This Week’s Big Deal: Pinning Down Your Sales Process
February 10, 2020
When it comes to driving performance from the sales team, a leader’s struggle is not getting results from their most talented and savvy reps. It’s extending those results across the rest of the unit.
This is where the B2B sales process becomes a critical focus. Creating a consistent framework for researching, engaging, and building relationships with prospects will eventually lead to smoother and more autonomous sales operations.
Nailing down the right system is obviously essential. Here’s some guidance based on the latest recommendations and insights from sales experts around the web.
Defining the Modern B2B Sales Process
Let’s start with the basics: We define the B2B sales process as a series of steps taken by an organization and its reps in the name of selling their solutions to other businesses. It begins with prospecting and ends (hopefully) with a closed deal.
“It’s important that your sales teams have repeatable processes in place,” wrote RiseFuel on their blog last week in laying out four ways to dominate B2B sales in 2020. “These processes should include a framework for engaging with cold and warm prospects in different ways, customizable sales call scripts, and processes for logging engagement and tracking effectiveness in your CRM solution.”
Our goal today is not to lay out the specific phases or elements of a universal B2B sales process, because in the current environment, this framework should never be that rigid. Instead, the process should be flexible and adaptive to the organization, its people, and its offerings.
The following tips are intended to help you refine a B2B sales process that fits your team and aligns with the marketplace of today and tomorrow.
Tips for Improving the B2B Sales Process
Embed Digital into Your Sales Process
Engaging buyers in an online environment remains new ground for many sellers. One of the big necessities for a modern sales process is crafting it to the specifications of this transformed playing field.
“Today’s B2B buyers do their research, have their conversations, and receive their recommendations online,” according to RiseFuel. “Modern sales teams need to embrace that fact and make digital the centerpiece of their modern sales strategy.”
They suggest locking down your CRM, adopting a multi-channel approach, and gaining more comfort with digital communication. That last part is critical: Since social media and email are now fixtures in virtually every B2B sales process, it’s worth integrating best practices for each into your onboarding and training.
Develop a Model to Get Out Front with Buyers
Past research has shown that three out of four buyers will go with the first rep to add value and insight during their purchase journey. The importance of timing cannot be overstated. Anthony Iannarino accentuates this point in his recent blog post on gaining a competitive advantage in B2B sales, where getting there first and capturing earlier mindshare are his top two directives.
“It is always better to be in front of an opportunity than behind it,” he writes. “This allows you to do the work of positioning yourself as a partner and creating a preference to work with you.”
He adds that “the person who does the best work helping their contacts make sense of their world, their challenges, and their opportunities is capturing mindshare and gaining a competitive advantage.”
Does your sales process include tactics and techniques to support the objective of being first to reach out with relevant insight? That kind of contact makes it easy to maintain visibility, so you can act quickly on a timing trigger to spark friendly engagement. Once that relationship has been established, you will be the first contact as a need or pain point emerges.
Focus on Building Trust Across the Buying Committee
B2B buying committees are growing larger and more complex. That’s something that all sales processes should be accounting for. In most cases, it’s not enough to narrowly focus on developing one relationship at an account. Teams should be striving to build trust with multiple stakeholders and influencers.
Our latest Live with Sales Leaders episode, Building Trust with the Buying Committee, addresses this very topic. With guidance from sales pros Craig Rosenberg and Dan Gottlieb, you’ll uncover practical tips for tapping into emotional intelligence, storytelling, personalization, and message framing.
Make Social Proof a Major Part of Your Sales Content
As you move deeper into the sales process, and momentum builds toward a decision, social proof — such as case studies, testimonials, and online reviews — can be powerfully persuasive. No amount of pitching from a rep matches the credible impact of a satisfied customer who might’ve once been in your prospect’s shoes.
“My first recommendation would be to make the customer familiar with the person giving the social proof,” he writes. “So, if there is a testimonial or a review, make sure to mention the person’s company, position and what you’ve done for them or sold them. A testimonial from a CEO or CFO of a company in the same industry might mean a lot more than the same testimonial by a branch manager.”
Work with marketing to ensure reps have quick access to repertoire of social proof content that can be linked to a variety of different customer scenarios and challenges.
Let Data Drive Your Sales Process
As we alluded earlier, there is no single way to win in B2B sales. All processes should be tailored to the strengths of the teams using them, and the nature of the buying audience. In general, we believe mainstays like digital integration, timing and alert mechanisms, deeper buying committee coverage, and powerful sales content are valuable cornerstones for any modern sales organization. But the way you use each piece for your specific process will differ.
To make these determinations, let sales data be your guide. The more information you track, document, and analyze, the more you can make decisions based on solid evidence. Data-driven process is the ultimate key to a B2B sales process that delivers.
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