For business-to-business (B2B) companies, sales are of great importance. It helps achieve business growth and success. However, B2B sales is not a walk in the park.
Given that B2B companies target other businesses or organizations instead of individual consumers, sales needs are often more complex. You have to convince professional buyers, who are well-trained to find the best deal possible for their company, to choose your product or service. Additionally, you may also need to sell to a team of decision-makers. That means you have to convince all of them that your offer is the best.
Generally, there are two types of B2B sales. The first one is the selling of products to meet the needs of a business. The second type is the selling of certain components necessary for manufacturing products. However, it is not only for physical products. Services, such as computer consulting or tax accounting, can also fall under this category.
B2B sales involve a process that is somehow similar to the B2C sales cycle. The difference lies in the type of audience. Here is a simple guide on the sales cycle:
Step 1: Do your research. No matter what your goals may be, it is crucial to conduct research. Understand your market and competitors. Figure out what type of companies will best benefit from your product or service.
Step 2: Look for the right clients. Using the information you get from your research, you will have to find potential customers. For B2B, that means people or teams with authority to buy on behalf of their organizations. These are called decision-makers.
Step 3: Reach out. Now that you know your target audience, the next step is to conduct initial outreach. There are different ways to do that. One of them is outbound marketing, which includes the use of social media channels. Another way is through inbound marketing, where you create and release valuable and compelling content to attract prospects.
Step 4: Present a sales pitch. Sales representatives need to tell potential clients why and how the product or service will help solve their problems. Pitching to leads also allows the sales team to understand the client and their needs better.
Step 5: Follow up on the lead. After presenting a pitch, the next move is to write down the things discussed with the decision-makers. Depending on the client, it can be in the form of a business proposal or a statement of work.
Step 6: Close the sale. The last step is the closing of the sales cycle. That means the client has decided to buy your product or avail of your services. Put the agreement in writing.
B2B Sales Challenges
As stated earlier, sales is not an easy task to accomplish. You have to fill pipelines, exceed metrics, and beat quotas. Aside from these internal goals, you also have to make sure you stay ahead of your competition.
Since the target audience of B2B companies are other organizations, sales can be very challenging. Here are five major B2B sales challenges you should overcome:
- Acquiring Sales Accepted Leads (SALs)
SALs are invaluable. They help increase client response and conversion rates. To put it simply, SALs refer to leads that your marketing team has already reviewed and evaluated.
After acquiring leads, the marketing team will have to verify the quality. Then, they will pass them to the sales team as SALs. In comparison, SALs are more likely to generate sales than traditional leads.
When it comes to sales, quality is more important than quantity. However, it is hard to generate high-quality leads. Many marketers see it as one of the most complicated challenges they face.
- Retaining Customers
Many sales teams also struggle to retain customers. When that happens, you have to double your efforts to attract new clients. That means you need to be spending more time, resources, and energy to constantly look for new leads and turn them into buying clients.
It is essential to nurture existing customers. Providing them with a good customer experience can promote brand loyalty.
- Data Overload
Data analytics is on the rise. It now plays a considerable role in B2B sales. Technological advancements make it easier to get your hands on data. But over saturation can make it harder to distinguish qualified leads.
Many sales representatives and teams tend to get overwhelmed by data overload. When that happens, it becomes difficult to analyze the correct information and use them to the company’s advantage.
Sales teams need to overcome this challenge to figure out how and where to effectively reach out to potential clients. An excellent way to start is to remember that leads are not just data. They are representations of potential clients that may evolve.
To overcome this problem, you can use software or systems to help with your sales operations. An example of this is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Additionally, you should also make sure that you regularly refresh your data to stay updated.
- Long Sales Cycle
Typically, the sales cycle for B2Bs is longer than that of B2Cs. However, there is no definite timeline that applies to all sales processes. The cycle may differ depending on the client.
Sales teams need to figure out how long their average sales cycle is. Long cycles often mean large sales opportunities. However, they require more time and effort. At the same time, the team needs to be consistent in the messages it puts out.
The number of decision-makers involved can also extend the cycle. If your client has multiple decision-makers, you will have to convince each one that your product and service is the best option.
- Reaching Decision-Makers
The fifth most common challenge that sales teams and representatives face is reaching decision-makers. Calling a potential client to present a sales pitch does not mean that you are talking to someone authorized to purchase on behalf of their company.
Sales representatives need to identify gatekeepers. These can be receptionists or assistants. There is also a need to know the influencers that could help convince potential clients. Lastly, it is important to figure out who makes decisions in a prospective client.
After attracting high-quality leads, your next hurdle is a bit more difficult. Gatekeepers may deny a salesperson access to the appropriate decision-makers. When that happens, the lead cannot turn into sales.
Sales representatives must establish a good relationship with these gatekeepers. They have to make sure the gatekeepers understand the real objective that they have in reaching out.
Another way to engage the decision-makers is to create useful and relevant content targeted towards their organizations.
Information has become more accessible with the help of technology. Because of this, B2B customers have become more sophisticated and informed. B2B companies must step up their sales strategies.
Additionally, there are also B2B sales challenges that sales teams may face. To address these, you need to have expertise in your target audience’s sales process and knowledge.
For many, it helps to work with an outsourced sales service provider. This way, you have the assurance that professional and well-trained personnel handle your sales cycles. If you want to know more about sales outsourcing, contact us at Sales Focus, Inc.