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Complete B2B Sales Guide for Modern Sellers

Learn all about B2B sales, including how to assemble your team, the best culture to instill, and methods for increasing sales in our Complete Guide!

Gone are the days when B2B sales were about making a hundred cold calls a day or visiting clients in person.

Although cold calling and field sales still have a place in the sales cadence of many companies, the modern B2B buyer is looking for a different type of interaction with B2B sellers.

According to a review from HBR, 90% of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold outreach.

In the era of social selling, 74% of business buyers conduct most of their research independently before making a final decision. In fact, 41% of B2B buyers view 3 to 5 pieces of content online before contacting a sales rep.

That means that modern sellers need to develop digital sales skills, learn how to interact with buyers in a remote selling environment, and learn how to use remote selling tools.

In this article, I will go over the most important elements of B2B sales that both sales leaders and individual sales professionals need to know about, and how B2B sales works.

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What is B2B Sales?

Business-to-Business or B2B sales is a business transaction between two companies, usually in the form of infrastructure, materials, training, software, or other needs the buyer may have.

B2B sales typically have higher price points, more complex processes, and compliance issues than Business-to-Consumer sales. For instance, while a B2C sale can happen in a matter of minutes, a B2B sale may take months to complete.

Therefore, your approach in the B2B industry is different from that in B2C. To drive B2B sales, you need a team of highly trained professionals who fully understand the B2B environment, and can be capable of selling products and services.

We’re going to help you understand B2B sales processes, strategies, and more. Outside sales, we’ll outline the change of thinking required to adjust to the changing B2B sales landscape.

B2B Sales Cycle

Once you understand the B2B sales cycle, you can design an effective sales strategy. B2B usually has a longer sales cycle, often dictated by the buyer’s procurement processes and fiscal policy.

B2C B2B
Quicker, personal purchase decisions Buyers have to justify expenditure
Lower value, higher volume Higher value, lower volume
Marketing is major factor Relationship building is key
Shorter buying cycle Long-term strategy required

 

How To Build a B2B Sales Team

The make-up of your B2B sales team will depend on factors such as the sector you operate in, the nature of your products or services, and the size of your firm.

You’ll need a team to support your sales reps, so here we’ll outline what you’ll typically need. We’ll then recommend cultural elements that will help to optimize your close rate.

Sales Operations

The sales operations team manages the B2B sales pipeline. They help ensure consistency and make improvements when necessary. In doing so, they allow the sales reps to focus on pushing their numbers up.

Sales Enablement

To an extent, sales enablement straddles both operations and marketing. It seeks to improve client interaction and provide the B2B salesperson with content to increase deal sizes and improve win rates.

Sales Engineering

The sales engineering team isn’t simply a back-office technical team. As the prospect becomes more engaged, they’re bound to ask more detailed questions. They’re making a business decision, so they want as much information as possible.

The sales engineering team steps forward to answer the client’s questions, then hands back to the sales professional.

The potential buyer will be clearly dealing with a well-organized team that’s able to answer the most technical questions accurately and quickly.

Sales Management

The sales manager should be someone who is intimately familiar with the company’s sales processes and possesses strong leadership skills.

Their key role is to analyze the data from the sales team and ensure that the sales team stays on track with their targets. The role involves training, mentoring, and making data-driven decisions to help drive positive results.

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What Is a B2B Sales Team Culture?

While changes to the consumer’s purchase journey have been widely acknowledged, the business customer’s expectations from the B2B sales experience are often overlooked.

So how can we improve the business client’s experience so that they’re confident enough to come on board?

Here are some important factors that will help.

Collaboration

Not even the most skilled contract negotiator is an expert in every area of the business.

However, by introducing colleagues who are experts in their fields temporarily into the sales dialogue, the salesperson is utilizing the resources around them to maximize their chances of not only closing the deal but doing so more quickly. With their questions answered, the focus shifts back to the sales rep to progress the deal.

The customer can immediately see that there will be a clear structure and expertise available to support them if they decide to do business with you.

Transparency

If the client has to describe their question in full to every person they’re passed to, it could lead to frustration and result in them walking away.

If everyone has access to the complete client history, whoever’s asked to contact them already knows the question and can have an answer prepared.

A Sense of Common Goals

Striving towards a shared goal brings not only better financial well-being but also professional enrichment. For example, a technical person having direct contact with a prospect may be a little out of their comfort zone, but it can show them that they too have an integral part to play in the closing of a deal.

