B2B sales can be hard. You’re always struggling to get more qualified leads to keep your pipeline healthy while at the same time battling the ever-growing market competition. What makes it worse are the long sales cycles. You’re continually trying to adapt to the ever-changing buyer-seller relationship needs.
In this article, we will share with you four B2B sales strategies. They helped many of our customers overcome these common challenges and stay on top of the game.
1. Strategic selling
Strategic selling was introduced by the Miller Heiman Group. It's a tactic that focuses on helping businesses win complex deals with a scalable, insights-driven approach.
The core of the approach lies in being able to identify different points of contact at the company you’re prospecting, based on their influence on your sales process. Next, you determine the level of support these contacts can provide during decision making at the prospect company.
Here’s an example. You want to sell a project management and automation tool to a company. In this case, your first point of contact could be the HR manager or a marketing manager who has been looking for productivity tools to boost the team’s effectiveness.
Having contacted them, you might realize that the marketing manager is a decision influencer, while the HR manager is the one who will take it to the decision maker. So you establish your value proposition according to their department needs during outreach. This way, you can start the conversation on a meaningful footing.
You take into account what each of the established contacts wants to hear in order to get the desired response. That's strategic selling.
Why does it work?
This strategy forces the sales teams to go beyond the usual one contact they establish on the prospect end. It nudges them to dig deeper into the prospect company’s organizational chart. By doing their homework on the complete account, they can identify the actual people who can influence or make decisions.
It also encourages the sales teams to continuously tailor the value proposition based on the changing market trends and prospect needs. That way, they keep their sales processes up-to-date at all times.
2. Solution selling
As the name suggests, this B2B sales strategy focuses more on the needs of the prospect than it does on the actual product sale process. Put more precisely, the salesperson focuses on diagnosing or helping identify the needs of the prospect, their challenges, and goals. Next, they recommend products or services that will help them overcome these challenges.
This type of selling tactic is especially useful when your business offers custom solutions to its target market.
To explain this with an example, let’s say your business offers cloud storage. Here’s what the above process of solution selling would look like for you:
- Prepare - Research the prospect’s pain points and the solutions they have been attempting to solve them.
- Diagnose - Talk to the prospect and ask open-ended questions to understand what business they have, what kind of data they want to store, how much space they would need and more.
- Qualify - Based on your conversation, see if the prospect fits your ideal customer persona and if they are interested in moving their data to the cloud. Find out who the final decision maker is.
- Educate - If the prospect qualifies for the solution you offer, educate them about how the cloud storage you provide will help them overcome their current pain points and why you’re better than others in the market.
- Solve - Offer them a tailored solution based on their needs along with case studies of how you helped similar clients.
- Close the deal - Here is when you have convinced the prospect that they need your solution and work towards on-boarding them on the cloud.
Why does it work?
Solution selling works for B2B businesses because right from the beginning of the sales cycle, the prospect feels valued. Being heard out and then offered solutions that are tailored to suit their needs helps establish stronger relationships between the business and the prospect, leading to higher conversions and sales.
You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.
- Patricia Flipp
3. Account Based Selling
This is a sales tactic that Gartner predicted would be adopted by 75% of B2B businesses by 2019. Account based selling is all about treating every account as a market of one. It includes a multi-touch, multi-channel strategy, executed across the company, to establish contact with multiple stakeholders at the prospect’s company.
Account based selling typically involves four tactics:
Let’s look at an example again. You’re selling a service management software to a logistics company. Here’s what the process would look like for you:
- Select target accounts - List down all the logistics companies that you can offer your solution to.
- Investigate & identify - Delve into the data and conduct research on common challenges the above companies face, across various processes on multiple levels.
- Personalized value - Tailor your value proposition to create different variations that address the challenges and goals at different levels in the company.
- Outreach - Reach out to the multiple stakeholders in charge of decision-making across various processes and levels of the company.
Be warned: to implement account based selling, you need to have enough data on either existing customers or your target market to be able to identify their common characteristics. Simply put, this tactic is roughly 90% prospecting for information and 10% pitching the solution.
Typically, account-based selling is ideal for companies that have complex sales interactions, lengthier sales cycles, require the approval of several decision makers and have a higher chance of up-selling and cross-selling.
Why does it work?
Account based selling works to keep multiple stakeholders at a prospect company engaged. It uses different value propositions based on the buyer personas and the stages of the sales cycle they are at, addressing their challenges and goals. The right message at the right time to the right person helps build stronger relationships with the prospect company. It additionally wins you more votes from the prospect company’s stakeholders, leading to high-value conversions.
If you’re not taking care of the customer, your competitor will.
- Bob Hooey
4. Social Selling
According to Forrester, 68% of B2B customers research the solutions they need on search engines and social media. Social selling focuses on the latter.
Social selling refers to the tactic of first establishing your business in the defined target market and then focusing on building relationships with prospect companies as the first step of selling. Today, this usually includes leveraging social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and others to share relevant content in order to engage potential buyers or nurture existing ones.
But there’s a critical difference between social selling and marketing - the former focuses on building one-on-one relationships with prospects across these channels; while the latter is all about broadcasting messages from one to many.
Here are the key components of social selling:
As an example, let's take a look at how we use LinkedIn.
With a profile optimized to talk clearly about what we’re building, we network and connect with prospects on a pre-understood footing. The addition of ‘Making CRM human’ to our profile tagline creates a conversation-starter.
But that’s not all. We also share sales-related content actively with our network to generate discussions around strategies - not directly selling what we do, but focusing on building contextual relationships.
The goal here is to be able to establish ourselves as experts in the industry who want to have conversations with companies, and not just sell to them. The better the conversations, the higher the number of conversions.
Why does it work?
Social selling works for B2B businesses because it focuses on building relationships first by connecting with the prospects, and selling later. This enables the salesperson to have better conversations with prospects and promote content that is relevant to them across the channels they are most active on.
Additionally, it also helps you keep a watch on competitors - how they’re approaching the target market, how people are interacting with them and what their customers are saying about them.
Conclusion: Which B2B Sales Strategy Should You Use?
The answer is: to each his own. While the above four tactics have proven to be effective, not every B2B sales strategy is suitable for every business.
Before you choose a strategy to implement, you need to look into your current sales processes, define your target market segments and which mode of engagement they prefer, how long you can afford a sales cycle to be, and of course, the resources available to you.
The one fact that cannot be denied, however, is that B2B sales have changed. They are no longer about waiting for prospects to come to you, but about reaching out to them the way they expect you to.
In conclusion: B2B sales has become all about finding the right prospect and reaching out to them with the right message, at the right time, through the right channel.
Let us know in the comments: which B2B sales strategy works best for you and why?
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