phone calls, and having conversations. You might get to meet several people within your target company, and you’ll gradually build trust and familiarity with your prospect. Throughout this time, your prospect will become more familiar with your products and services, and hopefully, they’ll come to trust you as an advisor and expert in the field.
Step 4. Qualified Sales Meetings
At a certain point, you’ll be ready to set a qualified sales meeting with a ready-to-buy lead. You may have already had some phone conversations with your lead, but this next meeting is the big one, with all the decision makers in one place.
Step 5. Sales Presentation
Once you have an appointment in place, you’ll be ready to make your sales presentation. The decision makers may already be somewhat familiar with your solution, but this is your chance to truly sell it. This may include giving a demonstration of your product, offering a vision for a custom build, or just discussing the finer points of your services.
Step 6. Closing the Deal
At the end of the sales presentation, or possibly after several, you’ll be ready to close the deal. You can present your lead with a proposal and attempt to persuade them to sign.
How to Succeed in B2B Sales
Learning how to do B2B sales effectively takes training, education, and experience. Over time, you’ll get to know a variety of different strategic approaches and you’ll be able to adapt in real time, depending on how your prospects and customers respond to you. You’ll also be able to make adjustments to your prospecting, qualifying, and nurturing techniques.
There are a few B2B selling strategies to consider implementing into your everyday sales functions, ensuring you gain the most impact from your business growth efforts. Here are the main selling strategies that many successful companies follow:
- Value-based selling
- Consultative selling
- SPIN selling
- Solution selling
- Challenger selling
If you want more insight into the different types of B2B selling strategies, read this blog.
Now let’s jump into the good stuff. If you want to be successful in sales, these are some of the most important fundamentals for doing B2B sales effectively:
Know Your Target Audience
If you want to persuade your audience, you need to understand how they think and see the world. A generic sales presentation is rarely compelling or relevant. Instead, you need to relentlessly research your target market, get inside the heads of your prospective customers, and reshape all of your sales materials and approaches accordingly. The better you understand them, the better you’ll be able to pitch to them.
Understand Their Pain Points
Customer pain points are what drive someone to a specific solution. Remember solution-based selling that we mentioned earlier? This part of having a successful B2B sales process aligns with that approach to selling, because you’re looking for pain points and exploring ways to relieve those issues for customers.
For example, if you sell time-tracking software, customer pain points might include difficulty tracking productivity or lack of hourly billing transparency for end customers. The better you understand these pain points, and the better you can speak to them, the more likely you’ll be able to close a lead.
Fully Embrace Your Products and Services
Persuasive salespeople are often obsessed with the products and services they’re selling. They know them inside and out, can answer any question about them, and genuinely believe them to be effective solutions. You need to spend time educating and training your salespeople so they understand everything there is to know about your products and services, and motivate them to be truly passionate about them.
Be Versatile and Adaptable
B2B sales isn’t a single strategy, but a composite of many different ones. The best B2B sales companies in the world are ones that employ diverse approaches for prospecting, lead nurturing, and even presenting and proposing. Additionally, it’s important to be willing to adapt. You may find that some of your techniques aren’t effective, or that there are new tools or approaches that could improve your results.
Focus on Building Relationships and Trust
In a B2C environment, customers make decisions freely and without much intellectual investment. But to be successful in a B2B environment, you need to be skilled at building relationships. Nobody is going to spend $1,000,000 with an individual or a business that they don’t truly and fully trust.
Have a Consistent Process in Place
Document and follow a consistent approach to sales and marketing. This way, all your sales professionals will be able to refer to the same centralized resource and align their strategies with the vision of the brand. Additionally, if you’re following a consistent process, you can more readily identify areas of weakness or poor performance and change accordingly.
Top B2B Sales Skills Your Professionals Should Have
These are some of the most important B2B sales skills your professionals should have:
Expertise of Your Products and Services
One of the most important skills for your salespeople to have is knowledge of and experience with your core products and services.
Your B2B customers need to see your salespeople as experts. If your salespeople stumble, or if they don’t seem to know what they’re talking about, the possibility for a deal will be dead in the water.
Additionally, when your salespeople fully understand the products and services they sell, they’ll be able to make more comprehensive and persuasive pitches, as well as confidently answer any question asked by prospects and leads. If you don’t train your salespeople on anything else, make sure they understand your products and services inside and out.
Ability to Actively Listen to a Prospect’s Needs
Active listening is a crucial skill for this type of sales environment. It sets the stage for a healthy and balanced relationship, giving salespeople the opportunity to establish mutual trust. It’s also a great way to learn about your customers. The more time you spend listening to the people you’re selling to, the better you’ll understand their pain points, and the better you’ll be able to sell them your solution.
Know How to Overcome Sales Objections
No matter how awesome your products and services are, you’re eventually going to encounter prospects and leads who raise objections. It’s important for all your salespeople to understand the most common ones, and learn the best techniques for overcoming them. For example, if prospects typically complain that this product is too expensive, you can use a case study to objectively prove the typical return on investment (ROI) of the product.
Exceptional Time Management Capabilities
It’s hard to overstate just how important time management is in a B2B sales environment. In the course of a given day, your salespeople might be responsible for attending meetings, talking to prospects, making sales presentations, coordinating with marketers, and learning about changes to your products and services. Some individuals might be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with literally hundreds of other people. The only way to accomplish any of this is with efficiency.
Strong Network and Relationship Building Skills
Better relationship building leads to easier B2B sales. Accordingly, it’s important for all your salespeople to have strong networking and skills. You need to be able to connect with people on an individual level and consistently earn their trust.
As you know, B2B sales complex and building a strategy that yields positive results requires a lot of trial and error. However, by following the B2B sales process and the best practices for generating a consistent stream of B2B sales, you have the opportunity to fill your sales pipelines with leads who are more likely to convert into customers in the future.
Having a successful B2B sales strategy requires a significant amount of time and money to generate a positive ROI. When small to medium-sized businesses don’t have the bandwidth to take it on internally, they often look for help from third-party lead generation providers—and that’s where Sapper Consulting comes in.
Sapper Consulting is a leading outsourced sales development that empowers sales teams spend more time selling and less time finding their next big deal. When you’re ready to accelerate your approach to business growth, contact the experts at Sapper for a free consultation!