So you want to boost your B2B sales?
Well, gone are the days where one secret sales message or master technique worked magic for everyone that tried it.
Traditional sales techniques are working less and less nowadays as a result of new innovations in technology. According to industry professional, Logan Chierotti, who wrote recently wrote in Business 2 Community believes to compete in 2017 and beyond when there are an estimated 33 billion devices connected to the internet, “tailored content is what makes a sale. Personalization in today’s market may be more challenging, but it’s essential to stand out from the crowd.”
People have more access to information thanks to the internet than ever before. They can use their devices to research your company, product or service before you even give them your sales pitch. Personalization is important not just to B2C sales but to B2B as well. Tailoring and personalization can increase and improve sales. However, personalization is just one way to increase sales.
Design a Sales Process
Recently George Bronten, CEO of Membrain, in an article published on LinkedIn stated that, “despite compelling evidence that companies with a sales process sell more, many don’t have a documented one that is executed by everyone”, which means that without the structure that a sales process provides even the most experienced sales people will have opportunities fall through the cracks. Not having a structured sales process in place can cause longer sales cycles, and can cause junior sales people to make mistakes and other issues.
A quality sales process is one that is well designed, improves the skills of salespeople, allows the replication of best practices and minimizes risk for the buyer and seller. The sales process consists of stages, milestones, and activities.
Here is what a sales process might look like:
- Segment your target customers
- Prospect, research, and prequalify
- Understand your buyer
- Position with value and priority
- Drive consensus and commitment
- Deliver on promises
It is important to add key activities and buyer-focused milestones once you have outlined the stages in the sales process. Key activities are the activities that your salespeople will actually perform so they need to be hammered home.
Know your competition
When it comes to your competitors do you truly know who you are up against? Not knowing your competitors and ignoring them can cause you to lose a sale. At the end of the day and when push comes to shove, the only thing standing in the way of a sale is the competition.
In B2B sales, there are usually three types of competitors.
The Status Quo
According to Bob Apollo, who wrote on LinkedIn the first competitor can be described as the status quo. “No matter how interested the prospect might appear to be, unless and until they perceive the pain and risks of change to be far less than the costs and risks of sticking with their current situation, they will almost inevitably conclude that they might as well stick with what they already have.”
If the customer perceives change as riskier, more painful, and more costly they will stick to what they have. In order to defeat the status quo, you have to give everyone involved in the buying a process a compelling need for action. It has to be something that they can buy into. It has to be personalized to each buyer.
Other Companies Like Yours
Once there is a compelling reason to change the status quo, the second competitor is competition—meaning other companies such as yours.
In this phase, it is important to shape the buyer’s vision of a solution. It is about knowing what the buyer’s vision of a solution is. Do you represent that vision at the solution level and at the company level? The sale will go to the one who shaped the buyer’s vision of their future solution. If your competitor gets there first then they will be the one to shape the buyer’s vision. At that point, it will be too late to reshape that vision.
The third competitor is a company’s priorities. Companies don’t have unlimited resources to invest in every project. Even if the project has a budget there is no guarantee that the money will be spent.
If your customer sees something that they feel is more important than your project then it’s highly likely that your project will be cancelled or put on hold – that’s why understanding how your customer prioritizes their work is important. Understanding and identifying high-level competition, even within a company’s day-to-day operations, is critical for successful sales.
Personalization is necessary in order to stand out from the crowd. Businesses that leverage personalization have higher conversion rates by an average of 40%.
Personalization isn’t exactly a new tactic. Salespeople in 2012 who engaged in social media outperformed their colleagues by 78%.
Here is how you can apply it to your business:
- Personalized Loyalty or rewards programs aren’t just for B2C companies. They can be used in B2B as well. Loyalty programs are a great way to reward frequent customers. You can offer discounts or anything that will encourage them to come back.
- Use CRM software to get a deeper understanding for your customers. CRM software provides many ways to personalize customer relationships and provides your salespeople with all of the information that they need. It also allows you to setup regular communications with prospects and leads and even send special offers to select customers when the timing is ideal.
Personalization should be done right away. According to a survey conducted in 2015, personalized offers lead up to a 400 percent increase in the likelihood of responses from prospects and leads. It also leads to higher conversion rates and builds brand loyalty.
Get in the Right Mindset
Another reason why B2B teams don’t win as many deals as they should is that they are out of sync. It is important for marketing and sales to be in the right mindset.
The first step to achieving this is everyone agreeing on who the target market is and what the buyer persona looks like. Your team’s answers should be definitive and actionable. Statements such as “I want to sell to everyone” do not hit the mark. You need to be specific so that you can target with effective strategies.
The key is to be specific about who your target market is.
According to a post in Business 2 Community, written by visionary entrepreneurial marketing leader, Peter Buscemi, “the best way for marketing to be truly integrated with sales is to stack the deck—focus all outbound efforts against a database that only contains potential MQLs”.
An MQL is a marketing qualified lead. In order for anyone to be a qualified lead, they have to meet certain criteria first. Some marketers will create a qualified lead-based scoring. Behavioural and social activity are key indicators of what may constitute a qualified lead. Ideally, if both marketing and sales follow the same guidelines, they will both be on the same page, and your salespeople will be set up for success.
Overcoming B2B Obstacles
There can be many B2B sales obstacles. For example, Matt Haag, Owner of SimpleData, wrote in a recent post, that not getting enough visitors to your site, long buying cycles, and no personalization are all obstacles that will prevent you from boosting your B2B sales.
Not knowing who your competition is and not having synchronization between marketing and sales teams will prevent sales. However, when you give your customers a personalized experience, have a synced marketing and sales team, know your competitors, and have a well-designed sales process, you will have a more efficient business and see an obvious uptick in sales.