The Ultimate Guide to B2B sales

if you want to know about B2B sales process and what is the ways of attracting customers, this is the right place for you.

B2B sales tactics and techniques are also explained to help you choose the best growth strategy in B2B sales process.

You also need to bear in mind that, B2B sales have changed a lot, due to technological advancements and old techniques are not working anymore.

The agenda of this blog is shown below:

  • B2B sales definition, B2B vs B2C and B2B inside, outside sales
  • How to start or improve your B2B sales performance
  • B2B sales process main steps
  • B2B sales mistakes

B2B sales

Business to business (B2B) sales is a term referred to businesses that sell their products or services to another business instead of directly selling them to individual customers or in the other words B2C.

Now you need to know about differences between B2B and B2C sales process.

B2B vs B2C sales

As you know, B2B is different than B2C in many ways. we have divided their differences into different categories. Generally, Buyers, Sales cycle, Decision-makers, and transition rate are the most significant categories.

Buyers:

In B2B sales, buyers are in charge of the target company, and examining products and services to buy is part of their job. While B2C buyers, buy products, or services to meet individual needs.

B2B buyers may also have received various training about buying and selling products. Then if you are working as B2B sales, you need to bear in mind that your target customers are more professional and more educated than uninitiated customers in B2C sales process.

Sales cycle:

As previously mentioned, B2B buyers are another business and they are more cautious and careful with their decisions. before deciding, they research different companies. so, they are hard to convince.

compared to a supermarket that sells to a regular customer, selling products or services to another business is longer.

Decision-makers/ stakeholders:

Since the buyer in B2B sales is another business, usually more than one person is participating in the decision-making process. Whereas, only one person is considered to be a decision-maker in B2C sales process.

Transition rate:

In general, transactions and trading rate of B2B sales are higher than B2C.

B2B Inside sales vs B2B outside sales

You, as a B2B sales company, have two different choices to offer your products or services to your customers. You also can use both strategies and divide your sales reps into two different teams.

These two strategies, as you have seen in Title, are inside sales and outside sales.

So in the inside sales team, while members are in the office, use different tools like phone, email, and online interaction platforms to introduce their products and sell them to customers. In comparison, sales reps who have a direct and face-to-face connection with customers, and sells products to them, are called outside sales.

How to start or improve your B2B sales performance

B2B sales process has changed rapidly with technological advancements. It’s been easier for target customers or buyers to compare different businesses and choose the best for them. It’s also been a challenging issue for businesses to attract customer’s attention.

Now if you want to know how to survive and improve your business to attract more customers, you should consider the following tips.

Enter the competition

Let’s think of it as a competition. Your goal is to find the right customers and attract them to your products or services. And convince them to buy from you.

First of all, you need to enter the competition! Introduce your company and specify your products or services in detail for buyers or customers. Therefore, you need to develop a website and join different social Media to exist in the competition. You should know the more social media, the more customers. Therefore, you should establish a social media presence along with your website.

The most significant social media are LinkedIn and Facebook. You also choose others based on your opinion.

Analyze your competitors constantly

If you want to be a successful B2B sales manager, you should know your market and competitors. You should not stop analyzing your competitors. Find your best B2B sales companies in your market and research them.

  1. Visit their website: you may have found out you could attract many customers through your website. study the details of their products and what has made them popular. Also, find the posts with more visits on their website.
  2. Call them as a customer: if you want to find what’s going on, call them and ask them to describe their products or services for you as a customer.

Find your Customers’ needs

After analyzing your competitors and your market, now you can find the main customer’s needs. Try to imagine yourself as a customer and then ask yourself “what are my needs and what I want to solve”. Then you will find how to be an ideal B2B salesperson. You could also conduct research and collect their common questions. Make a list of current challenges and problems that most of your audience has faced. Then try to dedicate a solution to each of them. Then in the next tip, you should provide people with this helpful information to attract their attention.

Provide helpful information

After finding customers’ needs and concerns, try and help them. Start providing them with the information that they need on your website.

  • Make different posts in your website to meet their needs.
  • Prepare short and effective answers for their common questions
  • Create videos and photos to attract more attention
  • Hold webinars
  • write books or eBooks
  • guides, Reports
  • Courses and Quizzes
  • Ask them to leave a comment if they need more help
  • Introduce your products and services in the whole process as a solution

In a nutshell, you need to be a reference for their problems and questions. This will push them to buy from you. 

Use the right Tools

Using proper tools helps to facilitate the sales process. use them to reduce distance and time barriers.

