Sales (in my opinion) is the most fun, hardest, most challenging, most challenging and most important job of all. Sales is something that anyone can become, usually without any training. It's also why there are so many sales people out there but so few who actually succeed. When it comes to selling services and products in B2B today, salespeople face huge challenges. Sales processes are long, multiple decision makers are involved and new technologies are constantly emerging. Traditional sales methods are being challenged by strategies such as Social Selling and Account Based Selling. Which way should we go? Is it possible to combine these strategies?
In this blog post, I will give concrete tips, share past experiences and tell you how I mix old school sales with strategies like Social Selling to succeed in B2B sales.
For a company to succeed in B2B sales today, it takes several things. Below are my top tips:
1. No salesperson is completely self-sufficient.
In the past, salespeople have worked alone to close a deal. They have booked an appointment, attended the meeting, put together a quote, reviewed the quote, closed the deal and then handed it over for delivery. Those days are over. Today, it takes a really polished team working together to close a deal. This is because customers have become much better order takers and then much more knowledgeable. In some companies, I also see that the delivery people are selling more and more to existing customers. Probably because they are closer to the customer and have a lot of knowledge about the product or service. Your company should take advantage of this. Selling is not something that one particular role (salesperson) in a company does, but this should be something that permeates the entire organisation. From reception, customer service, delivery, finance, HR, marketing and of course the sales department.
If you get everyone in the company to understand the value of helping existing customers and more new customers, sales will happen automatically. Many people selling today probably don't fully understand that they are selling as they only say they are helping customers solve their problems.
So put together strong teams combining the sales and delivery departments to answer customers' questions. With a lot of expertise comes trust and that's what wins you customers. Businesses and individuals want to feel they are being well looked after.
2. Measure all activities.
Many salespeople and organisations are in the dark when it comes to keeping track of which activities are really delivering results. The key here is to keep track of the results of the different activities. Therefore, it is important to gather all the data to find out how to prioritise and how to allocate your time in the best way. I would say that this is common to all departments in a company.A concrete example could be that a company exhibits at the same trade fair every year just because they have always done so. But they have no idea how many new customers this fair generates. The same is true for a salesperson who has been using the same sales manual and calls the same decision-makers to book appointments day in and day out and wonders why they are not getting more appointments. This is about measuring, being critical and trying new things. Then look at what works best and do more of it.
3. High activity.
There are no shortcuts to a really good sales result. High activity will never go out of time. The more cold calls you make or the more sales emails you send, the more likely you are to hit the mark. I also say as the old hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take". There are a lot of sales people who never get the shot and therefore never get any meetings or business.
4. Important to follow up.
According to studies, on average 7 contact points are required before a sale is made. Therefore, don't give up just because you don't get the deal on the first contact. Therefore, develop a strategy for how you approach the customer in different ways over a longer period of time. One strategy that I usually use is something called Snow Flake. For example, if you've sent a quote or asked for an appointment but haven't received a response. Then you can get back to the customer on another matter. For example: - "Hi Karin! Hey I thought of you yesterday when I read this blog post. I think it might be interesting for you..... "In this way, you are not perceived as too salesy and pushy, but you show that you care.
5. knowledge of their own products and services.
As I mentioned in point 1, in order to help customers with their problems and challenges, you need to have a good knowledge of your own services and products. In this way, you give credibility and can more easily give customers really good solution options.If you sell a software, you may not need to know what code it is built with, but you need to understand all the features and how they are connected to each other and how they can help the customer to improve. Then, in many cases, it takes specialist knowledge to bring in a customer, so you need to work closely together internally and bring a qualified specialist to your meetings.
6. Understand all the decision-makers in your customers' organisations.
Often, when you sell larger services and products to customers, several different decision-makers are involved. When I sell digital marketing services, I may have contact with the CEO, the marketing manager and the sales manager. If you learn what their challenges and needs are, it will be easier for you to successfully adapt your solutions to them. In this way, you can more easily convey value to them. Also, be knowledgeable about the industry you are working towards. Follow various blogs on the subject to keep up with the latest trends in your client's industry.
7. Learn to monitor the world.
It takes a lot of knowledge, data and analysis to bring in a customer today. Customers want to talk to a salesperson who is in the know and can guide them through the jungle of options. A really good understanding of the customer's industry can make you even more relevant. You can do this by following different topics and categories on various blogs and news sites.
8. Be open and transparent.
Something I've learned over the years is to be honest. If you're counting on the truth to get you a deal, it will bite you in the ass down the road. If your service or product can't deliver what the customer wants 100% then tell them. Be honest. I see many companies today openly telling their customers that their service is not fully ready but under development and that they are happy to work with the company to develop it with the customer. A smart way I think.
9. A needs analysis that sells itself.
Work out really sharp questions that make the customer realise they need your help. If you can get a customer to open up as their challenges and problems then you can also tell them how these things can be solved. Usually, just listening properly is enough. I always tend to have the attitude that I never want anything from the customer and am always ready to leave the room. As soon as we want things from people, we become demanding and nobody wants to feel that. That's not good for the customer or the salesperson. I can tell you that it is immediately noticeable if a salesperson goes into a meeting with the understanding to close a deal in order for the salesperson to meet the month's budget. As a manager, I would therefore not put the pressure on closed deals but on keeping a high level of activity and working on sales training. Learn to ask the right questions.
