B2B sales process is not all rainbows and butterflies. While it lasts, it lasts, but when sales do not go as expected, finding possible bottlenecks is not always the easiest nut to crack. How to overcome it, and master the B2B sales process?
Today, we are going to show you a few amazing pieces of advice for optimizing your B2B sales process. We also asked a few B2B experts about their experience in the field and their golden tips they could give to anyone who wants to boost their sales cycle.
How has the B2B sales process changed?
As you might already know, a B2B sales process is a series of specific events (or stages) required to sell a product or a service. Most likely, you have your own B2B sales process in place – now it’s time to make the most of it. A well-structured process will not only help you generate more leads but also make it easier for you to recognise how to better optimise and refine your sales activities in the long run.
Instead of going into details of what B2B sales are, though, let’s have a look at how it has changed over the last few years alone. It is no longer about emailing or calling only – you need to be proactive instead of being reactive or… inactive. In the past, just following up on some emails was more than enough, and just one touchpoint with a potential client was sufficient to seal the deal. Nowadays, you need to be selling your services without actually selling it.
Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment.
In 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect.
Today, it takes 8 attempts (117% more effort); yet, the average salesperson only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect.
(Sirius Decisions, TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group)
Lead nurturing can take ages, and social selling is the thing that sales managers may not like, but need to implement. As a salesperson, you should use social media to research prospects, connect with potential clients, join sector-related groups and publish valuable content – often with a little help from your marketing department. That’s precisely why the cooperation of sales & marketing is often desired.
Why is the B2B sales process hard?
When it comes to the sales process, the stakes are high. Basically, your business can’t afford ineffective lead generation & sales techniques. The B2B sales process has never been easy – but today, with so many ways and tools to analyze, optimize and improve your performance, you have no excuses not to do it on a regular basis.
Today’s sales process takes 22% longer than 5 years ago.
How to optimize your B2B sales process?
Long story short: you need to go the extra mile quite a few times. As already mentioned, a well-thought-out sales process can help you engage with more leads and close more deals. It might not be that easy to develop it at first, but once you get it right: It’s a process that can be repeated over and over again. For that reason, it’s important to keep optimising your B2B sales process. Follow the steps below to make sure you’re making the most of your B2B sales process.
1. Define your ideal customer profile or buyer persona
In order to refine your B2B sales process, it’s important to start with understanding your customers. To make it easier, specify your buyer persona first. It should serve as a representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and existing data about your customers.
Take a closer look at relevant statistics, as well as your most recent customers to identify common behaviour patterns, demographics, and motivations. The more detailed image you have of your buyer persona, the better. This will allow you to target your potential customers and meet their expectations more effectively.
2. Invest in your team
You can have the most enthusiastic sales people on board, but without proper training, procedures and motivation – they may not show their full potential. In the sector of B2B services, it is extremely important to keep your team morale really high. Otherwise, your business could be on the ropes.
How to keep your team highly motivated?
- Provide your sales agents with training & support. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that top performing organisations invest in the development of their employees. From technical training on products and services to sales techniques – offering such support helps to keep your sales team productive and motivated.
- Think about benefits and perks for their performance. It can be just extra commission fees for each lead they deliver or each deal they close, but you can as well provide some vouchers or extra paid days off.
- Let them have their say. Encourage your team to share ideas for improvement, conduct brainstorming sessions or welcome any insights and comments they may have on the business overall. They will feel important, appreciated and more connected to your brand.
- Give them the right tools. Being in charge of many tasks can be frustrating, but it can be a total disaster and drama if all those tasks are done manually. While you can automate a few tasks, your team can focus on 3Ps: priorities, personalisation and performance.
3. Create content to support your outbound process & help drive inbound traffic
While marketing and sales may not always love each other, they need to learn how to collaborate. Without cooperation, it may be hard for both teams to achieve their goals and meet expectations.
What’s the best approach to support sales via marketing? Answering customer questions! It’s all about creating relevant content to support outbound marketing and attract inbound prospects.
