Selling to other businesses is different than providing products and services directly to consumers. Major differences include the number of decision-makers involved, sales cycle duration, the focus of the relationship, volume of transactions and cost of acquiring new customers. Recognizing these and other distinctions and using appropriate strategies to reach prospects and retain them as customers is key to success with a business-to-business model. Here are seven strategies that can help increase B2B sales.
1. Align Teams
Reaching prospects and closing deals involve many moving parts. Setting up key teams so that they are working towards a common goal will boost results. It is not just marketing and sales that need to be in alignment, but also other operational areas such as customer service and finance. Collaboration, sharing and having a pre-determined plan for all stages of the customer journey is important. Using a revenue operations approach B2B organizations can efficiently automate and connect activity to maximize productivity and growth.
2. Define a Customer Profile
Analyze the characteristics of existing customers who generate the largest amount of revenue and are most satisfied. Gather data from across the organization, including customer relationship management, social media and website metrics. Use this information to determine what industries and types of businesses you should be targeting. This precision will cut out time wasted on leads that are unlikely to convert to customers.
3. Know Your Audience
Take time to perform market research so that you understand prospects’ needs, struggles and operating processes. Subscribe to their marketing material to understand how they might use your product. This insight makes it easier to provide an offering that best serves their company. Going after leads that offer the best chances of conversion is much more effective than random cold calls. Keep up on trends in the industry so you can develop content and solutions that provide value.
4. Personalize the Pitch
Use information from your market research efforts to customize sales scripts and personalize emails. Choose information that will resonate with their situation. Using multiple channels for engagement will allow you to cater to individual communication preferences. Too much personalization can be invasive. Be vigilant about balancing relevant, personalized outreaches without becoming intrusive.
5. Use Social Media
A strong online presence helps develop leads. Provide prospects with valuable and accurate information about the solutions you offer via Twitter, LinkedIn and other social channels. Everyone your company interacts with on social media may not become a customer, but it is an easy opportunity for both sides to assess the potential for a good fit. Relevant content and quick responses to queries can be the beginning of an engaging and nurturing long-term relationship.
6. Recognize the Complexity of Decision Making
With B2B sales, multiple people within the target organization may have to approve major purchases. Understand exactly who you must interact with at the company and target each person in the chain with appropriate engagements. In some instances, the initial contact may be a purchasing agent who does not have ultimate decision authority. Resist the temptation to skip past this initial person because it could have negative repercussions. However, aim to spend most of your time developing relationships with actual decision-makers.
7. Plan for the Sales Cycle Timeline
The buyer's journey for B2B sales is much longer than B2C. Business purchasing decisions are related to long-term plans and needs, as opposed to wants and desires for consumers. Practice patience. Do not push too aggressively. Focus on building trust and developing an enduring relationship. Create a flexible strategy to deal with sales cycle fluctuations. Several deals may close all at once, and then there is no activity for some months because the focus has been on those transactions and not new prospects.
Building a long-term relationship based on trust and mutual value remains a core focus for B2B sales, but to work well, the approach must evolve and adapt as the business environment changes. Within today’s digital and data-intensive landscape, these essential strategies can help businesses selling to other companies successfully attract new customers and generate higher revenue.
Related: Can Your Business Handle Change?