When we discussed the best B2B sales strategy for 2016 and beyond, we looked at it from a company viewpoint. But as a sales executive facing today’s savvy buyers, what steps can you take personally to help you close more deals and achieve super healthy figures?
The problem is cold calling just doesn’t work as effectively anymore. Unless you’re willing to waste a lot of time and effort (and have luck on your side), you’re unlikely to hit gold very often. But what is the alternative?
Understand what has changed
Some things will never change. For example, the need to gain trust and form relationships will always be a priority in sales. However, what has changed is how that trust is achieved.
Sales funnel management needs to adapt and change to fit around the new buyer landscape. Transparency is a key word here. Buyers today can source and access masses of information themselves before they even talk to a potential vendor. And as a sales exec you can no longer withhold information and thus bind a prospect to you. This tactic simply doesn’t work anymore.
Today you need to be open about what works and what doesn’t and to help the buyer make the right decision for their needs. This is commonly referred to as ‘consultative selling’ and is essential in a digital world. Importantly, as a sales exec you should be putting all your energy into calling only warm leads.
Today’s B2B buyers are proactive and will research online to find out more information about their issues and how to solve them. In the old days, the sales person’s role was crucial for helping buyers to get hold of the information they might need and want, but this no longer holds true. So what can you do?
- Be visible – Make sure information is available when buyers are searching for it. Have your core content online to help you be found.
- Be helpful – Once you’ve got yourself in front of a prospect, remember that they often suffer from information overload. It’s your job to help them navigate this jungle and make sense of it all. Do this well and you’re likely to be top of their list of preferred vendors.
- Be thorough – Work on all the other key parts of your sales process, such as building your network, nurturing relationships and proactively seeking referrals. All of these things remain important, it’s just the way you go about them that may need adjusting.
Stay ahead of the game and close more sales
The changing nature of the sales environment means sales reps who ignore the tactic of social selling, do so at their own peril. However, when you see how easy it can be to get started, it quickly becomes a no-brainer.
Top 15 hacks for modern sales execs
- Understand today’s B2B buyers and their behaviour. Put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and figure out where and how they go about making their purchasing decisions
- Help prospects navigate information overload by providing useful content they can look over in their own time
- Understand the customer journey and how it is no longer a linear line but can take any shape or form
- Learn to ask questions and then to listen. Be there in the moment, not thinking about what you’re going to say next (this is a skill that can be difficult to learn, particularly in a sales conversation)
- Streamline your research process. Decide what information you need to find out and what will be the best way for you to record it (such as a modern CRM). Focus on an overall view of the leads and clients.
- Leverage technology. Automatic alerts can be a sales rep’s best friend. Set up Google alerts and use lead management alerts (so when leads visit your website you know about it, something Lead Forensics can help you with). Also, look into social media alerts, email alerts and rules, etc. For more ideas check out ‘Top ten productivity hacks for B2B sales teams’ and ‘Top social media monitoring tools’ for more information.
- Become an email ninja. Make use of innovative tools to improve and refine your emailing. Good CRM systems will help you maintain a content library, templates and contact lists. Some systems also include an email tracker, which can let you know when a recipient has opened an email and clicked on a lead.
- Constantly work on improving your company’s main content – i.e. the core pieces of content that relate to your product/service and what it’s like to work with you. You are in the best position to know what information your prospects will want and need in order to make their purchase decisions. Make sure your company is providing it.
- Build and maintain an FAQ (frequently asked questions) list. Make sure it includes all the questions that buyers are regularly asking you. Keep a note of what you are asked moving forward and make sure the answers are made available online.
- Build and maintain an ‘I wish they knew this’ list. This may be similar to the FAQ list but should cover all the questions the buyers don’t ask but should!
- Leverage your website to generate leads. Use electronic offers and forms to help gather lead data in exchange for useful information. For pointers on doing this read ‘How online lead generation helps shorten complex sales cycles’.
- Build strong internal relationships. Work closely with colleagues who engage with your clients – from goods dispatch to customer service and invoicing. Do your bit to make their job a little easier, for example by sharing any helpful insights you may learn about customers.
- Be at their service. The most valuable piece of advice for any sales rep is to have a customer-centric attitude and a service oriented mind. Be helpful, respectful and friendly. Prospects want transparency and to be able to speak to a real person for a straight answer.
- Become an expert in your field. Know what’s happening in your industry and what the latest innovations are when it comes to sales tools, lead generation, technology, etc.
- Invest in improving yourself. Look for courses that not only teach you the usual sales skills but go beyond that and will help you become a more rounded sales personality.
As a sales exec facing today’s B2B buyers, you are up against one key challenge – the very nature of your role has changed. The most successful execs will be those ones who recognise that. They’ll be the ones who are aware of how their role has changed, how they, therefore, need to adjust their own behaviour and what else they can be doing to get those conversions. They’ll be looking beyond the day-to-day and getting proactive, making sure they are maximising their impact and making every conversation count.