What constitutes a “workable” B2B sales strategy? Yes, that’s a great question and one you must have an answer to. Every business is unique, with its products, services, target market, and objectives. Depending on the company, what works for one might not work for another.
That said, there are certain elements that all effective B2B sales strategies share.
But let us first understand the nature of B2B selling, the character traits of modern buyers, and how the entire B2B sales process flows.
The Nature of B2B Sales
B2B selling is not the same as retail selling or business-to-consumer sales. When you sell to businesses, you’re not just selling a product or service – you’re selling a solution to a problem. You help your potential customers improve their business operations. They want to know how your offering can make their lives easier, their work more efficient, and their bottom line stronger.
Sales representatives in business-to-business industries typically have a different job than those in business-to-consumer industries.
In a B2B setting, sales reps often focus on building relationships with their clients rather than making a one-time sale. Because of this, B2B sales reps must be able to communicate with decision-makers within their target businesses effectively.
Ultimately, the goal of a B2B sales rep is to establish long-term relationships with their clients rather than to make a quick sale.
The Characteristics of Modern Buyers
In today’s marketplace, B2B buyers are more sophisticated and discerning than ever. They can make well-informed decisions about their purchases with instant access to information and a wide range of options.
They are highly informed.
Thanks to the internet, buyers can access a wealth of information about products and services before they even step into a store (physical or online). They often research reviews and compare prices before making a purchase.
They know what they want.
Again, due to the abundance of information available to buyers, they are very clear about what they are looking for before they even start shopping around. They are likely to have already narrowed their options and will be looking for a specific product that meets their needs.
They are price sensitive.
In today’s economy and the rise of competition, buyers always look for the best value for their money. They will likely compare shops and look for deals and discounts before purchasing.
They are brand conscious.
Buyers are often very loyal to the brands they know and trust. When making a purchase, they usually choose a brand they are familiar with over a less-known option.
Keeping this information in mind, let’s step forward to the sales process.
Understanding the B2B Sales Process
The basic steps of the B2B sales process are: prospecting, appointment setting, needs assessment, proposal/presentation, negotiation, and close.
In the business-to-business (B2B) sales process, prospecting is the process of identifying and qualifying potential customers. It is the first step in the sales cycle, and salespeople need to clearly understand how to identify and qualify potential customers before moving on to the next stage of the sales process.
Businesses can use several methods for prospecting, and the most effective approach will vary depending on the products or services sold and the target market. Some standard prospecting methods include online research, trade shows, networking events, and cold calling.
Once a potential customer has been identified, the next step is to qualify them as a prospect. It involves determining whether or not they need the products or services offered and whether they have the budget and authority to make a purchase.
After a potential customer has been identified and qualified as a prospect, the next step is to set an appointment. The purpose of this meeting is to get the prospect’s attention and establish rapport.
The best way to set appointments is by leveraging technology. Using a CRM or an appointment setting software, you can automate much of the tedious work that goes into making appointments—for example, sending reminders and follow-ups and scheduling meetings with prospects.
During the meeting, the salesperson should focus on building relationships and understanding the prospect’s needs. Keep in mind that the goal at this stage is not to make a sale but to establish trust and credibility with the prospect.
Needs assessment is a critical part of the b2b sales process. As you learn how potential clients feel about their pain points, you can tailor your sales pitch to their specific requirements and identify any possible objections your clients may have.
These are the steps you should follow.
- Research your potential client’s business to understand their industry and sector.
- Speak to your contact within the company to get an overview of their current situation.
- Create a list of questions that you will use to assess the specific needs of your potential client.
At this point, you’ll lay out your solution to the buyer’s problem and explain why your product or service is the best fit.
A proposal or presentation is a formal document that outlines an offer, product, or service. It can be either solicited or unsolicited. Typically, solicited proposals are sent in response to a request for proposal (RFP), while unsolicited proposals are sent without being requested. Proposals usually include an executive summary, an overview of the company or organization making the offer, a semi-detailed description of the proposed product or service, pricing information, and terms and conditions.