So, how is that supposed to work? Based on insights from the sales team, the marketing team can come up with a content marketing strategy to answer the customers’ needs. This approach will help you establish a long-lasting relationship with your clients. If you help them solve their problems, they’re more likely to treat you as a partner and recommend your services to others.
4. Clearly define your sales process(es)
Having a great sales process can win you a lot of clients if you take steps carefully and reasonably. It is not too difficult to completely ruin the whole operation. Avoid getting spammy and pushy with sales communication – it is about showing value in collaborating with your company and building a relationship that will last.
Wondering how to do it the right way? There are quite a few common mistakes in sales processes:
- Contacting potential leads too quickly. If you contact your prospects before they are sure about the quality of services you deliver and the necessity for them to own these services, you may lose them forever. Your approach will be seen as off-putting and offensive, so this won’t make a great impression in their eyes.
- Being excessively brazen. You need to show your potential clients that yes, you want them to be your clients, but not by any means and not right here and right now. Be sure that your services fit their needs and if they don’t, tell them about it honestly. They will definitely appreciate your attitude and spread a word or two about you. It is natural that you want to sell your services, but without understanding buyer personas and their motivation, problems, struggles and requirements, your efforts may be in vain.
- Taking care of new clients while the current ones are ignored. This is a faux pas on the line between customer service and lead nurturing. While many new clients are regularly contacted or are sent some follow-ups, current clients may struggle with some features at the same time. Instead of solving their issues, finding solutions and simply helping them, salespeople are busy with new leads to convert them into deals. They hear current clients, but they listen to the new ones.
Optimizing the sales process cannot be done without the prior setting of goals and milestones that the entire sales team can stand behind. New technologies, tools and even AI can help shape the sales process and measure the effects of each action and evaluate their productiveness when it comes to meeting goals.
5. Choose the right tools to support the above
Being in charge of many tasks can be frustrating, but it can be a total disaster and drama if all those tasks are done manually. While you can automate a few tasks, your team can focus on 3Ps: priorities, personalisation and performance.
What tools can be helpful for your team?
We will list only a few of the most important ones, as you will find a great, extensive list in our next article.
- Livespace – your sales team needs a reliable CRM platform, and Livespace is definitely one of them. Livespace provides elasticity and usability of the tool, many useful integrations and advanced customisation. Oh, and it was ranked as #1 CRM for SMB according to Sellwise.
- CloudTalk – a complex solution for sales teams taking inbound calls and making outbound calls. With CloudTalk, you can record your calls, analyse in real-time, integrate your data with external systems, set up an automated callback or improve your customer service or sales efforts.
- Harmonizely – salespeople do schedule meetings, and need a solid solution to handle all meetings – online and offline – in one place. With Harmonizely, they can not only do it, but also integrate their whole schedule with external apps and calendars.
Given that B2B products are usually highly specialised, the sales outreach needs to be well-targeted, too. Here’s how to improve your B2B sales outreach strategy:
- Make it content-driven. This comes from the marketing-sales cooperation we’ve mentioned above. When your potential clients are searching for answers to their questions, they’re likely to stumble upon your blog articles. It’s an opportunity for you to collect their emails, but even if you don’t, it’s already a profit – they will already know the name of your brand by the time you reach out.
- Strike while the iron is hot. If your prospect has already expressed interest in your case studies, whitepapers or demos, the lead is quite hot already! This means they’re much more likely to engage with your sales team. It’s a quick win if you act fast and take advantage of it.
- Focus on customer segmentation. Some customers are high priority. With Livespace, it’s easier to spot the top ones. Our customer segmentation tool helps you set benchmarks for client evaluation and decide which ones are the most promising for you right now.
7. Iteration & analysis
Companies often claim that they either lack data or have data, but have no clue what to do with all those metrics. Analyzing your sales data is crucial if you want to keep your business development but also customer service or support center on track. Even with simple analysis, you are able to identify a lot of statistics, problems, and areas for improving your B2B sales strategy.
Executive Editor ContentDistribution.com
How can you analyze your sales process?
- Google Analytics can tell you the truth. You do not need to be an analytics master to recognize channels or content that bring you the best results and positively affect your conversion.
