Sales (in my opinion) is the most fun, challenging, developing and most important job of all. A salesperson is something that everyone can become. In most cases, completely without education. This is also why there is a large number of salespeople out there, but few who actually succeed. When it comes to selling services and products in B2B today, sellers face major challenges. Sales processes are long. Several decision makers are involved and new technology is constantly emerging. Traditional sales methods are challenged by strategies such as Social Selling and Account Based Selling. Which path should we choose? Is it possible to combine these strategies?
In this blog post I’ll provide useful tips and share my previous experiences. I’ll also let you know about how I mixed old school sales with new strategies, such as Social Selling to succeed with B2B sales.
For a company to succeed with its B2B sales today, several different things are required. Below are my 10 most important tips:
1. No salesperson can succeed completely on their own.
Previously, salespeople worked entirely on their own to close a deal. They booked a meeting to then attend the meeting. They later put together a quote, reviewed the quote, closed the deal and then handed it over for delivery. This isn’t how it works nowadays. Today, a really good team is needed to help to close a deal. This is because customers have gained more knowledge. I’ve also noticed that in some companies or those who work with delivery, sell more to existing customers. Probably because they are closer to the customer and have a lot of knowledge about the product or service itself. This should benefit your business. Sales is not something that a certain role (salesperson) in a company should be doing alone. The entire organization should be included in this process. This includes staff working in the reception, customer service representatives, delivery, the finance department, the HR department, the marketing department and of course the sales department.
2. Get everyone involved
If everyone at the company understands the value of helping the existing customers and new customers, the sale will automatically take place. Many people who sell today probably don’t fully understand that they are selling. This is because salespeople say that they help customers solve their problems.
Therefore, put together sharp teams where you combine the sales and delivery department to be able to answer customer queries. With a lot of knowledge comes trust, and this is where you win the customers trust. Companies and individuals want to feel that they are well taken care of.
3. Measure all activities
In some cases, sales people and organizations are in the dark when it comes to keeping track of which activities provide good results. It is important to keep track of what results the different activities provide. Therefore, it is important that you collect all the data to find out how to prioritize and how to allocate your time in the best way. I would say this has to be consistent for all departments in a company. A solid example could be that a company attends the same fair every year just because they have always done so. But they have no idea how many new customers the fair is generating. The same applies to a salesperson who has used the same sales script. Someone who contacts the same decision makers to book meetings day in and day out. They later wonder why they don’t get more meetings booked. To get better, it is about measuring and being critical and testing new things. Looking at what works best and doing more of it.
4. High activity
There are no shortcuts to good sales results. High activity will never run out of time. The more cold calls you make or the more sales emails you send, the greater the chance that you will reach the right person at the right time. As the old hockey star Wayne Gretzky once said “you miss 100% of the shots you didn’t take”. There are many salespeople who don’t shoot enough and therefore don’t get enough meetings or new business opportunities.
5. Important to follow-up
According to surveys, an average of 7 contact points are required before a sale is made. Therefore, do not give up just because you do not get the deal at the first contact. Therefore, develop a strategy for how you approach the lead or customer in different ways over a longer period of time. One strategy I usually use is something called Snow Flake. For example, if you have sent a quote or asked for a time for a meeting but have not received an answer. Then you can contact the customer in another matter. For example: – “Hi David! I thought of you yesterday when I read this blog post, I think it could be interesting for you… .. ”. This way, you do not get too sales oriented instead you show that you care.
6. Knowledge of your own products and services.
As I mentioned in point 1, in order to help customers with their problems and challenges, you must have a great deal of knowledge of your own services and products. This way, you give credibility and can easily give more customers really good solution options. If you sell a software, you don’t necessarily need to know what code it is built with. However, you must understand all the functions of the software. How they are connected to each other and how it can help the customer to get better. In some cases specialist knowledge is required to gain a new customer. Thus it is important that you work closely with each other internally and bring a qualified specialist with you to your meetings.
7. Understand all the customers decision-makers
Generally when you sell more expensive and complex services and products to customers, several different decision-makers are involved. When I sell digital marketing services, I usually am in contact with the CEO, marketing manager and the sales manager. If you understand what their challenges are, it will be easier for you to succeed with presenting your solutions to them. This way, you can easily provide value to them. Also, learn more about the industry you work with. Follow various blogs on the subject to keep track of the latest trends in the customers industry.
8. Learn to monitor externally
It takes a lot of insight, data and analysis to gain a customer today. The customers want to talk to a salesperson who has a lot of relevant knowledge, and who can guide them through the jungle of different options. Through really good external monitoring of the customer’s industry, you can be even more relevant. You can do this by following different topics and categories on different blogs and news sites.
9. Be open and transparent
Something I have learned over the years is to always be honest. If you stretch the truth to get a deal in, it can affect you negatively further on. If your service or product cannot deliver what the customer expects, then tell them. Be honest. I’ve noticed many companies that openly tell their customers that their service is not completely ready or under development. That they are happy to work with the company to develop it together with the customer. A better approach I believe.
