B2B sales can be daunting, especially if you’re just starting out. When a problem seems large and daunting, my trick is always to break it down. Which is exactly what this blog will do for you. Sales is part art, part science. If you can nail the processes, focus on your customers and get into the right mindset, sales success awaits.
So, whether you are a budding salesperson embarking on a new path, or a seasoned pro looking for some inspiration, stick with me and together we will take on the task ahead! With that said, let’s get stuck in.
Understand your customer
Whether you are a business owner, b2b sales rep or b2b marketer, if your job is to sell then you understand the importance of determining exactly who you want to sell to.
I’ve put this step first, because getting into the mindset and understanding the needs of your prospects will form the bedrock of your sales. After all, good sales is about building relationships and helping someone to solve a problem. To solve a problem, you must first understand it!
If you’re working for a company with an established audience, then deep dive into the customers you already have. Talk to them, meet with them. Look at what they buy and when.
When you’re starting from scratch with a new product, it’s all about market research. Go to where your potential customers are and learn all you can about them. How do they currently solve this problem? How much do they spend? Who are the market leaders?
You should also determine what factors might prevent these people from buying your product or service. Are there too many requirements for them to remember or use your item? Does it offer enough benefit over other options?
These questions are important because they can help you to really get into the mindset of your prospect. When you know this information and really understand your clients, you can reach out to them with a truly solid pitch to try your product or service.
Here’s a whole blog on creating your ideal customer profile, if you want to learn more!
Solve their problem
Whether you are selling a software subscription, or providing business services, your prospect needs your help to solve a problem. Keep this in mind throughout the sales journey. Your goal should not be to close a deal and gain some commission, but to help them solve this problem.
If you can demonstrate to your prospect that you can alleviate them of this problem and make their lives easier, or more fruitful, half the battle is won. This can take a few different forms, depending on the market and position that you’re in.
A B2B sales rep in an SME or above will often have a team working around them, including (usually) a marketing person or persons. When this is the case, often the top of your sales funnel will feature content (blogs, white papers, webinars…) to educate and inform. By the time a lead reaches the sales team, the prospect should be aware of exactly how you can solve their problem and it’s your job to convince them that your firm is the one to do it.
Smaller teams, startups and solopreneurs have to wear all these hats at once. If you own the entire sales journey from first contact to close, then its your job to educate and inform. If this applies to you – never fear! Your superpower is your ability to connect with your clients, one to one. There is no passing between teams, they will have you and only you to focus on.
If you’ve taken the time to understand your customers, demonstrating how you can solve their problems will be much easier. If you’re struggling with this step, go back to step one and start again!
Be human and tell stories
Human beings are wired to respond to storytelling. For many thousands of years we have passed on our histories, cultures, thoughts and feelings via the medium of storytelling. It’s a very powerful tool.
The power of storytelling in sales is demonstrated in case studies and testimonials. A well-crafted case study or testimonial will have your prospect putting themselves in the place of the featured client. Imagining themselves having the positive experience, imagining themselves having their problem solved by you and your business.
The problem with case studies and testimonials is that people might skip over them, not having time to read a thousand words or watch a video. This is where you come in. Tell your prospect that story, make it comes to life. Use your energy and enthusiasm to help a story connect. Build that mental bridge for your customer by highlighting the similarities between the case study subject and themselves.
It’s all too easy to get stuck in the habit of selling with jargon and using price charts. This is especially true in B2B sales. For some reason, so many us forget that even business to business, is actually human to human. If you get on a call, or send an email to Apple, or Google, or whoever if may be – you’re not talking to that company. You’re talking to the human at the other end of the line!
Of course there’s a right time for both, sometimes a smattering of jargon shows your client that you know the industry terms, and crunching numbers works for some buyers. Use your intuition to know what works and when. If you’re new to selling, this is a skill you will develop over time.
Your brand and your stories are what make you unique. What experience do you want people to have when they think of you?
If you start a new job, or begin selling a new product, and you get everything right first time – congratulations, you’re the first person in history to do so.
A good salesperson, marketer or entrepreneur is always experimenting, honing and perfecting their craft. That may not be a conscious effort for many. Lots of us do this every day without realising it. My advice to you however is to make this. a conscious effort. Try new things, work out new approaches and record your results.
Think of it like working out. Only measuring the outcomes, like how fast you ran a 5k or how much weight you lifted, will only take you so far. It’s understanding the factors that lead to these outcomes – how much sleep did I get? What did I eat? – that will take you to the next level. It’s the same with sales. If the only thing you’re measuring is meeting’s booked, or deal’s closed, you will hinder your progression. Understand the factors that went into both successful and unsuccessful pitches. What worked? What didn’t? Take notes, lots of notes, and review them. Over time you will have a playbook to follow that works for you specifically.
The real magic of sales lies in forging connections. See yourself as someone who engages and builds relationships. The salesperson who engages, educates and guides will always be more successful. Every interaction is a two way street, a conversation. It’s about engaging with, rather than talking at, your clients.
I have been on the receiving end of hundreds of pitches. I remember perhaps a dozen of those. The ones I remember, are the ones that engaged with me. In fact, some of those salespeople I have connected with on LinkedIn and still talk to from time to time!
Asking questions and really listening to the answers is your superpower when it comes to building rapport. When people feel heard and understood, then open up. When they open up, you can find common ground. Also – and this is important – remember what they say to you! If you don’t have a great memory, reach for that notepad. Ask them about the holiday they told you they were going on. Check in on them if they say they’re off sick. Once again – remember that you’re both human!
Choose words carefully
Words are powerful. Using the wrong one at the wrong time, can provoke a negative emotional response – often subconsciously for the receiving party.
This excellent Forbes article details some words that you should try to avoid and is well worth a read. I was guilty of using these words far too often. Words like “just” – a word that diminishes whatever comes next, or “I’ll try”, demonstrating a lack of confidence in your ability.
It can be tough to do this during a conversation when you’re in full flow, but over time it will become second nature. Start by being more careful with the words you use in emails – this will train your brain to make better choices!
Focus on your customer
If I were to sum up all of the advice given in this blog, this is it. Focus on your customers.
Understand who they are and what they need. Solve their problems. Engage with them. Be memorable. Understand what works for them and what doesn’t. Choose words that inspire them.
If. you can shift your mindset away from chasing a sales and towards helping your customers to succeed, then you in turn will succeed.
Now – get out there, and put this into practice! Good luck and happy selling.