Common questions we hear in our sales process include, “How will this work for my B2B business?” and, “How do you prove ROI for B2B as opposed to B2C businesses?”
It’s true, B2B sales poses its own set of challenges, such as: resistance to change, multiple influencers and decision makers, and longer buying cycles.
B2B Sales Challenges That Can Slow Your Team Down
B2B companies live in an incredibly competitive environment where even the slightest hiccup can throw you into last place. And there are plenty of hiccups there to throw off your game.
Here are just a few challenges that B2B sales teams contend with:
The Sales Cycle Is Too Long.
Sales cycles vary from industry to industry, but the general consensus is that it should run as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
But that can be difficult to accomplish when you have leads who aren't sales qualified, skeptical prospects, and defensive buyers. All of these negative interactions can drag the process out and burn out your sales team.
Prospects Fall Out of Touch Easily.
Every salesperson is familiar with the prospect that acts excited and eager to begin business at the start then vanishes into another dimension shortly after.
Whether it be because they're not ready to move on their purchase or you're not following up in the way that you should, losing touch with potential customers is a common sales obstacle.
Generating B2B Leads Isn't Easy.
Probably the biggest obstacle sales teams face is that no one actually knows where most of B2B leads come from. Without specific details, it's hard to know what aspects of your strategies should be improved or highlighted.
There are plenty of other challenges that negatively impact B2B sales efforts. They can stagnate growth and become a drain on resources.
Yet, B2B sales are still flourishing, and more and more service businesses are popping up every day; they must be doing something right.
10 Tips to Push Your B2B Sales Through the Roof
Most audiences are correct in thinking that you have to approach B2B sales differently than you would B2C sales. With the right tactics, success can be achieved for B2B companies.
Below are 10 strategies to help increase B2B sales in 2020.
1. Leverage Both Your Inbound Sales and Marketing Strategies.
You have a blog. Your social feeds are buzzing. You’ve made dozens of offers and tools for your prospects... but you're still not closing the deal. This is common for companies that go "all in" with inbound marketing strategies. The real question is, are you using inbound sales strategies as well?
Your sales team should have a well built process, content library, email sequences/templates, and a CRM set up to track progress with each and every prospect.
This way, marketing and sales can work together to find the gaps throughout the entire process, gain valuable information that is exchanged during sales emails and calls, and then improve where necessary.
2. Invest in the Power of Video.
When multiple decision makers are part of the equation, sharing information becomes difficult when you're trying to make sure outside opinions don’t sway someone in the wrong direction.
For example, video has been used for various parts of the B2B sales cycle:
- Demo or explainer videos: these videos should accurately show how your service works and why it is beneficial in their business goals.
- Client testimonial videos: show a more personal approach to your business.
- Buyer persona-specific videos: cater to the decision maker's specific job title. Each decision maker will have a different set of pain points and priorities. While the CEO may care about the ROI it will provide, an IT manager may be worried about specific use cases and how it works with their existing setup.
3. Research, Research, Research.
While you may think you know who your ideal customer is, have you actually done the research to prove this is true?
Conducting interviews with existing clients to understand how they found your company, what challenges they were facing, and why they chose to do business with you is incredibly powerful for lead generation.
Listen to the buzzwords they use when answering questions; turning their comments and challenges into content enables you to now know what will be useful because you heard it from one of your customers.
4. Strategize Using Several Different Traffic-Generating Channels.
B2B sales typically rely on multiple people signing off on a decision, therefore, it is important to find out where each of these individuals spend their time.
While social media may bring visitors to your site, email marketing may result in increased engagement with offer downloads.
You shouldn’t just focus on digital channels, either. Trade shows, industry events, networking events, and outbound initiatives can all be contributing factors to your success.
It is important to track these initiatives in your marketing automation software as well to make sure you're capitalizing on bringing in leads from different areas.
5. Understand Your Real Sales Cycle Timeline.
B2B sales cycles are typically much longer than B2C cycles, so, you need to take this in to account in your marketing and sales planning
If you have 80 percent of your leads about to close, but nothing is in the middle of your pipeline, you're going to have a prosperous month one and then go on to month three or four with almost nothing because you weren’t building your pipeline.
Make sure to strategize based on your sales cycle so that your entire sales funnel is being nurtured at all times.
6. Educate Your Prospects – Not Everyone is Created Equal.
Most companies have clients that fit into various personas – each with a different need. There is no “one size fits all” method for sales today. Modern sales is about focusing on educating each prospect with specific content targeted to their needs.
Think about their company and what their needs are; then, you can focus on helping them solve their problems, not just pitching your services.
7. Do Thought Leadership the Right Way.
Thought leadership is one of the biggest buzzwords in online marketing. Done right, though, it really does make a profound difference in sales timing and value.
Why? Sooner or later, buyers must move beyond the “gathering information” phase and compare your brand with competitors.
This is when it’s time to establish not only what you do better, but why it’s better.
Consider these powerful persuasion tactics:
- Quantitative research showing your product’s effectiveness (preferably by a third party).
- Endorsements from influential names in the prospect’s industry or area of specialization.
- Interviews or other content featuring your company’s top leaders in their own words.
Each of these approaches goes beyond the norm by contributing social proof – enhancing the sense your message is truly groundbreaking by using others’ prestige.
When these techniques are used together, they make your solutions more likely to be chosen over your rivals’.
8. Give Them Options for How to Contact You.
Not only are your prospects at different stages of the buyers journey, but prospects are also going to want to communicate in different ways.
Do they prefer email, a quick phone call, scheduling a meeting time, or using a chat bot to communicate?
Businesses have already started to use Facebook Messenger bots as a way to provide customer service to their prospects and clients – and this is only going to get bigger throughout 2020 and beyond. Find how your prospects like to communicate and converse with them there.
9. Make It Easy.
Everyone knows time is limited. Everyone is glued to their smartphones with no time to even look up.
To get your message across, you need to find your target market on the channels they live and search in, provide them valuable content, and then provide value for a very specific need.
This is where your content library is key. Creating resources (e.g., blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.) that fit each one of your personas' challenges can make your visitors' lives easier, which can potentially entice them to buy from you.
10. Look Into Paid SEO and Bidding on Top Keywords.
Although inbound marketing has a focus on organic traffic and SEO, small businesses have the option of using paid advertising strategies to increase sales. You can leverage this kind of strategy if you're looking to see results quickly.
Also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, paid search involves bidding on particular keywords so business webpages appear in a prominent place on search engine result pages.
Paid Search vs. Organic
Paid search is a boon to many small businesses that want to show up on relevant searches that make them more visible to their target audience.
However, paid search is more costly than simply engaging in standard inbound marketing techniques.
Businesses tracking key performance metrics will likely notice that cost per click or cost per conversion of each lead will be greater for paid than for organic, where you build relationships with leads naturally and having them come to you.
How to Avoid High Costs on Keyword Bidding
In addition to the added cost of PPC, businesses must ensure that they are bidding on keywords effectively.
High competition keywords mean more money put toward bidding, making small businesses unlikely to afford keywords coveted by larger companies.
To prevent paying too much money on keywords, small businesses should look at long tail keywords, or keywords that are made up of three or more words.
These long tail keywords are less expensive for bids and may even allow your targeted audience to find you more efficiently because queries are more specific.
Small businesses can use free tools like Keyword Planner available via their Google Ads account to determine the popularity and relevance of certain keywords that describe their:
Products and services
Questions related to customer problems
While B2B sales brings its own set of challenges, there are also just as many opportunities for success.
It is a hot topic in the industry and, I think, we as marketers, are going to see a lot of new trends throughout 2020. How are you going to increase your B2B sales this year?