10. An analysis of customer needs that sells itself
Ask questions that make the customer realize that they need your help. If you can get a customer to open up to their challenges and problems, then you can also let them know how these things can easily be solved. I always have the approach that I never want anything from the customer. I am always ready to leave the room. As soon as we want something from someone, we become demanding and no one wants to feel this way. It is neither good for the customer nor for the seller. I can tell you that it is extremely noticeable if a salesperson enters a meeting with the goal to close a deal, in order for the salesperson to meet the monthly budget. As a manager, I wouldn’t put pressure on closed deals. Instead, I would focus on keeping a high level of activity while working with sales training. Learn to ask the right questions!
11. Go to the right meetings and clean the sales pipe!
Of course it’s fun to book meetings and go to meetings. However, make sure it is with the right type of company that you can do business with. It could be a nice meeting to attend while resulting in no business as the company maybe was still too small. Then I got a tip from Sara Larsen on “Break the Box” a while ago. She told me that it is incredibly important to occasionally clean the sales pipe. You must have had loads of opportunities in your sales pipe for a long time? Unfortunately, these opportunities have a negative effect on you. They take up your thinking space and give you a misleading picture of how you perform against your budget. Sara mentioned that you can call the person and say something like: “Well, Kalle, I’m sitting and cleaning my sales pipe. We had a meeting and came a little way, but I’ve noticed that we’ve hit a wall in the process. To save us both time and energy, should I remove you from my pipe or would you rather continue working towards making a good deal? ” This is good enough. Then you can move on later and focus on other customers.
12. 100 knocks gives 50 talks which becomes 10 thanks!
Calculate how many companies you have to contact to get a meeting. Calculate how many meetings will become deals. Also, figure out what approach is best when it comes to time required and number of booked appointments. Is it email, phone or Linkedin? This is so you don’t spend time on the wrong things. Then, you set your activity goals and rock on!
My personal sales journey
Okay, now to a little more personal story. I have been working within sales and customer service since the year 2000. My first real job was in a bicycle shop where I worked with customer service. I was still in high school, and worked almost every day after 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 to repair their bikes. I had a lot of fun working here and my boss Thomas taught me everything about both bikes and customer service. The customer was always our first priority, and the goal was to help them in the absolute best way possible and thus make them satisfied and happy. Simple as that!
Over the past 20 years, I have had several different sales jobs in different industries. Through all my different sales jobs, I have learned lots of new methods, tips and tricks that I have then taken with me to my next challenge. The most interesting matter is that the way I worked until 2016 is very similar in every workplace. I had a list of potential customers (prospects), phone, computer, email, business cards and at best a CRM. Then it was just a matter of getting to work… .so grab a phone and book appointments!
What happened in terms of sales around 2016?
Then I started working as a sales manager 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 all my knowledge in sales and got started. We had a list of companies that I called. I called like crazy. There weren’t many who answered, but once I got hold of potential lead, there were many who were interested in having a meeting with me.
I booked my meetings but felt after a few months that it became overwhelming to hold that activity day in and day out. To both go to new customer meetings and at the same time, take care of existing customers. Even though this was incredibly fun, it took a lot of my energy. When working alone with sales at a start-up or small company, much of the responsibility lies on you. In larger companies, there are often sales teams that support each other. One month it can go well for you, and the next month a little worse and vice versa for a colleague.
This was at the same time as I started learning about how to create warmer leads to easily book more meetings. I then realized that LinkedIn could be a good addition to my other activities, to get in touch with the right companies and people. But what would I do to succeed in this? What does it take for a person in a company to become curious about you?
Well, what is required is that you show your expertise to these people through knowledge, tips and tricks. At Contitude we gathered all the info about the decision makers and companies and then started responding to all their challenges and needs with producing situational content. You then raise an issue that a decision maker in a company has, and then you answer that issue.
You can do this in the form of blog posts, videos or images. Simply explained, you then contact these decision makers by phone, email or LinkedIn and send over the article with a message that may be: “Hi, I saw that you are working on this. Our customers very often experience this problem and therefore we have created a checklist that helps them solve the issue. Maybe this can be interesting for you too ”. Once you have seen that the person has read or seen your message then you can follow up again. This way, you warm up potential customers when you contact them for the first time.
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 easily open the doors to your dream customers. One thing I would like to point out is that you shouldn’t exclude the other more traditional way when you set your sales strategy. When it comes to working with Social Selling, it can be seen as a topping that I put on top of my traditional methods such as cold calling, cold e-mails and text messages and more. If you then have a marketing function that also delivers warm incoming leads through inbound marketing, you have incredibly good chances of succeeding with B2B sales!
If you need help creating more warm leads, you can either book a meeting with us below or read this blog post “how do I get more leads?”.
Since I started working with sales in this way, it has worked out really great for me. But I have also constantly evaluated what worked and what did not, and then improved the process continuously.
I honestly love sales and my goal is to get more salespeople and companies to like this too. If you can get your organization more sales-oriented, you will both develop and create better results. In my opinion, sales is about helping customers and not just selling things. New times are here now!
If you want more tips on how to improve your B2B sales through sharp sales strategies and digital marketing, feel free to contact us at Contitude.