We have all been there. Whether it was by phone, door to door, or at a kiosk, we avoid salespeople. The dread of having to endure a long-winded sales pitch from an over-eager sales rep trying to win your loyalty seems worse than death most days…
Raise your hand if you have ever shut the blinds and pretended you are not home when they came-a-knockin’?
We are all guilty of this.
On top of these negative feelings, many people believe traditional sales are fizzling out as consumers can now research, find, learn and ultimately buy products and services without a middleman. The ways of the modern salesperson is changing, especially if you are selling B2B services or products.
This article will teach you how to develop strong selling tactics that work in the modern world of B2B services. Whether it’s your first time selling B2B services or you’re a seasoned veteran looking to improve your trade, this is article is for you.
B2B Services Basics
B2B services are not just a whirlwind of individual people making purchasing decisions accounting for themselves. B2B businesses require planning and involve a lot more people when making a purchase. B2B service sales usually follow a B2B sales funnel that requires appropriate planning, engagement and closing.
Let’s go through the B2B services sales funnel basics below:
1. Research & Contact
The first stage of the B2B sales process is to figure out who your target customers are and creating a “buyers profile” that you can start focusing on.
At first, this will seem tough and you will spend a lot of time trying to find the right people for your B2B business. The best place to start is to search online for businesses that you think are likely to use your product or service. Once you find the “target group” you can create a “buyer’s profile.”
A buyers profile is creating almost a “fake identity” for your ideal customer, or in this case, business. You will compile an identity consisting of your ideal businesses demographics, founding dates, finances, culture, pain points, and business type.
With time, you will quickly refine your research methods and things will become more clear as to who is your ideal customer and where you can find them.
Once you determine who you want to reach out to, you need to dig deeper! Honestly, you need to cyberstalk them. The more you know about your potential customer, the better you will be off you will be to “speak” to their needs, interests and passions. Putting in heavy research ahead of the game will help you better move customers down the different steps of the B2B sales funnel.
Once fully researched and you have a strong profile created for them, contact them. Whether its email, events or calls, make sure you create a great first impression focusing on their needs and then following up with education them not just on your business but more so the solutions your business creates.
Referrals probably make up 50% of your B2B business success.
Customers who come to you from an existing customer’s recommendation via word-of-mouth are much more likely to become a new customer and they are less likely to push when negotiating price. Social proof is a powerful source of business these days!
If you are approved by someone else as a quality business to work with, you are already invited into a trust-worthy space of another person.
Why focus on cold connections when you can focus on connecting with the warmth of business friendships?
Referrals are just as important as customers you found on your own. It is not only new business, it is a cultivation piece for your current customer that referred them. If you treat referrals positively it will create a positive experience in which an existing customer will want to buy and refer you on again to more future customers.
Okay, so you have researched, met with and talked with these potential customers. Now its time to see if they are good qualifiers! In order to properly qualify or confirm that there is an opportunity to make a B2B sale, you need answer to the following questions:
- Do they have a budget for your services or products?
- Are you talking to the person with the purchasing power for the business? If not, what questions can you ask now to save time?
- Do they need your products and services?
- Are they looking buying your products or services currently or sometime soon?
When you answer these questions you are able to see how your relationship will work and develop over the next few months.
Are they close to a sale or will they need more cultivation efforts?
Qualifying is an important step in the sales process because it helps you rank potential customers on the likeliness of purchasing and how your efforts and time can be split amongst them.
BONUS: Make sure you have a good system for tracking your contacts information and where they are in the sales funnel process. Note taking is important! You don’t want to miss a sale just because you’ve lost track of where your customers are in the sales process or forgot to follow up with them. Having a CRM system like Salesforce makes this easier!
3. Meetings & Sales Pitches
Meeting with customers in person is the best possible option when wanting to sell your B2B services. When possible, try to avoid selling the product over the phone as you cannot as effectively present your B2B services to them that way.
