Mastering any industry is about nailing the basics! That being said, we're answering the question, 'What is B2B sales all about?', so you can get on track to sales domination.
Whether your idea of success is simply increasing sales or dominating your industry, there are a few central pillars of B2B sales success that every business owner needs to stay on top of.
And, not only are we sharing what those central pillars are, but we're also sharing practical steps you can take to build up each one in your company.
Regardless of if you are completely new to B2B sales or are a seasoned veteran, start here to achieve B2B sales success!
What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C Sales?
Are you a business-to-consumer sales pro making the switch to business-to-business selling? If so, while there are many differences between the two, a few of the most prominent ones include:
- The B2B sales cycle/process tends to be longer than in B2C
- Relationships with individual consumers lasts longer in B2B than in B2C
- Sticking to a firm price point is significantly more common in B2B than in B2C
In addition to understanding the central pillars of success, knowing these differences will help you be more successful in B2B if you're making the switch!
1. B2B Sales Is About Taking Prospects On a Buying Journey
Don't think for a second that B2B sales is about throwing prospects into the sales cycle, getting them to sign a deal, and then never seeing them again.
Rather, business-to-business sales run much deeper than that!
Instead of a one-and-done sort of deal, your B2B sales cycle should take the prospects on a buying journey. Along that journey, prospects find solutions to their pain points, get their emotional needs met, and form strong bonds with you and your sales reps.
From now on, instead of thinking of your sales funnel as a series of technical steps and boxes to check, think of it as a matter of taking your prospects through a journey.
On that journey, you're not just helping them solve a problem, but you're helping them bring their own visions to life!
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
Perhaps the biggest difference between B2C and B2B selling is that in B2B, building long-term relationships with prospects is of the utmost importance.
Because, unlike in B2C, after you make a deal with a customer, you're more likely than not going to be working with them on a daily basis.
It's not just a matter of selling them something and then walking away! Instead, it's about fostering a robust, long-term relationship with multiple touchpoints of communication on both sides.
Now you might be thinking... What are the best tactics to foster long-term business relationships with B2B buyers?
The truth is that business relationships aren't as technical or strategic as you might think. In fact, the relationships you have with your B2B customers are very similar to those that you have with your day-to-day friends!
How does that work?
Believe it or not, but your customers want to have relationships with real, genuine people who they trust and find likeable! Therefore, if you come into the relationship acting robotic, it will hinder the connection you have with your prospect.
Therefore, your goal is to be as much of yourself as possible! Be professional, but show off your genuine self to foster the best relationship.
Turn Your Potential Customer’s Journey Into a Story
Like we mentioned above, you are supposed to take your target customers on a journey. And, the way you do that is by turning their buying process into a story.
Sales storytelling is extremely important in B2B sales! It's about turning the prospect's situation into a grander story of them overcoming their demons to accomplish their goals..
From now on, every sales encounter should play into the customer’s story!
The best part of storytelling is that so few sales and marketing teams ever take advantage of it. Therefore, if you do, you stand a much higher chance of outdoing your competitors!
2. Knowing Exactly Who Your Target Customers Are
Straight-up: It doesn't matter that you have a killer product or service if you don't know who to sell it to!
Think about it... You can be the best product or service provider in your industry, but you'll never get anywhere if you don't have a target group of people who you believe will buy it.
In addition to giving you an audience to market your product or service to, knowing who your target customers are is beneficial for two other primary reasons, including:
- Helping you develop a brand message
- Getting qualified leads into your sales pipeline
When you know who your target buyers are, you gain key pieces of information that are crucial for developing a brand message. The brand message is perhaps the most important piece of your sales strategy (more on that later!).
Additionally, knowing who your target customers are makes lead generation flow much smoother. Generating and qualifying leads is one of the most, if not the most taxing aspects of sales for many sales reps. But when you know who your ideal customer is, lead generation is much simpler.
Remember, you can have the best business model, marketing strategy, and quite frankly be the best business in the world, but it doesn't matter if you don't know who to sell to!