CRM

keeping track of customers, collecting their information and a regular plan to reminds you of your tasks, especially in the inside sales process, helps you to sell more efficiently. So using a CRM facilitates the remote and online working process. It will help you reduce the time of searching for previous customers or prospects. You have all information and your plans altogether.

Salesforce Maps, Map my customers, Pipedrive CRM, and Hubspot is examples of CRM sales management software.

Video conferencing tools

Moreover, you could use different video conferencing tools to helps you have an online meeting with your customers. Skype and Zoom are the most common tools used for video conferencing. They both give users a free plan to use. 

Use B2B email marketing

use it to build better relationships and more customers. You can also use a mail tracker to make sure who has or has not read your emails yet. Based on that you could also add reminders.

  • In your B2B sales email, you should pay close attention to some points that are:
  • It will be better if your email contains new ideas for helping businesses.
  • A direct sales pitch will not work most of the time
  • Provide a unique content
  • Personalize email for each business
  • Use a well-structured text
  • Do not use memes in B2B emails
  • Use software to see if the customer opens your email or not (Mailtrack, cloudHQ, Mailalert, MixMax, and GMass are some free Email tracking software)
  • If your customer did not open your mail, repeat it after at least 1-week

tracking tool

Tracking helps sales teams to plan their routes more effectively. If you want to manage sales reps efficiently, you could use our location-tracking tool. There are several benefits to tracking sales using our sales reps tracking tool. As for one thing, you find where your sales reps are now. For another thing, you will find out if a meeting takes a long time and if you need to help your sales rep in negotiation with customers.

online and offline ordering

if your sales rep wants to register an order, that is better to use an application. They may forget it or lose it if they use paper. Also, the ability to register an order when you are offline is important. Our software gives sales reps the ability to register orders both online and offline.

territory management tool

Assign a particular region to each sales rep then you could plan an optimal management method. By using our tool, you could make different zones on maps and simply dedicate each zone to a sales rep. by using this tool; you will make sure that you did not miss any location of your desired distribution area.

GPS check-ins

GPS check-ins allow sales reps to check-in at the customer’s location. Viewing the check-ins on a map makes has several benefits. It helps sales reps to use improved route planning tools, you could find how a meeting does takes time usually, and you have your customer’s information all in one place. We have provided our customers with a GPS check-in tool for its mentioned benefits.

Develop the communication skills of your team

The ways of Communicating and attracting customer’s attention in face-to-face visits are different from those in the virtual world through text, voice, or video calls. Therefore, you need to know what is the right way of speaking to a customer in each type of communicating. You can also follow the below tips.

  • Be a good listener
  • Practice and learn
  • Improve your presentation skills
  • Always manage the time
  • Communicate with your co-workers
  • Be ready to speak with an unhappy customer
  • Have a Prepared speech to introduce your company

Declare your team’s duties

 Your teams must know their specific duties and their plans for every single day. You should divide duties between them and ask each of them to their best.

You could divide your prospects based on different criteria (like industry or location) and assign each member of your team to them. Then each member should start emailing them or cold calling them while gathering their information. Then make their prospects into real customers.

Also, never forget about outside sales. Many companies invest their whole time and energy on inside sales.

Since in B2B sales, transaction rate is higher than B2C sales, target businesses may need to hear from you face to face. This may even help them trust you more.

B2B sales process main steps

Now that you have learned about fundamentals, it is time to find out how to sell B2B. No doubt converting a prospective client to a customer is complex and hard. However, following these steps helps you have a clear vision of the whole process. If you do each step carefully and correctly, most probably you will close with a sale. If you want a more successful process, make sure you have done what has mentioned in the “How to start or improve your B2B sales performance”.

We divided the whole process into 6 steps, which we have described each one here.

Step 1: Research

As mentioned in the last section, to find where you are standing in your market, current industry trends, who are you your ideal customer, and what are the main strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, you need to conduct research.

Being up-to-date always makes you one step ahead of your competitors and gives you a higher chance to attract new customers. To be exact, you need to research your competitors and your customers. First, let us start with your competitors.

 1-Research about your market

You cannot get successful without analyzing your competitors. You need to be aware of day-to-day changes and fit yourself into different situations.

  • First, find the best companies in your market and examine them carefully.
  • Try to find their one or two things that made them special
  • Find their weaknesses
  • Compare their strengths and weaknesses with yourself
  • Try to catch their strengths
  • Try to solve their faults with your solution

This whole process may be easy at first, but it is very hard to catch. You may find it pointless at first but if you would have known the real name and process, you will try it.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is a technique that refers to comparing your business to others in different ways and trying to follow their strengths. Decision-makers are persistently on the lookout for techniques to facilitate quality enhancement. Benchmarking is imperative for performance and many famous companies have done it.