When you have the opportunity to meet with a potential customer, don’t waste their time. Make sure you make the most out of the opportunity to be in front of them so pair multiple asks, create a list of topics to cover with them and think about how you want them to flow ahead of time.
The key to a successful meeting is to pre-run them in your mind and make a mental note of where you want this conversation to go.
What A B2B Sales Pitch Should Contain
A good B2B sales pitch should tell a story and share solutions. The key things you need to present to your potential customers are:
- Who you are (Include senior leadership for your B2B business in closing meetings)
- Your Business, Mission and Story
- Value Propositions For Them
After you present these things in a clear, quick and informative way, it’s important you always go back and review things to ensure the main points get across and confirm commitments. When looking at an actual B2B sales pitch it’s probably best to work within this type of flow:
- Introduce Yourself and Your Business
- Set Industry Content and Explain Pain Points
- Explain Negative Impacts of Pain Points and Introduce Your Solutions Upfront
- Set Our Pricing and Value/ Saved Time Your Solutions Give
- Show Your Competition and How You Differ
- Summarize and Review Main Points of Sale and Their Needs
By creating a pre-plan of the conversation and pitch you can effectively communicate your thoughts and “sell points” better than just winging it and rushing to the closing! Using digital in this is also important, so if you have an Ipad to express your industry content, that is awesome! If you can send them a presentation ahead of time to walk through that is also a great option!
4. Proposals and Closing
Okay, so the meeting went well and its time for you to follow up with a written proposal and pricing plan customized to their needs. Leaving a proposal and negotiating cost is an absolute art because you need to balance promotion, reality and straightforward service costs.
When your potential customer wants to discuss your proposal in more depth make sure you take a look at the following things to make the most out of these conversations:
- Get Face Time: Watch for telling body language! Body language will help you to understand your potential customer’s true feelings on pricing and their partnership with your B2B services.
- Be Appropriate in Sales Funnel Position: The B2B sales process helps you to understand your customer’s needs and where they are in the sales process. If you have only met with them once, it might not be appropriate to put a proposal in front of them.
- Be honest and open and build trust: If you are honest and open, your customer is far more likely to reciprocate. If there is mutual trust, their won’t be a need for games, you will know where you both stand.
- Don’t Fear Silence: When you ask for the sale, be sure to maintain the silence and be okay with pausing for their response. These are telling times in their reactions, so be patient so you can read them correctly. The temptation is to talk, but don’t undermine your position trying to fill the space of insecurity.
6. Closing The Deal
Great! You have done all the hard work of building a results-based and meaningful relationship with your potential customer, congrats! Remember in these final stages, you are selling value, not a price. Always remind them of the value they are getting from their purchase and partnership with your B2B services.
When wanting to close a deal, make sure you are following up on their information asks, you are prepared and respecting all of their needs. Most customers will ask you for something. Do your best to work with them, I am firm believer in giving you, therefore, receive that much more in life later on.
Now we understand the basics of B2B sales funnels lets look at creative ways you can work through these steps for B2B services sales!
10 Tips For Successful B2B Services Sales
When it comes to B2B sales, customers say they care most about product and price—but they really want a great sales experience. For sales reps, that means it’s not just about the sales channel levels and pushing them through, it’s about the customer’s relationship with you as a representative of your business. Ask yourself:
- How am I expressing the brand and culture through my interactions with this individual?
- How are my cultivation efforts with customers? Am I informing them and pointing content towards their needs?
- How can I create small and meaningful touch points that differentiate us from our competitors?
- How are my questions and conversations with clients? Are they empathetic, connecting and expressive towards their specific pain points?
- How can I create continual touch points for clients after the sale? How is my follow up methods? How does it leave my client feeling?
With those things in mind, let’s take a look at B2B service tactics that you can use to better your relationships with customers and therefore retaining and improving your numbers!
