Step-By-Step Guide to B2B Sales Process: Sales Tips to Maximize ROI
Rather than a strict set of rules, a B2B sales process is an easily customizable and flexible checklist of interactions with a prospect that helps as a guide for a sales rep.
Usually, a B2B sales process goes through these steps: sales prospecting, communicating, identifying pain points, pitching offers, objection handling, and closing deals.
Although it seems easy, creating a sales process and aligning it with the sales strategy requires in-depth knowledge of the product/service and a clear understanding of the target audience.
In this blog post, we are revealing our revenue-generating B2B sales process with a step-by-step breakdown. Read along to learn how you can create the perfect sales process for your company and drive more sales.
What is a B2B Sales Process?
A B2B sales process is a well-calculated and predictable sequence of a few repeatable steps that a salesperson uses to move a prospect through the sales funnel in order to close a deal.
Sales Process Vs. Sales Cycle
A sales process is a continuous cyclical process; that's why many SDRs use the terms sales process and sales cycle interchangeably. However, both these things are slightly different from each other.
A sales cycle is the time it takes to move a customer through the entire sales process, from lead generation to onboarding a new customer. In other words, it's the accumulated time a prospect takes during the sales process.
So whenever someone talks about shortening the B2B sales cycle, it doesn't mean you have to remove a few steps from your B2B sales process. Instead, it suggests that a sales professional needs to move the prospects faster through the sales process (closing a deal).
Sales Process Vs. Sales Funnel
This is another very common confusion among new sales reps. In simple terms, a sales funnel is a visual representation of your sales process that includes lead generation to finalizing a sale.
This high-level visualization is often portrayed as V-shaped, assuming that you will lose a lot of prospects' interests throughout the journey along the sales process.
The different stages of a sales funnel represent a potential client's eagerness to commit to a sales rep's deal. For instance, when a sales deal moves through the funnel, the probability of closing the deal increases, and the required time to close the deal decreases.
With the completion of each step during the sales process, a sales rep moves the prospect down the sales funnel.
Sales Process Vs. Sales Pipeline
A sales pipeline is the concept of visualization of the movement of a prospect through the sales process in real-time. It simply comes from the idea of deals moving across a sales process, from initial communication to finalizing a sale.
A sales pipeline shows the total number of prospects your sales team is working on and shows how much time they need to close the deal. Creating a sales pipeline helps sales teams to monitor their progress, and it also helps in revenue forecasting.
Importance of Developing a B2B Sales Process
You might be thinking, why do you need a B2B sales process at all? Sales is all about bringing in your personality and charm in action and closing deals to increase conversions.
Although selling is an art, complementing it with data-backed findings and practices can improve the scalability of a sales team.
- Breaking a sales strategy down into a few steps helps identify the steps that don't work and replace them with new ones.
- A more rigid sales framework can help a new sales rep get used to the process easily.
- A structured sales approach brings in consistent sales and leaves room for improvisation.
- Having a well-planned sales process makes sure you follow important steps while prospecting.
- A systematic B2B sales process helps you identify your ideal customers, and it becomes easier to forecast and measure success.
Why is the B2B Sales Process Longer than B2C Sales Process?
An interesting study by Klipfolio.com shows that almost 75% of B2B companies have an average B2B sales cycle of about four months. Do you wonder why?
Well, in a B2B account, multiple stakeholders (decision makers) are involved in a singular purchase, and it might take a long time to convince and get a green signal from all of them. That's the major reason for longer B2B sales processes.
As B2B purchases directly impact a company's performance and revenue, that is also a key delaying factor for the B2B sales process.
The buyers' behavior is another key aspect for slowing down the B2B sales process. As the products/services come with high-value transactions, prospects research each and every product in detail to find out what works best for them, delaying the buying process to months.
Essential Steps for Every Successful B2B Sales Process
1. Define Your Sales goals
The first step towards creating a successful B2B sales process is defining the motives and setting clear goals. It keeps your sales teams focused, improves efficiency, and improves your sales strategy.
First things first, analyze your existing sales strategy and previous sales figures to find out where you can improve. Start by asking yourself a few questions:
Would you like to close more deals?
Do you want to identify new audience segments?
Now you have a clear picture ahead of you. And It's time to set smart business goals and set KPIs to measure success. Instead of just aiming to increase sales, target specific numbers for month-on-month growth, e.g., a 10% increase in sales by the end of Q3.
This way, you can set a timeline for your sales representatives and create sales strategies based on that. Setting target-specific smart goals help you improve sales efficiency.
2. Generate Qualified Leads
Once you've defined your sales goals, it's time to generate leads for your sales teams. Finding qualified leads who might have shown interest in your product/service is essential to the success of any business.
You need to have a good understanding of the target audiences, an ICP, and B2B buyer personas in hand for successful lead generation. Here are some of the most successful B2B lead gen strategies to incorporate into your marketing team's strategy:
- Content marketing: Create high-quality content that offers value to your prospects to convert them into leads. For example, eBooks, PDFs, guides, long-form blog posts, newsletters, white papers, case studies, etc.
- LinkedIn outreach: LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for B2B lead generation. Leverage this platform by sharing informative content and engaging with prospects to establish your business as an authority in your industry.
