Although the concept of making a sale seems simple, B2B sales is more than just a transaction; it requires intricate strategies to convince all the people involved in the business deal.
B2B sales, also known as business to business sales, refers to companies who primarily sell products and services to businesses, rather than direct to consumers (B2C). The fact that sales happen between business entities means that the process is often more complicated than selling to a consumer – B2B sales typically have higher order values, longer sales cycles and are often more complex than B2C sales.
A generalized process to close a sales deal with an account would be to identify and select target accounts, research the common challenges/requirements of the companies, tailor a personalized proposition for the company, and lastly reach out to them.
The conversion of a B2B lead to a successful sales deal requires various tactics by a sales representative. The most crucial step is recognizing the methods to outreach which will deliver better performance. Most of the salespeople mentioned that the winning outbound channels are employee and customer referrals and social selling. Channels such as lead lists, company events, and email campaigns tend to have the lowest performance.
Sales representatives need to present buyers with a well-crafted solution that meet their requirements, but they face a lot of hindrances while closing a deal. The most common challenges are the presence of low-price competitors in the market, selling the differentiating factor of their product, convincing the company to change their current way, and to adopt a new system.
To overcome these obstacles, salespeople need to identify the methods that drive the sales in a positive direction with a higher likelihood. They need to recognize which methods to use for a set of target companies which will result in a greater response and will lead to closing the sales deal. Most effective activities that a sales representative can take on are:
- Social Selling – Social selling in not an option, but rather a necessity nowadays. Social selling designates a process of using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) to build relationships with potential clients and convert them into paying customers. Companies sell on social media because their customers are there and because it’s very likely that their competitors are already there too. Many salespeople, more than 40%, mentioned that they have closed between two to five deals as a direct result of social selling. It is the most popular and the most effective activity to convert a lead into a successful customer.
- Customer/Employee Referrals – Consumers/businesses trust referrals from people they know. A Marketshare report notes that word-of-mouth can improve marketing effectiveness by as much as 54%. Businesses using referrals as part of their regular marketing see conversion rates up to 70% higher, and they also report a 69% faster close time. Offering a reward to the current customers will attract more referrals from them, thereby increasing the business pool and because it is coming from a trusted source the new potential business is more likely to close the deal. Keeping track of which incentive was offered, to which group, and at what time can be used to measure the success of these efforts and come up with a repeatable strategy over time.
- Cold Calling and Email Campaigns – Cold calling is a technique of contacting potential customers over the phone in order to solicit business. Traditionally, this process involves going through a lead list and calling each potential entity one by one, who may or may not know about the product. Making an effective cold call is tricky because the variety of possible responses from your prospect. Many times, the recipient will simply hang up; or put the telephone number in a spam list and will pick up the call. Furthermore, the comparative attractiveness of cold calling is decreasing in comparison with more modern types of prospecting like using social media to reach out. Sending out cold emails, which requires much lower time investment per prospect, is also an option salespeople use but it has a low response rate and has not proven to be any more effective at generating leads.
- A Particular Day in the Week – A lot of salespeople believe that on selective days they receive good responses from the leads and even close the deals in some cases. This can be attributed to the fact that, on a specific day the general workload of a company is less and hence they have spare time on hands to indulge in conversations and hence are more likely to listen and respond.
- Maintaining Relationships around Festivals – Eventually, all the nurtured leads that turn into business are due to effective interaction between a sales representative and the maintenance of that relationship. At certain times in the year, for instance, at the end of the year, people are more generous and are willing to spend, so these times give the sales representative an opportunity to strengthen their personal connections, and even rekindle old relationships, by taking interest in the future of peoples’ businesses. These conversations can often lead to up-sells, contract renewals, or referrals that will shore up the pipeline for next year.
A sales rep needs to spend less time on non-selling activities like paperwork and more time in prospecting the leads and working on their activity tactics and building relationships since these are the factors that will improve the sales and seal the deal with higher probability.