The B2B market generates more revenue each year than the B2C market. This is largely because businesses have needs for more individualised, industrial products from machinery to software, that individual consumers have no need for.
However nothing ever stays the same, and as the years go on the wants and behaviours of B2B buyers change, so the way we accomplish sales needs to change with them. On average, 74% of buyer research is completed before they initially contact the business. B2B sales is becoming less about convincing someone they need your product, and more about proving a reliable brand and a return on investment. So what do your sales team need to do in order to accomplish this?
Tailor the product
One of the first questions you’ll be asked on a sales call is simply “why do I need this?” and you had better have an answer ready! 61% of prospects want information relevant to their company and industry on the first phone call, so take time to prepare some facts before dialling that number. Learn about specific industries and what problems they’re currently facing, enabling you to tailor your product as a solution to these specific problems.
Nothing makes you lose credibility like asking a question you should know the answer to (or would take you less than a minute to find out!). When it comes to B2B sales, you need to stop pitching and start teaching your prospect. Spend time educating them about why your product will work in solving their problem. But of course to teach, you need to have knowledge. Make sure you’ve learnt everything inside-out and back-to-front.
There are plenty of tools available to you for gathering the appropriate information – think outside the box! Look at your prospect’s LinkedIn profile to see what content and groups they’re engaging with, and use a website analytics software to see if they’ve visited your website, and if so, what did they look at and how long for? (Lead Forensics can definitely help you with that one!)
By fully tailoring not only the sales call, but the features of the product to the prospect and their needs, you’re setting yourself up for a win when it comes to earning trust, booking your next appointment and ultimately closing that sale.
Stop selling, start listening
It’s been found that the most successful sales phone calls and business interactions have boiled down to the sales person only spending 30% of the time talking and 70% of it wholly listening to the prospect in question. Carl Richards (New York Times) describes this perfectly in a situation where he attended a dinner party with his colleague, who conversed with a businessman all evening but barely spoke beyond asking the occasional question. At the end of the evening, the businessman wanted to connect with him again because he found him “so insightful!” Richards was at a loss – his colleague had barely said a word! But being engaging isn’t about putting forward compelling points – it’s about bringing those points out from others. It’s true – we all love to talk about ourselves and what we do (especially on a sales call), so use that to your advantage – but don’t be the speaker, be the provoker and then the listener. Ask open ended questions and listen intently to the answers – take notes if you want to!
Not only does this establish a great relationship and help the prospect remember you from the crowd, it also helps you in the act of nurturing the prospect. 95% of buyers end up choosing a solution provider that gave them relevant content throughout the buying process. By simply listening to your prospect, you’ll find out easily what they are looking for, and what content will count as “relevant” in their minds, helping you follow up and keep them intrigued about your product. You may even find out some facts about them as a person and use these to connect further with them – creating that all important “personal” bond as well as the expected ”business” relationship.
Qualify your leads
Though the final close is ultimately the goal, you’ll need more information than a basic interest to get there. As well as feeding information to the prospect, you’ll need to gather some so you can understand where to go next with your negotiation. Qualifying your leads allows you to gather the information you need to continue that crucial personalisation, ensuring your product always relates to the needs and requirements of the prospect.
Goals – What do they need to achieve? Try and gather these in a way they can be measured quantitively.
Plans – What do they currently have planned to achieve that goal?
Challenges – What’s stopping them at the moment?
Timing – When do these goals need to be achieved by?
Budget – What are their plans/capabilities for funding this solution?
Authority – Who has the influence over this decision when it comes to finalising a purchase?
Need – What is their key need – how can you solve it?
Timeline – Do they have a time frame in mind?
Almost half of lost deals failed due to miscommunications around budget, so get information nailed down as soon as you can to avoid slipping up further along the line. Only one in four prospects want to discuss qualifying areas such as these on their first call, so use that listening skill to ensure timing is right before asking too much too soon.
Change how you close a deal
Closing a deal is the best feeling! However, if you’ve worked with your prospect in the most successful manner, closing a deal should feel more like an agreement. You agree your product is their best choice, and you are certain it will work for them. You’ve conducted extensive research into their industry, and have worked alongside them to tackle a problem, by providing and proving the solution. If you don’t feel this way when you’ve closed a sale – why not? As a salesperson, you’ll perform better if you’re this invested in each and every prospect.
This all feeds into a very important topic – referrals. 84% of buyers start their buying journey with a referral, and nine out of ten buying decisions are made with peer recommendations. You are far more likely to get those referrals if you are actively involved with your prospects on a level by which you truly care about solving their problem. Referrals are great – 92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know – so when they come in, they’re like an easy sale! But you have to put the work in to earn them in the first place.
If you don’t feel that personally connected to your prospects and their problems, then it may just be your style and it works for you, but from a business perspective it’s a bad idea to sell to people just because you need the numbers to reach your target. If they feel that you deceived them with the capabilities of your product, or they can’t afford what you have sold to them, then you’ll instantly lose credibility and affect how people perceive your brand. You’ll only be shooting yourself in the foot, because if the perception of your brand changes, you’ll have to work harder next time to earn credibility and close the sale. Simply put – having passion for every prospect and their problems makes your job easier!
So there you have it – don’t increase the price, increase the packaging! It’s not about how much you’re selling it for, its how you put it across to your prospect. Six in ten salespeople say that when they know what system works for them, they don’t change it. This is understandable, however you cannot improve something unless you adapt and evolve. Natural selection dictates that your sales system will eventually become extinct, making way for stronger systems that have evolved to the behaviour of the buyer. Accept the change and start something new, we promise you’ll see the results you want!