10. Go to the right meetings and clear the air!
Sure, it's fun to book meetings and go to meetings, but make sure it's with the right kind of company you can do business with. Otherwise, it will be a good and pleasant meeting but no deal at the end as the company was too small anyway or similar. Then I got a tip from Sara Larsen at Break the Box a while ago who told me that it's incredibly important to clean the pipes sometimes. You've probably had lots of opportunities lying around for a long time? Unfortunately, these opportunities have a negative effect on you....they take up your thinking power and give you a misleading picture of how you're doing against your budget. Sara said you can just call the person and say, "Well, Donald, I'm sitting here cleaning out my pipe. We've had a meeting and we've come a long way but I feel like we've stopped. To save us both time and effort should I take you off my pipe or do you want to work towards making a good deal?" This is good enough. Then you can move on later and focus on other clients.
11. 100 knocks gives 50 snacks which become 10 thanks!
Calculate how many companies you need to contact to get an appointment. Calculate how many meetings become business. Also work out which approach is best in terms of time spent and number of meetings booked. Is it email, phone or LinkedIn? Just so you don't spend time on the wrong things. Then set your activity targets and rock on!
My personal sales journey
Okay, now for a little personal story. I have been working in some kind of sales or customer service profession since 2000. My first real job was in a bicycle shop where I took care of customers almost every day after school when I was in high school. It was the first time I got to meet customers, listen to their challenges/problems and then help solve them. In this case, it was fixing their bikes and then charging them. I had a blast and my boss Thomas taught me all about both bikes and customer service. The customer was the most important thing and the goal was to help them in the absolute best way possible and thus make them happy and satisfied. Simple as that!
Over the past 20 years I have had several sales jobs in different industries. Through all my different sales jobs I have learned a lot of new methods, tips and tricks that I have then taken with me to the next challenge. The most interesting thing is that up until 2016 I worked in a fairly similar way at each workplace. I had a list of potential customers (prospects), a phone, a computer, an email, business cards and at best a CRM. Then it was just a matter of running....that is, snatching the phone and booking appointments!
So what happened sales-wise in 2016?
Then I started working as a salesman here at Contitude. We were a start-up that had big plans to change the world when it came to delivering digital marketing services to B2B companies. We had a unique concept and I loved it. I gathered up all my sales skills and started running. We had bought a list of companies that I called through. I called like crazy. Not many people answered, but once I got hold of them, many were interested in taking a meeting with me.
I booked my meetings but after a few months I felt it was overwhelming to keep that activity going day in and day out, as well as attending new client meetings and dealing with existing clients at the same time. Even though this was incredibly fun, it took a lot of my energy. When you are working alone in sales at a start-up or small company, a lot of the responsibility is on you and not on anyone else. At larger companies, there are often sales teams that support each other. One month you're doing well and the next month a little worse and vice versa for a colleague.
This was at the same time that I started to learn about how to create warmer leads to facilitate a meeting. I realized then that LinkedIn could be a great complement to my other activities to start softening up the right companies and people. But how would I go about doing this successfully? What does it take for a person at a company to be interested in you?
Well, what is required is to demonstrate your competence to these people through knowledge, tips and tricks. At Contitude, we gathered all the information about the decision makers and companies and then started to respond to all their challenges and needs, something called situational content. You take a question that a decision maker in a company has and then you answer that question.
You can do this in the form of blog posts, videos or images. In simple terms, you then contact these decision-makers by phone, email or LinkedIn and send over the article with a message that might read: 'Hi, I saw you're working on this. Our clients experience this problem very often, so we've developed a checklist that solves it for them. Maybe this could be interesting for you too.". Once you see that the person has read or seen your message then you can follow up again. In this way you warm up potential customers so that when you contact them for the first time, it won't be so cold.
I would say that this approach is Social Selling and Account Based Selling. By sharing the right kind of knowledge and content with your decision makers, you can more easily open up the doors to your dream customers. One thing I would like to point out though is that one does not exclude the other when setting your sales strategy. When it comes to working with Social Selling, it's like a sprinkling that I put on top of my traditional methods such as cold calling, cold emails, texting and more. If you then have a marketing function that also delivers warm inbound leads through inbound marketing then you are incredibly well placed to succeed with b2b sales!
If you need help generating more warm leads, either book a meeting with us below or read this blog post "how do I get more leads?".Book a meeting with Contitude
Since I started doing this, I've been working in a similar way, which has worked really well. But I've also constantly evaluated what worked and what didn't and then improved the process all the time.
I really love sales and my goal is to make more sales people and companies feel this way too. If you can make your organization more sales-oriented, you will both thrive and create better results. Try to convey that sales is about helping customers and not just selling things. It's a new era now!
If you would like more tips on how to improve your B2B sales through sharp sales strategies and digital marketing, please contact us.