1. Make a Game Plan
Like any marketing plan, B2B services need a plan of action with each potential customer. CRM programs can help you track cultivation efforts, conversations and notes for customers but you will ultimately want to answer the following questions with each customer:
- Goals: What measureable goals can you make with them? What are they wanting to achieve?
- Plans: What strategies can we take to achieve those goals set out for the customer?
- Challenges: What are some of the challenges we have?
- Timing: What is our timeline for the customer? Do they have a timeline needed for solutions?
- Budget: What is the budget for the customer to gain our solutions?
- Need: What are the pain points they specifically need to be addressed?
By having a customer plan, you can effectively work with them through the sales funnel in a meaningful way without seeming rushed or ingenuine.
2. Be Personable
The best salespeople are the ones who make their customers feel like family so don’t be a transactional robot!
Sales are not about you, it’s about them, your customers!
Sometimes when we sell things, we use our own business lingo, acronyms and sayings that customers do not care about nor will want to adapt. I learned this the hard way when fundraising in Washington D.C. for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America: When I was in meetings I learned I couldn’t use the term PTYDS, standing for programs for teen and youth development, because the funder had no context for the term and therefore created a space in the conversation and disconnected us.
Don’t learn the lesson of speaking mumbo-jumbo with customers this way! Make their experiences with your business personable and relatable beyond just building a personal relationship with them. Make the lingo easy to relate to, understand and to their needs.
People want to relate to you. You’ve got to show them that you’re interested in their business, what they want to achieve, what their life is like, what drives them nuts and try to help them with that.
In today’s modern world people love digital convenience but we crave personal connection. The best B2B businesses will be worked by people who can create meaningful dialogues, build relationships and help customers solve problems to be happy.
Be like Tommy Boy, ask for a name and make a personal, friendly connection. Relate and make analogies they will understand… and no it doesn’t have to be a pretty pet bread roll…
What your potential customer is looking for is somebody who’s going to help them, not somebody who’s the best at reciting an elevator pitch, sending generic emails and having blah conversations that is business focused without the personal touches!
3. Sell Without Selling
Don’t be the phone, door to door or kiosk salesperson people hate! Sell without feeling like selling!
The most successful salespeople these days take a much more consultative approach.
Teaching is the new way to sell. You see it in interactive “How To” explainer videos, webinars, and podcasts and they are effective! When you are meeting with potential customers actively listen for ways you can be the answer to their problems. Look for teaching opportunities that can help educate them down the sales funnel. Teaching helps potential customers become more educated in making better-informed decisions.
When a customer learns something new that will help them, the psychological power of reciprocity helps build loyalty. When teaching, avoid talking about your own product or services because it takes away the genuine build up of a relationship! Be crafty with your sales and be less obvious, focus on the customer’s needs and your solutions not the sales of the products.
4. Solving the Contact Conundrum
Striking the right balance between contacting customers too much and too little requires understanding their needs. It is also important that you understand their communication style and how they want to be contacted: phone, email, in person and their content preferences of paper over digital. (Yes, there we tons of people who still wanted me to hand mail packets of material)
There should be a clear strategy for reaching out to customers based on needs with schedules dictating frequency.
The best way to make sure you understand this and track is through a CRM system so you can see how much you have contacted them, when and what the conversations have been thus far.
Decision makers for businesses are busy people and they are constantly being hounded by individuals wanting their money and time. Recognize this and make sure you lower interactions but make each of them meaningful and productive. Do not be just another meeting they need to blow through.
5. Create A Better Mindset
If you are a salesperson, it’s easy to be really wrapped up in the numbers and the sales. Stop the mindset of being completely sales driven. This doesn’t help you and customers will be rubbed the wrong way with this attitude.
Nobody wants to be pressured into buying something. I mean, who actually likes social pressure? Making people feel like they have to make a decision now will only upset them. They are not a number, they are a person with needs, passion and pain points that need help! Treat em that way!
