B2B sales entail selling products and services to other businesses, rather than directly to customers. Compared to B2C, sales in B2B marketplaces typically have higher order value, longer sales cycles, and complex negotiation laps, not to mention the multiple stakeholders that are involved in sealing the deal.
This means there are multiple rounds of approvals needed to give the final nod to the seller. Sales are generally 90% about finding the right prospects and 10% about the actual sales presentation. Since the buyers and decision-makers have established credentials, it is important to present the right content to address their pain points.
B2B sales process isn’t a linear progression anymore but a cyclical series of steps designed to maintain long-term association with the client.
If you want to improve your B2B sales process, start by asking yourself these essential questions.
1. Do I know the Exact Selling Value Proposition of the Competitor?
In the early stages of the sales process, the sales executive must apprise himself/herself about the product in detail. He also needs to research in-depth about the market he is going to sell in and understand the ecosystem of the competitors’ prices and products. This stage helps the sales executive present a much more credible picture to the clients.
This stage also helps to build empathy towards the client’s needs and understand what exactly should be the focal point of the pitch. It is crucial to know about the unique selling point (USP) of a product or service.
Clients depend to a large extent on product information on the sales executive. If the sales executive fails to give any relevant information, the competitors might take advantage of the situation and be eager to seal the deal.
2. How Do I Connect My Product/Service Offerings to Clients Via Meaningful Information?
Understanding the pain point of the target group is the key to effective selling. This question effectively manages to do so. The clarity with which you convey the value-added to the client is a key determinant in getting your deal closed effectively..
You must look for avenues where you can help your client figure out how the product or the service is filling the white spaces in their operations. When you provide meaningful information, the client is most likely to see your offerings on a superior pedestal vis-a-vis your competitors.
3. How Can I Convert a Prospect into a Buyer by Analyzing Key Consumer Data?
Prospecting is the process of identifying the potential buyers who need the product and services of your company, have the eagerness and ability to pay for it, and have the authority to decide the process. It is essential to differentiate the prospects from the suspects.
Suspects are those clients who do not have an immediate need for your product and services but have the potential of turning into prospects soon. The sales executive must find three kinds of customers.
· Lead Clients
· Prospect Clients
· Qualified Clients
Buying power, financial transaction ability, flexibility on credit terms are important areas of considerations that separate the lead clients from the rest. Hence the process of identifying lead clients by gathering customer data and checking relevant sales parameters for them to qualify as prospects is also referred to as prospecting.
The sales executive must make an effort to take the prospect higher in the decision-making process. This means that the current stage of the decision-making of the client must be understood and it must be elevated to make a sale. This means that it is essential to understand the Customer Purchase Funnel.
Prospecting involves a series of steps namely the following.
Identify and define the attributes and prospects.
Searching potential sources of primary and secondary prospects.
Qualify the prospects from the suspects based on the payoffs. The payoff is defined as the expected value of the probability of the prospect buying multiplied by the sales value.
Some trusted methods of sales prospecting include Cold canvassing, Direct mail, Prospect Pool, Telemarketing, Customer sales lead the club, Centre of influence. Thus the key question to be asked at this stage is:-
4. Do I Understand The Client’s Product/Service Adoption Rate and Product Life Cycle?
Before approaching the sales pitch, the sales executive must make an effort to collect customer data and combine them with the product attributes. This would give an idea about the extent of Customer need satisfaction.
Besides this will help the sales executive be better equipped with the sales presentation. The sales executive must contact the customer and use the generalized need that he intends to meet to pitch his product or service. This would help in getting positive attention to his offering, initially.
The perceived need is ascertained by two main characteristics.
Adoption rate by the client or customer.
Stage of the product life cycle,
For example, if the client is an innovator himself, he will be on the lookout for investing in a more technologically superior and more novel offering. The product attribute will matter more.
However, if the product sold is a commodity, more than the product features, the price points, discounts, credit period, etc will matter more. Hence, the sales executive needs to understand the nuances very well. Thus the key question to be asked at this stage is:-
5. What is the Ideal Approach to Engage the Client with Our Value Proposition?
When the prospects are properly classified and the sales strategies are ascertained, this is a stage where the sales executive comes in contact with the potential customer.
This is the stage where crucial efforts are made to convince the client and influence them to decide in your favor. The sales executive must fix an appointment with the client at their desired location and time suitable for the presentation.
Cold calling may be effective to get a brief interaction with the client to materialize. In a. cold call, the sales executive must try to impress the client with his sales talk and manners. It is essential to take the “benefit approach” which means focusing on the key aspects of customer benefits that your product or service is likely to bring. There are other ways namely.
Referral Approach – Works when the prospect values the status and opinion of the referee.
Introductory Approach– Talking about the company and the product to generate interest and engage the customers.
It is also essential to ask the right questions to get a hang of the overall response of the audience to your product and service. Probing also entails listening to your client’s response intently and picking the right cues to move forward. Thus the key question to be asked at this stage is:-
6. Is the Value Addition Being Properly Communicated to the Client in the Sales Presentation?
Sales pitch or sales presentation should be two-way communication between the salesperson and the clients. While it’s important to highlight the product attributes and its superiority vis-à-vis the competitors, the salespersons must not lose track.
This essentially means the salesperson always reminds the audience of the value addition and the needs met via the products and services.
There are various approaches to the sales presentation, namely.
Attracting Customer Interest – It involves placing the product in such a way so that it matches the customer’s mind. This will help the salesperson garner the requisite attention.
Creating Interest – Must take the curiosity approach to engage the audience.
7. Am I Giving Enough Scope for Query Resolution to Make My Product Attributes Clear?
Your client will be more interested if they are made to participate in the conversation. If the sales pitch is a monologue then potential areas of dialogs are lost. Hence it is key that you let your audience opine and ask the right questions. Besides this is an excellent way to understand the perception about your offering and a window to get preliminary feedback. Opening the floor for a question also gives you the leverage to get the subsequent stage for negotiation ready.
8. What Is the Highest Expectation of the Client?
Understanding this is the key to a successful negotiation ahead. In case the terms and conditions do not match in the later stages this point proves to be the best stage to gauge the scale of the bargain.
It’s always a good idea to establish a middle ground to strike a balance between your expectation with that of the clients’
9. Am I Making the Right Negotiations Keeping in Mind the Profitability?
Often being able to handle objections posed by clients is a way to bargain the deal. Objections halt the deal for some time and it arises either due to the client’s unclear understanding of the product and service or isn’t ready to agree to the terms of purchase. The following steps help in dealing with objections effectively.
Start with your highest expectations from the deal with the client
Avoid conceding first
Be sure your client understands the benefits you are providing
Apply the concept of Indirect Denial – Apprise the client of the communication gaps and misinformation about the deal
Admit mistakes (if there are any) and make efforts to correct them, willingly.
Thus the key question to be asked at this stage is:-
10. Have Multiple Follow-ups Been Scheduled for Query Resolution and Product Feedback?
Closing the sale is the primary goal in any selling process that comes into the picture once the objections have been handled effectively. This is the stage where the terms of payment and other documentation must be clearly explained to the client. Besides the delivery terms and the hidden costs should be mentioned to avoid last-minute hassles.
Next, the objective of follow-up action is manifold. This helps the salesperson to establish a rapport with the client and the possibility of securing a long-term relationship increases. This also helps to get competitive moves, generate additional leads from satisfied clients, and build a strong referral network.
This is an excellent exercise to maintain goodwill and take corrective actions for the promises made during the presentation and any discrepancy arising out of the non-performance of the product or service.