Refining Your B2B Sales Process
The B2B sales process requires an established method with steps that can be improved upon over time. By refining your team’s B2B sales process, you can ensure it meets the expectations of today’s market while still staying rooted in a solid foundation. Revisiting the B2B sales process frequently is good practice when onboarding new team members, when new technologies are introduced, when buyers’ needs change, or when you notice a negative trend in one of your KPIs.
Here are a few tips for how to get the most from the B2B process and advice for how to make adjustments along the way.
Review and Reduce Inefficiencies
Inefficient B2B sales processes slow down operations and can result in missed opportunities. Look at inefficiencies within your organization and find ways to reduce them or eliminate them altogether. For example, leverage templatized proposals that can be easily updated by your support staff. Start with a solid, sales-approved foundation that can quickly be customized per pitch and/or prospect.
Another option is to consider hiring an assistant who is solely in charge of creating and organizing proposals and contracts, leaving salespeople focused on selling. An assistant can fine-tune the copy and design of each proposal as well as keep the contract process moving forward by monitoring prospect communication.
Delegating tasks in this way frees up time for the sales team while ensuring these important steps are being completed in a timely manner. Having the right materials and people in place can help streamline the sales process and avoid costly delays.
Look for Automation Opportunities
Automation often goes hand in hand with reducing inefficiencies in B2B sales. Look for automation opportunities that can be implemented through a CRM and other sales and marketing tools. A few examples of this include:
- Auto syncing all email correspondence with your CRM
- Auto call logging and recording
- Lead enrichment tools
- Email follow-ups executed on behalf of the sales rep
- Task reminders
- Personalized email templates
By segmenting leads into targeted groups, you can set automated messaging that speaks to specific pain points and stages of the buying process. A strong understanding of a prospect’s goals and challenges helps to identify where they sit in the B2B sales funnel and what type of targeted group they’re in.
For example, a potential buyer in the consideration phase is likely vetting other resources and may not be ready to sign a deal just yet. They may benefit most from automated monthly emails that deliver helpful information or invitations to opportunities to test or experience your product or service.
When working within your general target audience, keep in mind each stakeholder will have different pain points you’ll want to address on a case-by-case basis. Never assume or offer blanket solutions that don’t apply specifically to the prospect you’re communicating with.
Additionally, funneling content through marketing automation helps nurture qualified leads and allows your sales team to manage their time and efforts efficiently. Keep prospects engaged by generating interesting and informative content, such as blog posts, webinars, and social media campaigns, all of which provide value and position you as a thought leader in the space.
Consider implementing a content marketing strategy that consistently gives prospects something they may need without pressure to buy as they’re considering your offerings. Review content analytics regularly to determine the level of effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.
Establish Lead Assignment and Prioritization
Another area where you can refine your B2B sales process is through establishing lead assignment and prioritization for your group. As a sales manager, this allows you to streamline sales operations and ensure leads are equally distributed among team members. It also ensures efforts aren’t being duplicated and opportunities aren’t being missed.
Lead assignment and prioritization are determined by how close the lead is to your identified buyer’s persona and the level of their buying intent. This type of prioritization can be achieved through lead scoring. Quickly delegating leads to the appropriate sales rep is made easy when you configure data points by industry, territory, and other factors unique to your sales group. It makes it easier for sales teams to prioritize follow-ups based on lead quality.
Lead scoring points may also be applied for those that fit into your sales demographic and/or demonstrate active online behavior and email engagement. For example, when creating landing page form questions, include identifiable characteristics of your demographic, such as job title, industry, and location, as response options. Anyone outside what you’ve identified as your target market can be automatically separated from the pre-qualified leads and given lesser priority.
Additionally, tracking online behavior can help with lead scoring by revealing a level of a potential buyer’s intent to purchase. By reviewing website pages they’ve viewed, offers downloaded, and other opportunities they’ve engaged with, you can assign a higher lead score and position sales efforts to target for conversion.
A third way to prioritize leads is by monitoring email engagement. Those that are heavily engaged and have a consistently high click-through rate may be assigned a higher lead score. Deliver information that can nurture them into the next phase of the B2B sales funnel, such as a product or service demo.
Not all leads require the same level of activity. Prioritizing leads and assigning them appropriately will allow your team to focus the most time and attention on those closest to buying while keeping others engaged and moving through the sales process.
Set a Timeline to Stay on Track and Monitor Team Progress
Moving a potential customer through the B2B sales process hinges on whether or not the deal gets to the closing phase. Despite the work that comes before, there are still several steps that come into play before a contract is officially signed. This includes delivering a proposal, negotiating terms and pricing, and establishing a start date, among other things.
Part of maintaining an efficient timeline is learning how to negotiate effectively. Monitor the progress of your sales team’s closing rates as well as any scheduled follow-ups to prevent deals from going stale. Reviewing sales analytics and encouraging collaboration among every sales representative can provide insight into what challenges businesses face most and the main causes of delays throughout the B2B sales process.
When refining your B2B sales process, track and compare lagging and leading indicators to understand what drives revenues and other KPIs. When you identify areas that underperform, determine the root cause. Is it based on an inefficient process? Does your sales staff not follow established processes? Is it something else entirely? Make sure you rely on data to drive decision-making versus “hunches” or “feelings.”
A personalized growth plan for each B2B salesperson can focus on the various areas necessary to create a strong overall team. Set KPIs to monitor and measure accomplishments, and create opportunities for team members to talk through challenges, strategies, and solutions.
An effective B2B process ensures all sales reps are aligned with how they’re working toward the end goal on an established timeline. However, each sales professional will have different strengths they bring to the table as they work through different parts of the B2B sales cycle. Some sales reps may be better at building rapport while others excel at discovery, presentation, or closing. Identifying these strengths and weaknesses will help sales managers with their coaching efforts.
Modify and Improve Sales Methods as Needed
Evaluate your team’s overall sales process and gain input from your own staff regarding areas where it could be improved, or consider hiring an outside vendor to provide a review and suggestions.
Successful sales teams learn from their experiences, good and bad. It’s always beneficial to determine what worked and what didn’t in various sales scenarios. This can help with the modification and improvement of the process.
Instituting a type of post-mortem meeting allows team members to recap the challenges and outcome and what strategies caused it to succeed or fail. It also provides insight into repeated patterns that may be resulting in delayed or lost deals.
Implementing sales training practices and expanding the growth of a sales team takes time and attention to detail to ensure a streamlined process. Additionally, ongoing refinement of the B2B sales process requires reinforcement of techniques learned during sales training. This type of ongoing coaching creates a permanent behavioral change among each sales professional to promote an increase in sales success.
When refining your B2B sales process, your team will achieve greater success when they are collectively aligned. It takes following a combination of strategic steps that meet revenue goals and maintain strong client relationships. Although each B2B salesperson may have their own individual strengths and level of experience to contribute, following the same process is what will maintain a strong sales organization.
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