The way around this is to think about how you’re going to qualify your sales approach.
Your goal is to figure out what their goal is and how your product solves their problems. When you thoughtfully approach conversations this way, your attitude comes off a lot more genuine and therefore people want to work with you.
Mindsets and attitudes change everything!
6. Ask Meaningful Questions
B2B Services thrive on questions because the details matter. Questions are honestly the most important sales tool because they give you answers on how you can work with customers in a meaningful way. It is like the sales “cheat sheet” for a test!
When meeting customers, avoid yes or no questions that stagnate your conversation. Ask open-ended questions that begin with words like what, how, why, where, when and who. By doing so, you get more “meaty” answers you can use to effectively create marketing strategies, content materials and game plans to serve them. Never assume and always follow up questions for clarification.
7. Be Knowledgeable
Know your B2B services inside and out.
There is nothing worse than having a meeting with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about, nor can creatively talk about their programs, services and products in a customized way. You should know your B2B business so well that you can easily apply your products and services to whoever you are talking to. You should be able to creatively connect mission to missions and help people see how your business can work for them.
Companies can address a lack of product knowledge by centralizing content development and educate their employees so they create uniform messaging and understanding.
But, if you are found in a meeting not knowing an answer, do not pull something out of your bum, it’s okay to say, “I am not sure but I will follow up with you on that.” This can be a strategy you can use to follow up with them post-meeting that not only shows your commitment but it also puts a foot in the door for future meetings and convos!
8. Give Them Options
Everything in B2B services are not going to be cut in dry. Businesses have different needs and varying scales so you need to be flexible and give them options!
Don’t make the mistake of only offering one option to B2B prospects. If you do this, decision makers are exponentially more likely to shop around looking for other options, better prices, and different services. People crave personalizations and options.
Giving options gives customers the impression you are willing to work with them on their needs and gives them the feeling of freedom to choose.
Give each business three-five options that vary in price and value. Let them choose whichever one fits with their budget and best addresses their needs. People like the feeling of choice, it puts the control back in their court!
This psychological trick helps you!
9. Share Your B2B Services Value
Businesses aren’t interested in your product or service, they are interested in the solutions you will bring them!
Today, you need to focus on selling results they can trust in. Be crystal-clear about your value proposition and how you differ from your competition. People want to know why you are a better option than looking at others, so give it to them! Save them the research time!
Think about your value to a specific business ahead of time and start to memorize the general benefits of your B2B services so in meeting situations you can confidently express them without hesitation! Confidence and preparedness is key to winning people over.
10. Mobile and Digital Use
Since 2014, 18-34-year-olds accounted for almost half of all researchers/buyers. If you’re not communicating effectively in modern ways, you need to reevaluate your strategy, taking into account millennials’ familiarity with digital.
According to Google’s recent report, “The Changing Face of B2B Marketing,” 42% of B2B customers use mobile devices during their purchasing process. This means that you need to utilize mobile experiences throughout the whole purchasing process!
Businesses that want to succeed need to communicate and work with individuals in a modern way. How can you do this? I suggest the following:
- Create documents that can be signed and sent digitally for customers to review
- Choose ecommerce platforms that are mobile-optimized so customers can have a consistent experience
- Easy access to digital, field sales team, and customer service reps for 24/7 support
- Heavy social media use in promotion, content and business branding
- Visibility and seamlessness of sales and promotions across your various digital channels
A Selling Sensation
Hopefully this article gave you some good tips and tricks on how you can more effectively sell your B2B services.
Ultimately, customers want to buy but they don’t want to be sold to. Don’t be a kiosk salesperson, be a helpful B2B consultant. It is your job as a B2B services salesperson to make them feel like they came to the conclusion themselves with the help of you being a trusted source.
If you want help in how to further your B2B services and how you can digitally improve your numbers, reach out to us here at Disruptive! We would be happy to consult you on solutions and how you can better reach target customers!
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