A results-driven, high performance culture won’t manifest itself overnight, especially without some work. At Vengreso, we have five unique sales culture elements we strive to drive success.

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B2B Sales Lead Generation

Sales teams can obtain leads from their marketing team or they can source them themselves through prospecting. At Vengreso, we advocate for omnichannel prospecting, which means reaching out to prospects through multiple channels.

How To Find New B2B Customers

There are dozens of ways of creating leads, but this doesn’t mean you should use them all. A major factor to consider is the nature of the product or service you’re offering. Certain channels are great for emergency purchases, such as people needing to find a local plumber, but they may not be as effective if your product or service doesn’t fall into that category.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective methods for generating B2B sales leads.

Social Selling

In the digital selling era, B2B salespeople must use social media to find, engage, and connect with prospects to start sales conversations. We have a social selling guide that examines the most effective social selling strategies.

Video for Sales

Video for sales is the most effective channel to connect with B2B customers. When sellers use personalized video messages they connect on an emotional level and stand out from the crowd.

Email Marketing

Statistics consistently show that this gives the highest return on investment (ROI) than any other lead generation method. However, for it to be effective, your sales emails need to be targeted to the correct person within each company.

Direct Mail

Like email marketing, you’ll need to find out who the decision-makers are (within a firm) and address your mail directly to them. Generic letters are highly likely to go straight into the trash. So try gift marketing instead.

Phone calls

Again, preparation is everything. Before beginning your marketing call, make a list of appropriate contacts within a business and then call them directly. Often, reception staff is asked to filter such calls, so you may never get to speak with the decision-maker.

Joint Ventures

Joint ventures can be an extremely effective and profitable way of creating B2B leads. Find a company that offers complimentary, but not competing, goods or services to enable cross-marketing.

For example, if your company offers corporate accountancy services, linking up with a business consultancy would allow each company to recommend the other’s services while adding value to their respective customers.

How to Engage B2B Customers

Gathering data about your client’s online movement through their buying process is only part of the story. Until they make a decision, they could shop anywhere. So how can you get them engaged with your firm?

It can be as simple as having a sales conversation with them. That’s how you get real insight into their needs, ambitions, limitations, and even their personality. Giving them a great, one-to-one experience could tip the balance in your favor.

Watch the video below to learn Effective Sales Engagement. If your sales reps are having a hard time connecting with prospects or you are not hitting your sales goals, that’s probably a good indicator that it’s time to try a new sales methodology.

B2B Sales Skills

It’s estimated that in our digital age, a B2B buyer completes around 70% of their buying journey without contacting the vendor. Therefore, if your attempt to involve yourself in the buyer’s journey is ill-conceived, not only do you face rejection, but they’re also likely to warn others to steer clear.

So how do you avoid that?

Digital Prospecting

A significant part of prospecting is carrying out your own research of your targeted prospects. A valuable source of information about professionals is LinkedIn, you can absolutely use LinkedIn for B2B sales.

Personal Branding

Personal branding is about building a reputation as being a valuable source of information without pushing sales. That way, buyers will naturally look to you during their research into your product or service. Get yourself known as a problem-solver by helping buyers with issues they’ve identified. Engaging in social selling can help you introduce your firm as having the answers to problems.

Networking

You’ll need to learn which networking channels your target buyers use. Then, you should get training on networking skills to enable you to leverage your presence in those channels.

Engaging

You need to use content that buyers will find informative and that will help them in their research. There are many digital tools that you can use to encourage engagements; one of the most popular ones is the webinar. By signing up for your webinar, the buyer has already reached out to you. A webinar is a great medium because it’s viewed as an educational session rather than a sales pitch.

Once it’s clear that the buyer is adequately engaged, it may be time to take the business relationship off the screen with a phone call.

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B2B Sales Funnel

The B2B sales funnel typically has four levels, which we’ll consider from top to bottom.

Awareness

The prospect understands what business problem their purchase must solve, and they’re looking for solutions online. You can start building a profile of them using the analytics of their movement through your website.

Interest

Once the prospect has established that your product may solve their problem, they’re going to want more detailed information about it. Here’s where you can use content and a call to action (CTA) to start the engagement process.

By giving them the opportunity to download an e-book or sign up for a webinar, you’re encouraging them to engage directly with your firm.

Once they’ve done that, it could be time for you to contact them via email or a phone call to consolidate that initial contact. However, before you do so, personalize the experience for them as much as possible. Learn as much about them as you can as a professional, their company, and significant recent changes to their industry which may (or may not) be driving their purchase requirement.

