B2B Sales: Everything You Need to Know
Guest post by Dan Sincavage from Tenfold.
Business-to-business (B2B) sales are entirely different to consumer sales. Typically, the whole process is more complex. Sales reps need to deal with a head of a department or buying authority — someone who has the final say before a transaction can be completed. As a result, reps need to nurture business leads and slowly move them through the sales funnel. Here’s how these professionals master B2B sales and boost revenue.
The B2B Sales Cycle
The B2B sales cycle starts long before a sales rep even contacts a business. In fact, 57 percent of the decision-making process is carried out before a marketer communicates with a B2B buyer. Usually, a business has already started to make up their mind about the products and services they are interested in. They might have seen a company’s advertisement on television or visited their website — nine out of 10 online buyers say content influences purchasing decisions. It’s a sales rep’s job to convince these business customers to make a purchase.
B2B selling companies use a variety of marketing channels to communicate with buyers. These include phone, email and live chat. Most of them have already nurtured business customers before they make contact: sales reps have a 56 percent better chance of attaining quota when they engage with buyers before contacting a company.
As sales reps work on commission, they want to secure as many sales as possible. They do this by discovering the client’s pain points — real or perceived issues that businesses have. Sales reps solve these problems with a product or service that provides the client with a solution.
“Great sales reps make it look easy, but superior performance usually indicates that a salesperson has taken the time to hone their skills and is constantly iterating to help their prospects better,” says Dan Tyre, writing for HubSpot.
B2B Sales Techniques
Marketers use many different B2B sales techniques. Eighty-four percent of B2B sales start with a referral, so the client often already knows about a rep’s product. This makes it easier for marketers to close a deal. However, they still need to convince the client to invest in their product.
Sales experts say that having a good attitude, using targeted list building, personalizing communications and not taking “no” for an answer improves B2B sales. However, every sales rep is different. What works for one marketer won’t necessarily work for another. Reps should develop their own strategies when nurturing leads in the B2B sales cycle. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for the daily challenges that might come up in the marketing sphere,” says marketing expert Sajeel Qureshi, writing for The Huffington Post.
B2B sales used to be associated with cold calling. As 90 percent of decision makers won’t respond to cold calls, according to research, sales reps now use new digital technologies to facilitate B2B sales. Mobile marketing, for example, lets marketers communicate with prospects via a smartphone, while email automation delivers targeted marketing messages.
Social media is also important. Research shows that B2B salespeople who utilize social media are 79 percent more likely to meet their sales quotas. Many marketers nurture leads with targeted social media campaigns that showcase products on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This is effective for brand exposure and makes it easier to secure a deal later on in the sales pipeline. Fifty-four percent of B2B marketers say they have produced leads from social networks.
Reps use other, more conventional, B2B sales techniques, too. Trade shows are still the primary source for B2B lead generation — 77 percent of marketers say they produce a significant number of leads. Moreover, 59 percent believe print marketing is effective for B2B.
Measuring B2B Sales
Analytics tools track the entire B2B sales process, from initial contact through to final purchase. This software displays key performance indicators and B2B Sales factors, such as the cost of customer acquisition, sales team response times, sales growth and the lifetime value of a customer. Marketers can use this data to make important sales decisions and predictions about future outcomes.
Marketers, on average, only qualify around a third of leads. This is why it’s important for sales reps to track their marketing efforts so they can discover which methods provide the biggest return. One way to do this to segment B2B clients. Segmentation lets sales reps target leads who share common interests and behaviors — something that often proves lucrative. Moreover, B2B demographics are often smaller than consumer demographics, making segmentation easier. The average B2B buying group contains 5.4 people, according to one study.
B2B sales form the bedrock of many business-related operations. Sales reps use a plethora of marketing techniques to seal the deal, from mobile to social media. Marketers can then measure B2B sales with the latest analytics software. While B2B buyers take longer to nurture than consumers, marketers can secure lucrative sales opportunities when they focus on these clients.