Presentations are usually in-person and include visuals such as slideshows or videos. They may also be delivered electronically, through email or social media.
Once the proposal or presentation has been made, it’s time to negotiate. In a negotiation, both parties try to reach an agreement on the terms of the sale. The goal is to come to a win-win agreement that is mutually beneficial for both parties.
Keep these things in mind when negotiating:
- Be direct about what you want and what you’re willing to give up.
- Listen to what the other party wants and try to find common ground.
- Do not be afraid to end the negotiation if you can’t reach an agreement.
Closing the Sale
The end goal is to close the sale. The buyer agrees to purchase the product or service, and a contract is signed.
To close a sale, you need to:
- Get commitment from the buyer.
- Ask for the order.
- Handle any objections that the buyer may have.
- Follow up with the buyer to ensure they’re satisfied with the product or service.
However, there is more to a successful sale than simply following these steps.
Salespeople must master the art of customer relationship management to close more deals and keep growing the business. B2B sales often involve repeat customers and long-term contracts, so it is crucial to establish trust and rapport with clients from the beginning.
And now, we will finally go to the strategies that work for B2B sales.
10 Proven B2B Sales Strategies that Work
1. Start with your buyer’s needs, not your product features.
When selling a product, it’s easy to get caught up in listing off all of its features. But your buyers are looking for solutions to their problems, not a list of striking features. So, focus on what the other company wants to achieve and how your product can help them get there.
It’s really all about your buyer. Fight the urge to talk about you and your product more than you talk about them and their business needs and objectives. Then, frame your pitch in a way that highlights how your product is the perfect fit.
2. Build personal relationships with your buyers.
People make deals with people they know, like, and trust. To build these types of customer relationships, you need to take the time to get to know them on a personal level.
Here are a few tips:
- Get to know them as people, not just buyers.
Take the time to learn about their interests, hobbies, and families. The more you know about them as individuals, the better you will be able to connect with them.
- Be genuine in your interactions.
Nobody wants to feel like they’re being sold to, so avoid hard-selling techniques and focus on building rapport and trust.
- Keep things professional.
You should build personal relationships on a foundation of professionalism and mutual respect. Remember that ultimately, you’re still doing business with each other.
- Communicate regularly.
Stay in touch with your B2B buyers even when there’s no immediate business reason. A simple phone call or email just to check in can go a long way towards maintaining a solid relationship.
3. Use content to educate and engage your buyers.
One of the best ways to engage your buyers is to provide them with high-quality educational content.
Educational content is the type of content that helps your target audience learn about your product or service. It can include blog posts, infographics, videos, whitepapers, e-books, and more.
When you provide valuable information that helps them solve a problem or understand a complex concept, they are more likely to see you as an expert in your field and be open to doing business with you.
Educational content can also help prospects move further down the sales funnel by providing them with the information they need to make a purchasing decision.
By providing valuable information that helps solve problems and answer questions, salespeople can position themselves as trusted advisors who are invested in their customers’ success. In addition to building trust, educational content can also drive leads by generating interest in a company’s products or services.
4. Be responsive to buyer inquiries.
Any good salesperson knows he might impede closing a deal if he’s not responsive to buyer inquiries. Buyers are often inundated with options and can easily move on to the next vendor if they don’t feel like their inquiries are being taken seriously.
When a buyer contacts you, they expect a prompt response. So, make sure you have systems in place to ensure that all inquiries are routed to the appropriate team member and answered quickly and efficiently.
Three tips for making your customer inquiry system efficient and effective:
- Build a robust database that can track all customer inquiries. This database should be easy to use and searchable so that customer service representatives can quickly find and resolve each issue.
- Secure a clear and concise set of instructions for each step so that representatives know exactly what they need to do to resolve the issue.
- Position a quality assurance team to review each case and ensure that the proper steps were taken to resolve the issue.
5. Follow up after meetings and events.
It’s important to follow up with buyers after every meeting or event, whether it’s a phone call, in-person meeting, or trade show.
You can use this opportunity to thank them for their time and reiterate your key points. You can also provide a brief overview of what was discussed during the meeting, highlighting any key points that you think are important for the prospect to remember. Then, outline any next steps agreed upon and reconfirm any commitments that both parties made.
