You have a product or service that you sell to other businesses, so it only makes sense that you’re searching for the best B2B sales strategy to crush the competition.
I work with business leaders of all stripes on go-to-market strategies. And these strategies always have outbound sales at their foundation. The truth is, you simply can’t beat the immediacy and power of direct selling when the right b2b sales strategy is deployed.
Follow this five-step strategy and watch your sales numbers shoot through the roof.
Steps to a Winning B2B Sales Strategy
Step 1 – Create Your Buyer Persona
According to HubSpot, a Buyer Persona is a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” In other words, this is you digging into past buyers of your product or service, coming up with a picture of who they are, and filling in any gaps with educated assumptions.
So management consulting firms with annual revenue of $10M+ buy your SaaS offer. Great, this is a good start. Now who specifically in the company is your buyer? The CMO, CTO, Director of Sales? Someone else entirely? Good, now we’re getting somewhere. What is this person’s main pain point? Have they tried alternative solutions to your offer already? Perfect.
Now get real nitty-gritty if you can. What are their hobbies? Where do they like to eat? Beer or wine? Coffee or tea? When it comes to nailing your buyer persona, the more specific, the better.
Now find a stock photo of someone who looks like your buyer and write their “persona” characteristics beneath. Fun, right? Now tape this on your wall for your SDRs and sales reps to see every single day. And if you think your ideal buyer is too varied to fit in a neat little box like this, then you could do a better job of “niching down” and selling to only one type of buyer.
Step 2 – Train Your Reps on Your Product
If you want to go to market with any success, the best b2b sales strategy includes a good amount of training. Set aside and budget at least one week every year to run your sales reps through the ins and outs of your product. Make it fun and engaging. If you can get authentic buy-in from your sales team, in turn they will ultimately get authentic buy-in from your prospects.
Training tactics include:
- Salesperson sit-ins on demos and pitches
- Reading through customer testimonials and case studies
- Mix of in-person and online module training
- In-house workshops, rolling up sleeves with product
- Incentivize performance even in training (awards, prizes, etc.)
When my sales team can solve for the customer by connecting specific benefits with specific pain points, the product or service practically sells itself. And this type of nuanced understanding comes from days and weeks of training and interacting with the product/service.
Step 3: Dial, Dial, Dial!
At the core of every b2b strategy is cold calling. Love it or hate it, picking up the phone and making cold calls is the single most effective way to increase sales.
If you’re a growing company, you should have a team of sales development representatives (SDRs). Your SDRs should be setting appointments all day long for your closers to clean up on sales calls.
Each one of your SDRs can make upwards of 50 – 100 calls per day. Put them on a sales dialer and unleash them on a lead list. Even a small team of three SDRs can make 1,500 calls per week or 6,000 calls per month. If you’re converting in the 1% range (very conservative) on a high-ticket item (let’s call it high-ticket SaaS), that’s 60 sales in a month and potentially hundreds of thousands or even millions in revenue.
If you don’t yet have a team of SDRs, I recommend picking up the phone yourself and making calls. This will help you to better understand your buyers, their main objections, and other important selling points. Besides, sales are the lifeblood of your business. If you don’t have any leads coming in, you have nothing better to do than dial. If this frightens or overwhelms you, then I recommend reaching out to me. We can put your sales on auto-pilot and book you solid with qualified sales appointments.
Step 4: Qualify Your Prospects. Seriously.
Ever heard of the acronym B.A.N.T.? It stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. You need alignment on each of these before a sales appointment is scheduled. After all, you wouldn’t want to sit down and pitch someone who doesn’t a) need your product, b) have the authority to sign on the dotted line, or c) have any money to spend.
So on the initial cold call, it’s important to ask pointed questions and listen. One of the most frustrating things in sales is going into a sales demo or appointment with a Manager or Director who doesn’t have the decision-making authority to make the purchase. Thankfully, these points of qualification are ultra-easy to cover if your SDRs follow some type of script (though not robotically).
Be sure to ask your prospects:
|Questions to Ask||Reason for Asking|
|Their budget for a solution like yours||Budget|
|If they are a decision-maker||Authority|
|Where they’re at in the search phase||Timing|
|If they’ve tried other solutions in the past||Need|
|How quickly they expect to see results||Timing|
|When they plan on making a decision||Timing|
Step 5: Sell Using S.A.L.E.
I developed a methodology called S.A.L.E. It stands for Speak Authoritatively, Listen Empathetically. It works like a charm when selling to the c-suite. Use it yourself, and consider teaching it to your team.
First, speak with confidence and authority, like you belong there (because you do). When speaking authoritatively, be sure to leverage tonality so that your prospect hangs on your every word. This takes practice, no doubt. That’s why I always recommend drilling this day and night until it comes second nature.
Next, listening empathetically means exactly how it sounds. Truly give your prospect your undivided attention — your only job is to listen while they’re speaking. Too many sales people get sly by formulating responses and interjections in their minds while the prospect is basically giving them ALL the information they would ever need to close the deal … if they would only listen. So ask poignant questions, and listen with an ear to understand. What are my prospect’s biggest pain points? What is her biggest fear? Where does she see herself in the bigger story? Listen empathetically.
I’ve found that when you put S.A.L.E. to work, the sales meeting unfolds in a natural and almost collaborative way. You become a trusted advisor, someone who has their best interest in mind. And when it comes time to ask for the sale, don’t be too surprised if they say “send me the contract” right away.
Other Things to Consider in Your B2B Sales Strategy
Of course, there are loads of other things you should consider to stack the deck in your favor. Here are a few that come to mind:
- Understand the b2b sales cycle can be long. Especially for high-ticket deals, you may need to court your prospect for weeks or several months before you get ink on paper. Patience is a virtue. Plus, so much of sales is about relationship building. Build the relationship over time, earn your prospect’s trust, and you’re almost guaranteed to close more deals.
- Referrals are huge for your b2b sales strategy. Ask existing clients or customers for specific names of decision makers from other companies. You’d be surprised how many hot leads you’ll get out of this tactic.
- Create lots of rich content, consistently. Anytime a prospect is remotely considering working with your company, you better believe they get on your website and look for more information. Keeping an active blog is the best way to show your authority in the space and generally stay top-of-mind with prospects as you share new content.
- Track and measure your sales performance. This can’t be understated; you must track your team’s outbound calls (volume), conversations had, meetings booked, lost deals, won deals, etc. etc. Track everything and visit the numbers often. Pivot accordingly.
- Stay the course, trust the process. Stick with a solid b2b sales strategy for at least six months to see how it performs. The calls you’re putting in today might not generate revenue until three months or six months from now. You don’t want to be the miner who quits digging when he’s only three feet to gold. Continue to show up, and don’t throw in the towel when the going gets tough.
Last Words on b2b Selling Strategy
Whether you’re thinking about overhauling your sales team or just want to optimize for better performance, this sales strategy is highly effective and works across every industry.
If you leave one of the steps in the process out, no matter how seemingly insignificant it is, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. For instance, step 4 “Qualify Your Prospects” might seem trivial, but if you don’t do it, you’ll probably waste tens of thousands of dollars sending your top closers to unqualified sales appointments that have no chance of converting.
Follow the steps in this ultimate b2b sales strategy guide, in the sequence I lay them out, and report back with your progress and success. And of course, if it all seems too demanding or overwhelming, just get in touch and I’ll put your lead gen on auto-pilot and put qualified sales appointments on your calendar on demand. Now you can direct your attention to growing your company again.
Until next time…