Develop an Ideal Prospect Profile
Get to know who your ideal prospect is by developing an ideal prospect profile (IPP). An IPP describes the traits of your ideal B2B buyer. They are the kind of company that is most likely to buy your product or service.
The IPP doesn't describe the traits of an individual person, but rather the B2B company as if it were a person. The IPP should include traits such as:
- The size of the company (whether or not they can afford your product or service)
- The company's values (they will ideally align with your company's values)
- Whether or not the company has pain points you know your deliverable can help solve
These are just a few of the traits you should consider. The more specific you are with the IPP, the better!
Create an Ideal Buyer Persona for the Decision-Makers
After putting together your IPP, create an ideal buyer persona (IBP) for the top stakeholders at the ideal companies.
By stakeholders, we mean the people who have the authority to make a final purchasing decision at the end of the sales cycle.
The IBP describes the demographics and psychographics of the people doing the decision-making. Because these are the people who make the buying decisions, you want to make sure that you're appealing to their specific persona.
Get together with your sales and marketing teams to draw up a literal caricature of the ideal buyer!
3. Honing In On Your Unique Value Proposition
Why would one of your target customers pick you over your competition?
What makes your deliverable so special that they would choose you over their other options?
Hopefully, your answer is your unique value proposition (UVP)!
Also known as the unique selling point, the UVP is the thing that sets your deliverable apart from that of your competition. Whether it's having the best quality products or the finest customer service, it's what makes you different from your competition.
Not only does it make you stand out from competitors, but it appeals specifically to your target customers.
For example, if your target customers value seamless and personal customer service, then your UVP should ideally be just that!
Whatever it is, don't shy away from what makes your company unique. If you do, you'll ultimately blend in with the competition, and your ideal customers will be less likely to opt for your solution.
Develop a Brand Message & Throwing It Everywhere!
As we mentioned above, a brand message is the final product of the B2B sales strategy! Once you've nailed your target market and committed to your UVP, you've got the two most important pieces to create a brand message.
Think of the brand message like the story of your company. It describes who you are and what you stand for. More specifically, it describes your identity.
Just like you create stories out of your customer's journey, you also need to create the story for your company!
Having that story helps appeal to your target customer's emotions. And, as you already know, customers make buying choices based on emotions more than logic!
Once you've developed a brand message, your job is to interject it at every point in the sales process and in every piece of marketing. Whatever your message is, everything you put out there should scream it.
Having that captivating identity will solidify your place in the market with your ideal customers.
4. Having a Solid Sales Team Equipped With the Right Sales Tools
Unless you plan on running your business alone, you need to have awesome sales team members.
By awesome, we mean people who are:
- Proactive; and
And, those are just a few of the most important traits of awesome sales reps!
What's the point of having a team in the first place?
Aside from the obvious being able to accomplish more in less time, having solid sales professionals brings in outside opinions and expertise that you don't have yourself.
Topnotch sales pros aren’t just there to help close more deals in less time, but improve and refine every aspect of the sales process.
Here's the thing though: You might have reliable, proactive, and knowledgeable people on your team, but that doesn't necessarily mean you’re going to get 100% of their efforts and expertise all the time.
To put it simply... There is no such thing as something for nothing! If you want to get the most out of your sales team, you first need to give them the tools they need to thrive.
Bottom line: In order to get the most from your team, you first need to give!
Invest In Sales Enablement
When it comes to giving your B2B salespeople the most so that they can give their most in return, a good place to start is sales enablement.
Sales enablement is the process of providing sales reps the right information and tools they need to be the most effective salespeople.
Whether it be an ideal CRM that actually helps them organize data or new tools to develop sales models, you need to give your team what they need to put their skills to use!
Additionally, investing in sales enablement will lead to an overall smoother and more insightful sales organization.
Foster a Growth Mindset Culture
It's one thing for you to be the CEO of your company and be focused on success, but it's a whole other thing when your entire team is on board with it too. The more people focused on success, the better!
Your job as CEO is to foster a company culture emphasizing both personal and business success. The best culture for doing so is a growth mindset culture.
