B2B sales refers to any buyer-seller relationship where both parties are organisation/businesses rather than consumers. With services being some of the most obvious and common examples, a successful B2B sales strategy is one where the seller is able to identify their target audience and frame their marketing in order to reach, attract, and draw that target company in.
But this isn’t always easy, with the rise in self-taught and more diverse internal teams often cutting off the need to outsource many services altogether – as has been observed in the sales recruitment market alongside other key business services.
In this article we will be uncovering what a successful B2B sales strategy looks like, in order to retain a strong level of business and cut through the saturated market packed full of competitors and business customers who think they can do it all themselves.
The B2B Market
Covid-19 and the hit to the UK and global economy has seen B2B sales stagnate over the last year, with leading analysts in the B2B sector stating that
“COVID-19 has had a major impact on the e-commerce sector, providing growth for large elements of the B2C market (though difficulties in some areas) and more challenging conditions in the much larger B2B market.”
As such, future success in the B2B market depends on the regrowth of the economy and a shift in the attitude of service providers as they look for new gaps in the market and find ways of supporting businesses with needs that they may not even realise they have.
One key example that has become apparent during the pandemic and ever since is the shift to online, and the end customer demand on businesses who were suddenly (virtually overnight) expected to be able to engage with and sell to their customer base through online channels. For those not versed in ecommerce this was a huge obstacle and let to an uptake in B2B companies selling online services, providing sales recruitment professionals with online experience, and providing systems to streamline business operations.
With that said, for those operating in the B2B market, standing out from the competition has never been so important. And that’s where a successful sales strategy comes into play.
What makes a Successful Sales Strategy?
First and foremost, you need to be able to identify the key players in the decision making process of any large organisation or business. More often than not, these are made up of a combination of the following:
- The User – the people using your product or service everyday
- The Navigator – those putting you in touch with the users
- The Ruler – the decision-maker “top dog”
- The Protector – the company safeguarding professional
- The Opposer – the one that throws up challenges and questions
- The Contributor – third party advisors
Every company has some combination of these individuals, and it is your job as a B2B seller to cut through all of their individual demands and requirements in order to close a sale.
STEP ONE: Understand your Customer and their Business
Once you know the business you are hoping to sell to and understand how their business works (and where the challenges lie), you can build a better working relationship with them and establish higher credibility through tailored and targeted advice.
In the sales recruitment market for example, this means knowing what direction the company is heading in and which roles will be integral in getting them there successfully. As a recruiter, you can then work with that company to define job roles, fill vacancies, and ensure that standard of every candidate is in keeping with the expectations of the client.
STEP TWO: Use Information Correctly
This is known to some as ‘actionable awareness’ and refers to the use of data which actually translates to useful information that can be used by both parties of the B2B process. In today’s world of data and figures, it can be very easy to lose yourself in insight – without an exact idea of how and where that data will be used when it comes to actual decision making.
By cutting back on the data you have about your customer, and by cutting back on the data presented to clients as part of a B2B service, you can ensure that all information leads to action and genuine understanding, and only give customers the insight that they actually want to know.
In our world of sales recruitment, a sales recruitment agency might know endless information about the market for a certain industry, but in reality, the client only needs to know the information pertaining to the roles they are hiring for. Filter, select, and present the relevant information only.
STEP THREE: Let the Customer Lead
Under our ‘actionable awareness’ focus, we should already be presenting data as led by the customer and what they need to know – which means understanding your customer concerns above all else.
Understand your customer’s external drivers that impact their business, their internal challenges, their success criteria, and their overall business objectives. By defining these four key points, you can frame every communication with them as beneficial to the overall vision of their business, giving every touchpoint a purpose.
STEP FOUR: Ask Questions
Not sure how to find all this out about your customer? As a business, it’s your job to uncover the information you need to do the job thoroughly, whether or not the customer opens up to you right away. In a B2B environment, you have to understand that the business is often just as busy as you are and so will need some nudging in the right direction when it comes to disclosing information.
Ask questions that will enhance the way you can support the business and create open lines of communication with the relevant touchpoints in the business that will support the delivery of your product or service.
It is only when you have a thorough understanding of the customer, their goals, and how you can help them achieve those goals, that you can hope to frame a successful B2B strategy.