Make the B2B Sales Process a Competitive Differentiator

May 23, 2017

B2B (business-to-business) businesses operate in a highly competitive environment. An outstanding sales process can be a defining strength for businesses as they compete with direct business rivals. A defined sales process has a dual goal to ensure buyer satisfaction and generate higher revenues.   

The following five success methods can be easily adapted for any size business: 

1. Standardize Lead Response Time

Rather than allowing sales representatives to respond to acquired leads at their convenience, focus should be placed on making responses as soon as possible. In one study of over 2,000 U.S. companies, the average first response time of B2B companies to leads was 42 hours while only 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour. Another study found that the quicker a lead is replied to, the greater the chances of successfully contacting the lead back and eventually qualifying the lead or having the lead turn into a paying customer.

Businesses should track how long on average sales reps take to respond to a lead. If the owner of the business is the one replying, then he or she should also keep track of response time. The goal should be to reduce response time as much as possible. A greater percentage of sales will go to the first B2B firm that replies to a lead.

2. Nurture Leads

Nurturing B2B leads is an important concept.  There is more to selling than simply making contact with a potential customer and waiting for a lead to develop. Nurturing leads is a multi-pronged approach of calling, emailing, direct mail, social media, paid targeting, and personal visits directly from sales reps. Marketing and sales should work together to achieve optimum results and return of investment for both areas.

3. Prove Something

B2B sellers must convince buyers of the logic of their buying decision. They must clearly articulate benefits being purchased and solutions to problems as persuasive reasons why their product or service is the one required by the buyer rather than a competitor's product or service. For this to happen consistently and effectively, relevant sales materials must be available for review and/or demonstration in addition to a defined and well-rehearsed "sales pitch."

4. Educate Prospects 

Although the majority of B2B buyers will have undertaken a certain amount of research regarding pricing, options, warranties, etc. depending on the product or service prior to contacting a vendor, they still must to be guided by the seller. If buyers had every fact about a product or service advantage available to them, there would be little use for a sales team, and they would simply buy when they were ready. 

Since this is not the typical case, sellers must educate buyers on the particular product or service they are selling to help buyers make informed decisions. Part of the B2B sales process should be to prepare sales reps with significant and sufficient information that is highly useful to prospective customers. An educational approach versus a hard sell can guide a buyer into making a comfortable purchasing decision.

5. Tell Great Stories

B2B buyers appreciate being educated on benefits, data, etc., but they also like hearing stories in which they can place themselves in similar situations facing similar challenges. When stories are shared, buyers can better visualize what is being offered, what they will be purchasing, and what benefits will be received. Customers love hearing success stories how another business used the product or service they are contemplating purchasing.

Final Note

In the highly competitive space of B2B sales, sales processes must constantly work to be effective and successful for a business. Sales do not go to just any company. Sales go to businesses with the best sales process. Businesses should analyze and revise their sales process with the ultimate goal of generating higher revenues with a more efficient process and productive sales team.