What does it take to be successful in B2B sales? What activities distinguish B2B sales from B2C and how do you create a great sales strategy that works over time? Here’s our awesome guide to B2B sales, where you’ll gets insight into all the relevant parts of the sales process.
What does B2B sales mean?
When a company sells to another company, business to business, it’s called B2B sales. The term covers sales that are for services and products that doesn’t try to sell directly to consumers.
What’s the difference between B2B and B2C?
There is a tendency in marketing and sales to look at B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) sales as equal with only small differences between them. The traditional way of looking at things says that B2B companies make their decision on a rational basis, but consumers make it on an emotional basis.
These days we know that’s not the simple truth it used to be. Sales in the B2B sector is still influenced by emotional behavior. That’s why it’s important with personal communication as part of the customer journey – it doesn’t matter if you’re focused on B2B sales or B2C sales. You’re not selling your product or service to a company, you’re selling to a person, even if it’s B2B or B2C. The personal relationship between your company and your customers is, in other words, important in all forms of sales.
What makes B2B sales special?
Despite the similarities between B2B and B2C there are some things that makes B2B sales special. Let’s take a deeper look:
- Greater complexity
B2B sales are usually characterized by requiring more research and gathering of information beforehand. How can the product or service make life easier for the company? Does the solution fulfill the requirements the company has? The increased complexity demands a more careful and thoughtful approach.
- Multiple stakeholders
When there’s a bigger purchase to be made, there’s usually multiple stakeholders involved in the decision. For example, there’s usually a budget you must adhere to from a stakeholder in the economics department. The IT department might have specific demands when it comes to integrating tech into their tech stack or demands on what can be installed on the company computers, the list goes on and on. With increased complexity there’s an increase of demands from stakeholders within the organization.
- Longer contracts
It’s important for companies to look at things from a long-term perspective. An investment should pay for itself over time, but it’s also important to find a supplier that can work with them as a partner for future purchases. This is one of the reasons why it’s important for B2B salespeople to build a relationship with the company over time.
B2B buyers knows what they’re looking for
According to a survey performed by Gartner, buyers in B2B companies do as much as 87 % of the customer journey themselves before they even talk to a B2B salesperson. When the B2B salesperson is in the picture, the customer already has a decent idea of the company, the product and the offer.
A lot of a customers research is done online. That’s why marketing and content marketing is an effective strategy to give your prospective customers the right kind of information during their research phase. With articles, videos and social media, it’s easy for you to showcase what you can help them with, no matter where they are in the customer journey.
A needs analysis will show you the customers needs. It’s a model that quickly gives you a clear image of potential customers challenges and demands. By analyzing a current and future state and what it’ll take to get there, you’ll be able to give the prospective customers a competitive and attractive offer.
Trust is the best currency in B2B
A B2B salespersons task is to find, influence and prospect leads, both new and old. As a B2B salesperson you’re the mediator between the product or service your company sells and the potential buyer.
But there’s one thing that sells better than anything else, namely trust. Building up your trustworthiness and expertise takes time, but it will pay off in the long run when it comes to B2B sales.
Relationships is key in B2B sales. Since the order value of sales in B2B is usually higher than B2C, it’s critical that you have established your trustworthiness when talking to customers. The customer wants solutions to their problems and challenges, but they also want to feel comfortable with knowing that all their expectations over time will be meet. They might expect fast delivery, access to quick customer service or a personal meeting with their sales representative. In short, the customer wants to get as much out of the investment as possible. That’s why it’s important for you to establish yourself as reliable to influence their choice of supplier.
4 sales strategies for B2B salespeople
You might have the natural ability to be a social butterfly or an empathic listener, but there’s always ways for you to improve on your skills to become a better salesperson . Here’s some of the common characteristics for successful B2B salespeople:
- They work in a structured way with KPI:s to reach their sales goals. By using a CRM-system you’ll be able to set individual KPI:s and follow up on your targets, day by day.
- They genuinely care about their customers and their wishes. Use a CRM-system such as Lime CRM as an information database, where you’ll be able to document what was said during a call and put in your notes and reminders. That way it’ll be easier keep up on what was said between yourself and your customers.
- They keep their promises. To create trust can be a challenge, but a good rule of thumb is to never promise more to the customer than you can deliver.
- They find ways to keep up their motivation! There will always be days when the cold calling feels like torture, or your administrative tasks are overflowing your inbox. A successful B2B salesperson has strategies to keep themselves motivated when the going gets tough. Find the source of energy that cheers you up, that motivates you to shine. Remember, having a great team can be an amazing source of energy, try to cheer each other up!