Consideration

Now that you’ve got the prospect to this third stage of the sales funnel, you’ll probably have to provide a demo of your product or provide evidence of the efficacy of your service.

Because the prospect is starting to think in terms of decision-making, now is an ideal time to find out if they’re the only person making the decision or if there are more parties involved.

Decision Time

At this stage, the prospect is ready to commit, but they need some additional reassurance that they’re making the right decision. You can provide specification sheets and relate those specs to their stated requirements and provide client testimonials.

A well-trained business to business sales rep will be able to overcome any common objections that may arise, such as cost or timing.

B2B Sales Process vs. B2B Sales Methodology

All sales organizations have a B2B sales process. It informs everyone in the team what steps need to be taken and when along the path to closing a deal.

What your sales process looks like depends entirely on the size, sector, and product or service offered.

The process forms the structure, but the sales methodology is the philosophy or culture behind how the process is executed.

It’s essential that the whole sales team is on board with the combination of these two elements so that they can carry out their roles as efficiently as possible.

B2B Sales Strategy

Through their online research, buyers are often already well-informed about what type of solution they need for their business.

Your business to business sales strategy should be constructed around them. You can easily obtain important information about their aims, management structure (who are the decision-makers?), budget, and timeline for buying.

However, there are certain aspects that are essential, whatever the profile of your potential client:

  • Learn about their company so you can have an informed conversation with them, and they can see your diligent approach.
  • Understand their needs, then relate back to them how your product or service has them covered.
  • Like all B2B buyers, they want to see ROI (return on investment). Demonstrate to them the bottom-line advantage that your product will bring.
  • Respond quickly to questions and pre-purchase technical support. They need to know what kind of support they can expect to receive once they become your customer.
  • Provide multiple product or service options that range in price points and feature/service level. Buyers who feel they’re being pushed to a single product are more likely to walk away and consider other options, including those offered by your competitors.
  • Do everything possible to speak face-to-face with the decision-maker if that’s not solely your current contact.

B2B Sales Growth

Once you have the contract, you’ll need to proactively manage the account.

New products are launched and there may be changes in the client’s business or their industry as a whole. By maintaining the relationship, you’ll have excellent opportunities to upsell. Upselling may solve problems that have arisen since the initial sale, or you may be able to sell add-ons.

Analytics is now a mainstay of any sales operation. Whether prospecting for new business or managing an existing account, analytics will enable you to understand buyers’ behavior. If you pay attention to this, you can use it to improve your team’s sales success.

Tips for B2B Sales

To sum up, here are some valuable tips that will help you turn a qualified lead into a business sale.

Connect With Decision Makers

You may not always manage to contact the decision-makers in the prospect company right away, but don’t waste time with employees who have no purchasing power. As soon as you can, connect with those who do. You can leverage the best text expander tool for that!

Rehearse Your Sales Pitch

When you’re confident in your delivery, you’ll be able to pay more attention to what the prospect says and jump between multiple points in your pitch accordingly.

Research Your Prospect

Before you contact them, have some understanding of your prospect’s business and their specific sector. It can equip you with insight on potential pain points that you can address with them.

Remember, It Can Be a Long Sales Cycle

Just as you have your sales processes, B2B buyers have procurement processes.

They usually have numerous touchpoints before a decision is made. They may even have a policy of only spending money at certain points of their fiscal year. It’s important that you understand these factors.

Do you have the Skills for B2B Sales Success?

At Vengreso, we have helped thousands of sellers to level up their digital selling skills and become masters at prospecting.

Is business to business sales hard? No problem! You can take advantage of our virtual sales training program today and join Modern Sales Mastery for Individuals, a sales training program aimed at sellers, business owners, and sales teams of up to 14 sales reps. Click on the image below to learn more.

Are you a sales leader of a team of 15 or more sellers? Contact us today for a customized training program.

By Mario Martinez Jr.

Mario is the CEO and Founder of Vengreso. He spent 85 consecutive quarters in B2B Sales and Leadership. He is one of 20 sales influencers invited to appear in the Salesforce.com documentary film “The Story of Sales” launched in 2018.  He was also named 2019’s Top 10 Sales Influencers by The Modern Sales Magazine, 2018’s Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional and Selling Power Magazine’s 2018 Top Sales Training and Coaching Consultant.  Mario is the host of the popular The Modern Selling Podcast.

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