B2B Sales. What Works And What Doesn’t?
For some, B2B sales offers the same thrill that you might feel after winning a race.
For others, B2B sales is equivalent to getting stuck in a traffic jam post-work in mid-summer.
It’s no secret that selling to B2B customers is difficult, and the process wrought with long decision-making cycles and many stakeholders. That’s why our digital marketing agency is here to help you create strategies to overcome today’s sales challenges in this post.
But what are B2B sales?
B2B (or business-to-business) sales is the process of selling a product or service to another business. This could be app development, IT support or office supplies – as long as it’s selling from one business to another, it comes under the B2B sales umbrella.
Emergence of the new B2B buyer.
According to Google’s B2B Industry Head, many younger professionals in the 18-35 age group are now in positions that give them decision-making powers in the buying process. As a generation prone to using digital technology, they’re now revolutionising the way companies purchase products and services.
Today’s B2B customers have a wealth of information available to them online, and now prefer to conduct research themselves, which includes through search engines, websites, third-party reviews, social media and blogs – this means your business needs to be available and holding positive reviews on these platforms.
According to a Forrester report, 59 percent of buyers prefer to do online research over talking to a sales representative, because sales reps tend to push their agenda instead of solving a problem. It then makes sense that 57 percent of buyers admit that they’d purchase from a salesperson who doesn’t “try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up”.
Today’s buyers also take longer to make purchase decisions. With all that information, they are now more aware and cautious about who they buy from.
But these changes in sales challenges doesn’t mean selling to B2B customers is hopeless. We just need to evolve accordingly.
Help Customers Use Your Product.
Let’s use an example: Ahrefs.
A while ago, Ahrefs (a SaaS product for understanding SEO) launched a new version of their site audit feature. While helpful, there was a bit of a learning curve involved which might have made it a little confusing for Ahrefs users who weren’t too big on the technical side of things.
So this is what Ahrefs did:
Image Source: Ahrefs
Instead of just creating the new site audit tool and washing their hands of it, Ahrefs CEO came up with an entire guide on how to use the new tool. From a B2B point of view, this means that the more customers love a product, the more they’ll come back to it and keep renewing their subscription (and even upgrade their plans) with you.
Match It With Content Marketing.
As each sale becomes more and more time-consuming for your sales team, another way to increase sales is through content marketing.
As B2B customers conduct more research before reaching out to a winning vendor, they look at which ones provide the best content, is a thought leader in their field, has enough industry knowledge, and makes it easy to consume information.
Image Source: Demandbase
With content marketing, you stay in control over creating content that buyers are searching for.
Align Your Sales And Marketing Teams’ Goals.
There’s always a bit of a rough patch between sales and marketing teams. This often happens because:
- What they define as a qualified lead
- Lack of a unified content library, so sales teams can’t find assets to forward to prospects
Aligning sales and marketing teams not only saves you revenue, but increases brand awareness. Use content to align their goals. Hosting regular meetings, creating a content library, and allowing salespeople to contribute their ideas to content development can go a long way in improving the two teams’ relationship.
But what should you not do in B2B sales?
- Not asking the hard questions – B2B salespersons can sometimes have tunnel vision in their discovery and demo calls, with the sole aim of finding out whether someone is interested in their product. Listen carefully and help your customers find solutions to their problems.
- Limiting sales to emails and phone calls – We don’t mean you drive down to your customer’s house and pitch to them. While there is merit in email marketing, it doesn’t make sense to call your leads when they’ve come to you through a webinar. Giving them an integrated customer experience can keep them interested, from live chat agents to social media pages.
- Keeping it one-to-one – B2B sales cycles are more complex and longer because, on average, there are four or more people involved in the purchase decision. It’s important for buyers to include peers and higher-ups in the trial phase. As a salesperson, be quick to loop in key decision-makers from your end, and people who can answer the technical questions.
A study by Implisit showed that on average, 13 percent of leads convert to opportunities and the average conversion time is 84 days. The most important metric (leads to deal) shows that 3.6 percent of employee + customer referrals convert to deals, higher than any other channel, followed by social media and the company website, all of which have the fastest progression from lead to deal. Lead lists, events, and email campaigns exhibit the worst performance at a 0.1 percent lead to deal conversion rate. Webinars are at a 2.5 percent opportunity to deal conversion rate.
B2B sales have changed.
We need to be proactive and stay one step ahead.
Being aware of the pitfalls can help you improve the way you sell. Digital Odyssey can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas on how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys, and digital marketing campaigns.
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