Prospecting and new customer in B2B sales
The goal of prospecting in B2B sales is to find your ideal customers, the ones that fits your companies offer the best. You can easily do prospecting by using up-to-date lists with company information or other registries with contact information.
In Sweden alone there’s more than 48 000 companies with at least 10 employees, that’s why it’s important to segment your audience to succeed with your prospecting. With a tool for prospecting, it’s easy for you to segment your list using datapoints to find new customers and prospects.
Lime CRM gives you access to an always up-to-date company registry that you can use to create cold calling lists or other lists that fits your needs. When you start automating your prospecting by using the right kind of tools, you’ll start saving time that can be put towards helping customers in need instead.
Polish your B2B sales process like a diamond
A salespersons job requires both patience and endurance. You need to have continual contacts to keep all parts of your deals hot and your sales pipeline filled. That’s why your sales process is an important part of your sales strategy to become successful in B2B sales.
Your sales process should contain all activities you have with a customer, from first contact to closed deal. As a salesperson, you should have a crystal-clear image in your mind on the next step in your process, so you can help the customer towards a good solution and push the deal along the way.
Look at your sales pipeline or what activities you do in a deal when building up your sales process. Remember to include every interaction that pushes the deal forward with a potential customer. It all starts with prospecting, which hopefully leads to a sales meeting and finally an offer.
Choose the right sales technique for your B2B sales
What does it take to push the sales process forwards with a customer? To reach greater success as a sales team it pays off to develop sales techniques that you can use in your sales process. A good sales technique creates a routine in your workflow, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.
Do administration more effective
Did you know most salespeople will spend half of their time on administrative tasks? It’s true, but it doesn’t have to be that way! By using a CRM tool such as Lime CRM, you’ll be able to have dynamic checklists and reminders on what to do next. Who said it had to be hard to create an efficient workflow?
The benefits of collecting all your tasks in one system instead of having it in different systems is that you get better overview of what needs to be done next.
Speak on the customers terms
You need to be able to listen to your customers to find the right solution for their problems. By sensing how the customer likes to communicate, you’ll be able to use that to your advantage to get your message across. Is your customer a straight shooter or more of the analytical kind? Listen to the customer and adjust your message accordingly and you’ll meet the customer at the right point in the conversation.
Let the customers objections be a clue to the next step
Do you have trouble with understanding how a “No thank you” can be turned into a positive? Then you’re not alone! But the fact is this, a customers objection allows you to expand on your talking points.
When you face criticism or objections with a solution-oriented way of thinking, you strengthen your credibility to the customer. You’re the expert that will help the customer find a solution to their problems. Every objection is an important indication of where the pain point might be for the customer, use this knowledge to your advantage!
5 tips for the ultimate B2B sales call
Most sales processes in B2B are long and time consuming, it can sometimes take months to close a deal. That’s why it’s important to continuously improve your sales pitch for your calls.
- Be clear with the purpose of the call and its goals
If you’re calling to sell a service or present an offer, make the call pleasant and short. Listen to the customers reaction when presenting your solution, so you can fit the sales pitch to their needs.
- Prepare a manuscript with questions
A sales call should never be started by reading a manuscript from top to bottom. But it’s important to have a manuscript prepared with some notes, so you don’t miss any of the important parts of the offer. By having a manuscript available, you’ll be able to prepare for objections or have follow-up questions of your own during the call.
- Keep the sales pitch short
Are you able to sell your offer in 7 words or less? There are few people able to do it. By keeping your sales pitch short and focused, you make it easier for the customer to understand what you’re offering. Write down your sales pitch, practice it on a colleague and try different approaches. Test different versions on your prospects to see which one works the best.
- Sell your offer by using storytelling
Everyone remembers a good story. If you’re able to incorporate your offer into a story that captures the customers interest, you’ll have a great chance of the customer remembering you the next time you call them.
- Research your cold call customers
When you’re making a cold call to a prospect who doesn’t know you or your company, be sure to do some research before calling. Basic company information such as where they’re located, the company age, their turnover and number of employees is just some of the things you’ll find in the database in Lime CRM.
The recipe to succeed with your B2B sales
To work as a B2B salesperson means you’ll be faced with exiting challenges and strategic decisions daily. To be able to reach your sales targets you’ll need a plan and a sales process able to support you along the way, from prospecting to closing the deal.
Thanks to pipeline management you’ll be able to fill every day with new business opportunities. With clearly defined goals and KPI:s you’ll have the right tools to increase your sales over time. It requires a system able to keep all the threads, information, contacts and other things gathered in one place, so you’ll have an easy way to keep track of everything.
Lime CRM helps you administrate your customers and keep your sales going forward. Maximize your sales with a CRM-system, so you can focus on taking care of your new customers.
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