We can name some great and successful benchmarking processes in the world:

  • Xerox vs Japanese companies like Minolta
  • General motors vs Ford (general motors tried to improve labor hours per vehicle)
  • Henry Ford vs slaughterhouse (Ford saw carcasses hung from the ceiling were pushed to different stations and used this idea to create the first assembly line)

2-Research about customers

To know about your audience and who your ideal customer is, you need to make a persona that helps you picture your ideal customer. Make sure that you know decision-makers in the target company and they can afford to buy from you.

A B2B customer persona could include information about:

  • Decision maker’s (customer) personal information: age, gender, income, education, etc.
  • Position in company
  • Their problems and challenges
  • How our product/ service will help them

3-Prospects

Trying to reach a lead, which does not fit in your ideal persona, is wasting time. You need to research your prospects before doing anything. There are a couple of professional networks that you can use. You can use these networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook, and gain necessary information about your prospects. Three main features you need to consider are:

  • Budget
  • Goals
  • Authority

Now you are ready for the next step.

Step 2:  conduct your initial contact

Now you need to get in front of your potential customers and introduce yourself to them. You should develop a wide circle of contacts. In B2B sales, you could do it through inbound or outbound marketing.

  • Inbound marketing: you could prepare useful posts on your company blog. People will become interested in your posts and then you can turn interested readers into customers. Different tools could be helpful during this process like post visits and video visits.
  • Outbound marketing: you could try direct marketing like emailing a brochure, cold calling a prospect, or even holding a meeting. As previously mentioned you could use email trackers and email marketing software.

Step3: Qualifying your prospects again

Even after researching your prospects and conducting the first contact, a large number of them cannot be your potential customers. Therefore, you need to reconsider them to prevent wasting time and energy.

Again, collect information about their needs, their budget, and find a decision-maker with authority in their company.

Also, you could use the results of your initial contact. For example, a customer who has opened your email and clicked on your website link is more eligible than the one who even does not open your email.

In cold calling, you should listen carefully to their answers and ask them about their needs, budget, and authority to buy from you. You can prepare your questions before calling, or simply prepare a form to fill it with your desired information.

The desired form may contain questions about:

  1. What is your plan for the next 6 months?
  2. What are the challenges in your work?
  3. What solutions did you try?
  4. Do you have the authority to choose a solution?
  5. How much could you invest to solve your problem?
  6. Are you interested in “your product/solution/service”?

You should compare them based on different criteria and choose the most probable potential customers for the next step.

Step 4: pitch

This step needs the most amount of time and energy in the whole process of B2B sales. You should use the information in the previous step to introduce your product/ solution/ service to the customer. 

You can use different tools like video conferencing software like skype or plan a meeting.

  1. You should first introduce your company and the main goal of your business.
  2. Describe the problems and challenges that exist
  3. Describe how your product/ service offers a way to solve them
  4. Name your best features against other similar companies
  5. During the whole process, Listen to their words and again try to collect more information about their situations and needs
  6. Ask your prospect to tell their opinion and their questions and eliminate their ambiguities

Step5: Follow up

After presenting your service/product, you need to have a plan to follow up. For this, you should prepare a formal cost proposal and send it to the customer. It is important when you send it, do not send it too soon or too late and do not bother customers by sending it repeatedly.

It also requires your persistence and perception. You need to understand your customer’s problems and what they are worried about. Then, try to offer your product/service as a solution to their problems.

You need to have a clear understanding of customer’s concerns and maybe you should explain again positive aspects of your solution for them. Stay tuned while you follow up with your customer.

Step 6: close the sale

It is the final step of the B2B sales process. The customer wants to buy your product/ service and your prospects are ready to purchase. Your customer may hesitate about buying; you should again discuss their concerns. You should again attract their attention and make them trust you.

If you rush into this step or do not address customer needs, the whole process will fail. If you have done the previous steps correctly and completely, you will not face any problems in this step.

Briefly, there are some important points you should know:

  • Always be ready to explain again
  • Don’t rush into anything
  • Be prepared to close the sale anytime
  • Do not be anxious
  • Ask questions which answers of all are YES (would you like to buy your monthly needs or yearly? would you like to pay with a check or credit card?)
  • Let your customers take time and think about its

B2B sales mistakes

Making mistakes could ruin all your efforts to turn a prospect into your customer. Business salespeople like others, need to practice and learn from their mistakes.