- Use tools like LiveSession to record sessions and analyze your customer’s behaviour. It can turn out that actually, they drop the deal because of a terrible UX (they are, for instance, stuck on a payment subpage), not a terrible sales team. You can win those leads back if you act quickly.
- Start from your team. The weakest sales link can be your team morale or approach, so work on it and try to find out how to boost performance. If possible – think of integrating your sales and marketing teams.
- Test out a lot. Lead management and nurturing are not single activities, but processes! Test landing page creation, types of content or even opening lines of your emails. This is the only way to ensure that you are heading in the right direction.
Quite often, salesmen make their prospect jump through so many pointless hoops. Your sales process should be no more complicated than 3 steps: Start with the client meeting and find out all the information you need to get the project done and create a proposal. Next, send a proposal with your terms and conditions attached, and the ability to sign online. Pick a good proposal software which will help you automate your proposal writing process and close more deals. The last step is the well-known follow-up. When you receive a notification that your proposal has been read, give them a day and send a follow-up email. Your proposal software should give you the information about which page the client has viewed the most. This will allow you to create a tailored email which points their biggest interest and will get you their feedback faster.
CEO Better Proposals
Marketing & sales: a blessing or a curse?
While marketing and sales may not always love each other, they need to learn how to collaborate. Without cooperation, it may be hard for both the marketing and sales team to achieve their goals and meet expectations.
Why is this collaboration important for optimizing B2B sales? Marketing has access to a lot of data about your prospects. This could be a valuable source for getting to know your customers better and creating a tailor-made sales approach to them.
How can these departments cooperate?
- Stick to the funnel. While the sales team takes care of closing deals, the marketing crew can do everything to deliver leads via content marketing or social media activities. Inquiries sent by current customers can be reported by the sales team to marketing people, and they will be able to create materials for clients and potential clients, explaining the matter of the problem or showing the solution.
- Mutual help. The sales team can deliver information on customers’ problems, and the marketing team can cover this topic in some upcoming blog posts. Also, the marketing team can be responsible for social media listening to deliver the sales team valuable insights into clients’ requirements and needs, and both parties may think about fulfilling those needs.
- Tailor your sales techniques better. Based on data collected by the marketing department, your sales team can adjust their strategy to meet the clients’ needs. You’ll know what they read about and where they spend most of their time. As soon as you find out, you can start targeting them there!
- Be sure you are on the same wavelength. Even if both departments have some separate goals, they should have a shared one: the company’s growth. If you lack internal communication, you may struggle to deliver results and share ideas. Care about collaboration within teams – you can use Stackfield as a tool for communication and collaborative work on documents and ideas with maintaining maximum productivity and security.
Optimizing B2B sales simply does not mean getting more leads, it means optimizing the sales funnel to achieve more with less, even if that means fewer but higher quality leads that can be converted fast leading to actual business growth.
One of the leading factors that can drive the optimisation of B2B sales is the alignment of the Sales and Marketing teams of their impact on the bottom line.
Quite often it is the case that the marketing is making its efforts driving website visitors and growing traffic to the website, but the Sales team is struggling with low-quality leads.
An alignment would mean a cross-functional team working together on the entire process of lead generation to revenue realisation.
One such example would be setting up a positive feedback loop wherein the sales team is able to continuously give feedback on the quality of leads in terms of conversion rate and revenue realisation across the channels that marketing is targeting to generate demand.
Using this feedback marketing team can invest in high performing channels and drive more revenue rather than operating in a silo without any realisation of the impact of their efforts on the bottom line.
At Easyleadz, being a small team we are able to work cross-functionally and measure the impact of our marketing efforts on sales, allowing us to focus our limited resources and energy on the right channels.
Head of Growth easyleadz.com
You definitely can’t modify your B2B sales process overnight or make all of your desired changes at the same time. However, you also can’t stay in the same place and do nothing about the sales process, especially if the results do not satisfy you at all. Take action, but step by step, no rush is advised.
Identify both your clients’ and your team’s needs in order to maximize your performance. Don’t be afraid of testing out, asking for feedback and learning to analyze metrics. B2B sales process is one hell of a ride, so fasten your seatbelt and start working on your B2B sales strategy before it’s too late.