A growth mindset culture is one in which everyone is on board with learning and believes that learning will help them become more effective B2B salespeople (and people in general!).
As the CEO, the way you can foster a growth mindset culture is by:
- Adopting and living out a growth mindset yourself
- Providing your team opportunities to learn and grow
Learning is central to continuous sales success. So when your entire time is not only committed to but believes in the power of learning, the possibilities are endless.
Give Salespeople the Training They Need & Deserve
Here's the thing about providing learning opportunities to your sales team: Most members of your team probably already have sufficient knowledge to be successful in sales.
Therefore, simply providing them with more knowledge will do little to nothing to improve sales!
However, while they already have the knowledge they need, what they might not know is how to put that knowledge to use. Moreover, your team might be very well educated, but not empowered because they don't know how to apply their knowledge and skills!
The best way to bridge the gap between education and empowerment is sales training. And, no... Not the basic pre-recorded, teaching the same-old skills taught in most webinars.
Instead, we're talking about training that teaches high-potential sales pros to problem solve and apply their existing knowledge to real-life sales scenarios.
Sales is at the heart of B2B business success. So if you don't have a fly empowered sales team, it's challenging for any B2B company to reach its full potential.
5. Closing Deals Comes Down to Simplicity
Straight-up: If you can’t tell me what your business does, what your sales strategy is, and which sales techniques you’re using in 30 seconds or less each, then odds are you aren’t thinking simply enough.
Sales success knows nothing of complexity! Complex sales = bad sales, 100% of the time.
What makes complexity so bad?
Complexity is bad for a couple key reasons, including:
- It creates a lengthy sales process that prospects despise
- It creates countless sales-related problems
When it comes to B2B sales, the more simple you keep everything, the more successful you will be in the end.
The B2B Sales Process Must Be Simple & Straightforward
One of the worst places to have complexity is in your B2B sales process. The process includes all of the steps you take to get your customers to make a purchasing decision. From the initial outreach to the final signature, it's all in the sales process.
Here's the thing though: If you make your sales process extremely complex, your customers are going to despise it because it will become exceedingly long. The more time you take to cut to the chase, the more time you use of theirs.
That being said, in business-to-business sales, you usually have longer sales cycles than in business-to-consumer. However, that isn’t to say that your cycle should be unnecessarily long.
How long is too long?
You know that your sales process/cycle is too long when you keep rambling on after:
- You've established trust between you and the prospect
- You have all the information you need to help fulfill the prospect's emotional and tactical needs
- Your prospect has had all of their questions answered
If you've checked all these boxes yet still keep rambling on, you're simply wasting time. And, nobody likes having their time wasted.
That being said, keep your process as simple and straightforward as possible so that it is as short as possible. There is no need to make you or your prospect's jump through hoops to get to the end!
Complexity Breeds Problems
B2B sales is challenging enough as it is. But, if you create a complex sales strategy, sales process, content marketing plan, or quite frankly any other complex sales tool, you're unknowingly creating countless other breeding grounds for problems to arise from.
How does that work?
Think of it like this: When you create a complex marketing plan for example, there are many boxes that need to be checked and tasks that need to be done. The more boxes and tasks to do, the more potential for problems there are!
It's like baking a 25 step cake versus a 5 step cake... You're less likely to mess up or have a problem with the 5 step one because it's simply simpler to make. At the end of the day, the simpler one will taste better, even though the 25 step one sounds impressive!
Don't ever be fooled or impressed by complexity, because it never helps anything.
Whatever sales-related thing you're working on, keep it simple!
Final Thoughts on What It Takes to Be Successful In B2B Sales
Regardless of where you are on your B2B sales journey, it’s never a bad time to go back and review the basics. More specifically, the basics of what it takes to be successful in B2B sales!
If you can nail these central pillars of success, then odds are you will be on your way to achieving sales success in your own company… whatever that may mean to you!
The only thing that can stand in your way is, well, you! So, will you step up to the plate, and do what it takes to be successful?