In this part, we help you to avoid common mistakes.

Mistake 1: Forgetting customers information

One of the most important strategies in the B2B sales process was to research your customers and know their concerns. Never forget that information is power.

Now what will happen if you say:

  • “Sorry, what was your name?”
  • “Sorry, what was your business?”
  • “You said you can afford it or not?”
  • “Do your authority”?

The answer is you make customers disappointed and they will find you a seller who just focus on selling. This will make them uncomfortable to describe yourself for you every time.

Instead, write every detail of your customers, and before a meeting or call review them to have the power of running the session.

Mistake 2: focusing on money

You may think selling is the most important part of your job. You are wrong! Building relationships and developing a wide circle of contacts is the most significant one.

You should never forget that you should look like a person who wants to solve the customer’s problems by offering a service or product. Soon after they find you a seller who just focuses on selling, they will hesitate to buy from you. You should carefully address their concerns and needs.

While you are speaking, use the word “suggest” instead of “must”:

Instead of saying:

“You must use as service as a solution.”

Simply say:

“I suggest you consider our service as a solution to this problem, because ….”

Mistake 3: Rushing into the close step

Give enough time to your customers to consider your proposal. You should never look like a pushy salesperson.

While you are waiting for the next follow up, use the time to find why your customers hesitate and how to attract their attention. Instead of rushing, make yourself ready for the last step and after a proper time follow up your customer.

Mistake 4: forgetting about outside sales

Most of the B2B sales are focusing on B2B inside sales because they think it is both time-efficient and cost-efficient. However, if customers have a face-to-face meeting with a sales rep, they may trust easier. Never forget that in B2B sales, the transaction rate is higher than B2C sales, you need to try to attract their attention.

Mistake 5: Not doing research

Never forget to research your customers. Always keep in mind the power of information.

You should try to collect more clues and information about your customer business and their concerns. You could do it in several ways.

  • Looking at their website, social media
  • Analyzing their competitors
  • Asking questions about them
  • Listening to them
  • Digging through CRM data
  • Taking notes

Mistake 6: going to the wrong person

One of the benefits of researching is that you are qualified to decide. If you just speak to anybody in the target company, you are just wasting your time.

You should find out who is the person with authority that can make a purchasing decision.

You also may find that there is more than one person (usually 7 persons) participating in the decision-making process. So, you need to know all this information to approach your goal.

Mistake 7: Making impossible promises

Being unfaithful to your promises is one of the worst things in the B2B sales process. It will ruin all your efforts and the customer will hesitate to buy from you.

Keep in mind never lie about your product or service. Your customers will find it and will stop buying from you. Overpromising and lying are the same.

Instead, make the specifications of your product/ solution clear for your customer. It will help you to be a trusted advisor or salesperson. It means you have built a trustworthy relationship with a customer.

Mistake 8: talking instead of listening

When you are speaking with a customer, you may want to tell them everything about your product or service features and their benefits. By speaking too much you can’t know what is your customer’s priority and what is their bigger concern.

So you will lose the opportunity to offer your product or service to them as a solution to their problems. Try to have an interactive talking with your customers. Ask more questions and collect more information about them.

Listening will help you know your customers better. Then based on their needs, concerns, and expectations, you can describe your service/product benefits and specifications as a solution.

You should ask them about:

  • goals
  • Challenges
  • competitors
  • budget
  • expectations from a solution

Mistake 9: Not following up

If you don’t follow up with your customers, they will forget about you. they may easily go to your competitors. You could follow up with your customers by phone or a personalized email. Sometimes, you need to repeat it when you do not get an answer from them.

If your prospects tell you they need more time to think, make sure don’t bother them by following up too soon. Instead, ask them to tell you what is their concerns. Then try to again, describe your solution shortly and let them take time to rethink.

You also need to follow up with all decision-makers who are participating in the decision-making process. They may be up to 7 people in some companies. 

Following up is not only for companies who are in the process of buying from you. If someone asked a question from you in social media, email, or other ways, you should make sure you have to respond to them properly.

Mistake 10: not updating your product/service

The truth is, if you want to be successful, you need to be one of the bests. You should always work on your products/ services and based on your customer’s feedbacks improve them.

This helps you to satisfy your customers. When you have happy customers, they will come back to you again and they will leave you positive reviews. Simple positive feedback and comments from your customers are essential for your progress.

The Ultimate Guide to B2B sales

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