By touching on these topics, you can be confident that both parties are on the same page and that progress is made towards closing the deal.
6. Leverage social media and online review sites
Why leverage social media and online review sites to find new leads and close more sales?
- Social media is a great way to find potential customers who are already interested in what you’re selling. You can connect with individuals and businesses likely to need your products or services by searching for relevant keywords and hashtags.
- Online review sites can be helpful in both finding leads and building trust with potential and current customers. By reading reviews of your competitors, you can get an idea of what potential customers are looking for. And by actively managing your own online reviews, you can build trust with prospects by showing them that you’re receptive to customer feedback.
7. Focus on the entire customer journey, not just the sale.
Focusing on the entire customer journey gives you a more holistic view of your customers. It allows you to understand better their needs and how they interact with your company. You can then use this understanding to create a more effective sales strategy that meets your buyers’ needs.
So, what does it mean to focus on the customer journey?
It means taking into account every touchpoint and interaction that a potential customer has with your brand, from their first awareness all the way through to post-purchase follow-up. By thinking about the customer journey, you can create a seamless and integrated experience that will make it more likely for existing customers to do business with you again in the future.
8. Align Sales and Marketing Teams
Sales and marketing teams have different but complementary goals.
Sales teams focus on generating revenue by closing deals with new customers, while marketing teams focus on generating leads and crafting the value proposition.
Both sales and marketing departments must be in sync. By aligning their efforts, they can create a coordinated approach that leads to more closed deals and satisfied customers. By understanding each other’s goals and working together, sales and marketing can create a powerful team that drives results for the business.
There are five steps that businesses can take to align their sales and marketing teams.
- Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each department
- Set mutually agreed upon goals and KPIs that everyone is working towards
- Establish regular communication channels and check-ins to ensure that everyone is on the same page
- Create processes and systems that everyone can use and follow
- Provide training and resources to ensure that everyone has the knowledge and skills they need to be successful
10. Stay up to date on industry trends and news.
Keeping tabs on what’s happening in your industry can position yourself as a thought leader. Thought leadership is an excellent way to win other businesses as they’re more likely to trust your recommendations. Plus, you’ll be better equipped to identify opportunities and challenges that your clients may be facing.
Of course, there are many ways to stay abreast of industry news and developments, including but not limited to:
- reading industry-specific publications
- following industry leaders and influencers
- attending trade shows, conferences, and other industry events
- consult with industry experts and analysts
You should commit to staying informed about your industry so you’ll be better equipped to serve your clients and grow your business.
There you have it! Following these simple tips, you can create a sales strategy to help you close more deals and grow your business.
Of course, every business is different, and you’ll need to tailor your sales strategy to fit your specific needs. But by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well on creating a successful sales strategy for your business.
Here are other frequently asked questions about B2B sales strategy that we have not discussed in the article.
B2B sales is a transaction between two businesses, rather than between a business and a consumer. B2B sales can involve products or services and often take place over a longer period than B2C transactions. Because companies seek to establish long-term relationships with other businesses, B2B sales often require more customized solutions than B2C sales.
There are many different types of B2B sales, but some common examples include enterprise software sales, medical equipment sales, and industrial machinery sales.
A B2B sales strategy builds relationships with potential clients and creates trust. It’s important to understand your client’s needs and provide them with solutions that meet those needs. You also need to articulate the value of your product or service and position it in a way that makes it irresistible to potential buyers.
1. Define your target market: When it comes to B2B selling, it’s important to have a laser-like focus on your target market. You need to understand who your ideal customer is and what their specific needs are. Once you clearly understand your target market, you can develop messaging and positioning that resonates with them.
2. Create compelling content: To attract and engage your target market, you need to create compelling content relevant to their needs.
3. Build relationships: When it comes to B2B sales, relationships are key. You need to take the time to get to know your potential clients and build trust with them.
4. Train your team: It’s important to have a sales team knowledgeable about your product or service and the needs of your target market. Provide them with the training and resources they need to be successful.