- Email Marketing: Send personalized and targeted emails to prospects to offer value and follow up to convert them into leads. Utilize inbound marketing strategies to generate more leads.
- Referrals: You can run referral email campaigns, launch customer loyalty programs, or simply ask satisfied customers to spread the word.
- PPC Ads: Pay-per-click advertising is an effective way to generate B2B leads. Target relevant keywords and demographics to maximize website traffic and convert them into leads.
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Target specific companies or accounts and tailor your marketing efforts to their needs. By identifying key decision-makers and personalizing your approach, you can generate B2B leads and close more deals.
Besides these highly-targeted lead gen methods, you can also attend trade shows, conferences, and industry events to meet potential customers and build relationships. Moreover, you can host webinars to establish your business as an authority in your field and generate sales-qualified leads.
3. Research Your Prospects
A good salesperson knows their product well, but a great salesperson knows prospects' businesses too.
It is crucial to understand the prospects' pain points before you communicate with them to offer them a unique solution. This also prepares you for discovery calls.
Here are some tips:
- Connect with your prospects via LinkedIn. Check their recent activities – what they shared, what problems they faced, any recent achievements, etc.
- Check their company website for recent press releases or any data that might be helpful during discovery calls.
- Stay updated with industry-related news and changes. This research will help you understand their industry better and what exactly they are looking for.
- Make use of sales prospecting tools to research your prospects.
4. Qualify Leads
Once you have all the necessary data about your prospects and a lead list, it's time to call your leads. Make sure you are maintaining a lead scoring system to assess whether the prospects suit as customers or not.
- Do not pitch your offer at the very beginning of the call. Make sure you build trust among your prospects. Maintain a friendly yet professional tone and thank them for taking the time out.
- Do not beat around the bush, and set a clear agenda for the call. Ask open-ended questions, such as their pain points, their goals, and what they expect from you.
- Active listening is one of the most valued traits of an SDR. So, give your prospects the space to talk and listen attentively. Now it's time to qualify the prospects. Ask them if they have the authority and budget to make a purchase. If not, ask for the right contact.
- Address your prospects' concerns clearly and offer solutions to their pain points. And before ending the call, make sure you summarize the key points and move them through the sales funnel.
5. Pitch Your Offer
At this point, you know the problems your prospects are facing. So, create a sales pitch with tailored solutions for them.
Remember that creativity and personalization is the key to winning sales deals. If you are reaching out to your leads via phone, make sure you can pitch your offer within 30 seconds.
B2B audiences are knowledgeable, and they do their research before reaching out to a company. So, listing your features again won't cut a slack for you, as they are least interested to hear that.
Instead, focus on how your product/service can solve their problems. Give them a few use-case examples of how they can actually solve problems.
However, do not over-explain anything; if your prospects are following up with questions, that is a good sign.
5. Objection Handling
A B2B sale can take a few weeks before the final purchase. So, it's expected that most of your prospects will get back to you with questions.
The little trick to sales objection handling is that the prospect is never wrong. So, if you disagree or argue over their questions or issues, you will lose potential customers.
Start by listening to your prospects' queries and concerns carefully and propose your offer in a way that resolves their queries.
6. Close Successful Deals
Well, we've reached the most exciting stage of a B2B sales process. By now, you have pitched how your product/service can help your prospects, handled objections, and convinced the prospects to purchase our offering.
Discuss the pricing plans with your prospects, negotiate, and pitch your final offer. Also, make sure to discuss all the remaining steps in detail to avoid surprise bumps along the way.
Once the deal is finalized, ask them to pay and immediately send the contract.
7. Onboard New Customers
A sales rep's work doesn't end with the deal closing. As there are multiple decision-makers for a B2B purchase, you need to maintain a good impression by sending follow-up emails.
Keep it short and professional; offer onboarding support and provide the next steps. This will help you strengthen the bond with customers and encourage repeat sales.
8. Check-In on Your Customers
Congratulations! You have successfully made a sale and offered onboarding support to your customers. But as a sales rep, you still have one thing left.
Wait for your customers to get the desired results with the help of your service/product and ask for feedback. Just add a simple CTA asking them to fill out the feedback form. And you are done.
B2B Sales Tips for Sales Managers: Maximize ROI
Here are some excellent tips for improving your company's B2B sales performance:
- Remember that personalization is the key to winning more successful deals. So personalize your communication with customers.
- Build real connections with your prospects for the long run. Listen actively, think critically, and ask the right questions.
- Use omnichannel outreach such as social media (LinkedIn), sales calling, emails, events, etc.
- Use sales prospecting tools, sales engagement platforms, and cold emailing tools such as Smartlead to personalize your message at scale and automate recurring manual work, e.g., booking meetings.
- Build a dedicated sales operation team. Provide constant training to upgrade sales reps' efficiency.
- Align your marketing and sales teams' efforts.
- Showcase customer success stories and share customer testimonials and feedback to attract new customers.
A well-executed sales process creates a structured framework for your sales strategy. It helps your business convert more prospects into customers, onboarding new customers, and it also helps in training new sales reps.
You, as a sales leader, can create a successful B2B sales process by setting realistic goals, creating an outline for every step, involving customer-front departments, and making changes when needed.
Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at SmartLead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.