Ninety Thousand Hours

9 Insider Tips for Closing More B2B Sales

Every B2B sales business wants to know the secrets to closing more sales

After all, this market is notoriously hard to crack and it’s no secret that selling to other businesses is usually harder than selling to customers.

This is a high-stakes game that necessitates a strategic, expert and stand-alone sales approach that is tailored to the audience and market (rather than borrowed from B2C sales tactics). Successful firms in this space have long since acknowledged this.

Start with that mindset and be prepared to learn, adapt your approaches, feedback into your sales process, and keep refining your techniques. You will see your success rate spike.

There are two key things to keep in mind when selling as a business to another business:

  1. Transactions tend to be higher in value than with B2C sales
  2. Sales cycles tend to be longer

With these two factors in mind, your approach to mastering B2B sales needs to be professional and strategic and creating a B2B sales process is a key to success!

The following steps will help you to create a workable process that delivers results.

  1. Carry out market research
  2. Ascertain your specific target market
  3. Create buyer personas
  4. Map out the user’s journey
  5. Arrange an initial meeting to kick off the process
  6. Work the lead through to client phase – closing the deal
  7. Measure results and seek further improvements
  8. Work closely with the marketing department
  9. Play the long game

Let’s look at each step in closer detail…

1. Carry out market research

The purpose of this high-level activity is to ascertain the existing level of demand for your offer. Identify the key competitors in your segment and then work out what their sales strategies and techniques are. Look for examples as to what they are doing in the market. This will help you to work out what your prospects are hearing from the competition. Clearly, you shouldn’t simply dive in at this stage and copy those approaches verbatim. However, look for examples of best practice which might influence what you do.

2. Ascertain your target market

Don’t waste time targeting clients who don’t actually fall within your target segment. Use your business CRM to mine for data that helps you to identify ‘true’ prospects and leads. Too much time is often wasted chasing after marginal businesses or those which simply aren’t going to be receptive to your offer. Focus on the most strategically important businesses first and work outwards.

3. Create buyer personas

Which media, tech or SAAS companies actually look like your ‘ideal buyer’? By creating a persona, you can contextualise your information and make it easier to understand. Carry out targeted research into businesses that interest you in order to build up target data. For example, have they recently delivered a new product or marketing campaign? Have they had a change in their leadership team? Are they progressing from start-up to scale up? By gathering this data, you can better establish whether or not there is likely to be demand for your own offer. The more effort you put into researching and gathering relevant data, the more effectively you can position your offer as the ‘perfect solution’.

4. Map out the user journey

This involves working out how the customer will actually buy what you are offering. To do this, work through the Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA) process. Note that the interest phase, in the context of B2B, will involve a good deal of research from the customer as to how their needs can be met. Once you have this journey in place, it becomes far easier to pinpoint where your prospects and existing clients are at and tailor your approaches so that they are appropriate.

5. Get that ZOOM meeting booked

If your lead is ready to hear your sales pitch, then they are a qualified lead. Of course, not everyone that demonstrates an interest in your product or service will convert to a qualified lead. To establish whether a prospect is becoming sales qualified, work out:

– What is the problem that they are trying to fix (this will help you to determine whether your own offer will be able to provide the solution).

– Have they previously tried to fix the problem – and why didn’t they manage last time? (This will give you context and flag up pain points for the customer to which you can respond if your own offering is a fit).

– Who is the decision-maker? It is all too common for salespeople to spend time selling to someone who doesn’t ultimately make the decisions. Spend time identifying who actually makes the decisions and target them.

If you can answer the questions above in a positive way, then it’s time to move towards a virtual meeting/product demo. Make sure you have good video software and turn the camera on so that you can pitch your offer with a smiling face, answer questions, and begin to build a relationship.

6. Close the deal!

With B2B sales, the work isn’t completed at the point of deal closure. If you close a sale you will then need to work towards a contractual agreement that defines payment arrangements and supply. There may be additional work required for onboarding and ongoing customer support. If a sale is not achieved at this point, then be professional and friendly and thank your prospect for their time and interest. Say that you will happily stay in touch in case the situation changes. In many cases, clients simply don’t want what you have to sell at the time but things may change again in the future.

7. Evaluate and improve

The best B2B sales teams are constantly assessing their performance and looking at ways to improve. The key here is to interrogate the data at your disposal and use it to drive decision-making. The types of metrics you should track include sales productivity per rep, average lead time response and the conversion rate of marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads. Create a monthly dashboard which presents these Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your business and check for trends over time. Set comparative thresholds and use a RAG (red amber green) system to flag up high performance and areas which need focus and remediation. This type of reporting will enable you to have more productive conversations at your regular sales meetings and to focus your efforts where they are most needed.

8. Work closely with marketing

This is an extra point which the best B2B salespeople invariably do. The marketing team in your business has a vital function when it comes to your sales success. Marketing campaigns will raise awareness and create leads. All too often, marketing and sales functions fail to work closely together and don’t understand what the other team is doing. If you can build a close working relationship with your marketing colleagues, you will enjoy far better results. Not only will you have a heads-up on forthcoming marketing activity, but you can create joint metrics which evidence the success of your co-work. This will encourage further investment in your functions and in the tools which help both teams to secure success.

9. Play the long-game

Patience is an asset in B2B sales, so view your prospects as a long-game with high stakes. Regularly check and update your pipeline so that you have business being progressed at all stages. Don’t push prospects when they aren’t ready, but just be present and remind them of your offer. Invest in relationships for the longer-term too and go the extra mile where possible. This will all pay off in the form of sales and repeat business.

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