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How to Master B2B Sales (+ Strategy, Techniques and Funnel)

Will Cannon
April 15, 2020
How to Master B2B Sales
Table of Contents

Sales plays a key role in any business. Your hard-working sales department will generate revenue for your business while they forge close ties between your business and your customers.

If you sell to other businesses, you need to learn how to master B2B sales. Then you can guide your team to glory.

We’re here to help. In this post, we’re going to make you a B2B sales master by covering the following:

  1. How B2B sales differs from B2C sales
  2. How to build a strong B2B sales strategy
  3. What the B2B sales funnel looks like
  4. Proven B2B sales techniques you can use
  5. B2B sales resources you can access today

Let’s get started!

What Is B2B Sales (and B2C Sales)?

Salespeople have a common goal: sell their products and services to create value for their prospects. But since that audience isn’t always the same, sales is divided into two key camps: business-to-business (B2B) sales and business-to-customer (B2C) sales.

The names of these two distinct areas are very descriptive: B2B refers to sales that happen between businesses, while B2C refers to businesses that sell directly to customers.

This distinction is important to make because your mode of sales will have a huge impact on the strategies and tactics you use along the way.

B2B sales is unique because salespeople often engage in more complex sales for higher order values. And the sales cycles are typically much longer in B2B sales than B2C sales.

In other words, businesses operating in the B2B space need to adopt long-term strategies and use a sophisticated stack of tech tools, in order to close deals and boost their revenues.

B2B and B2C salespeople also need specific skill sets. For instance, B2B salespeople must have a results-driven approach to sales and communicate with their prospects in a confident, persuasive demeanor.

How to Craft Your B2B Sales Strategy (Step by Step)

Now that we’ve painted a clearer picture of what we mean by B2B sales, let’s explore the steps you should take to put together a great sales strategy.

1. Define your ideal customer.

The first step to crafting a great B2B sales strategy is defining your ideal customer. A clear picture of your ideal customer will help you better understand their expectations and pain points. You’ll also concentrate your efforts on viable prospects.

There are a few techniques you’ll want to use to define your ideal customer profile. Here’s a look at the perfect blend:

I. Describe your ideal customer.

To begin, you should list the things you already know about your ideal customer. You should cover things like industry, location, size, and budget. These key data points will help you as you move forward.

II. Interview your existing customers.

To better understand your ideal customer and their motivations, you should speak with your most prominent and profitable customers. To uncover common patterns and priorities, organize small one-on-one sessions with a range of customers.

III. Dig into the data.

You should complement that qualitative data with quantitative analyses. To discover trends between your top customers, dig into your CRM. And to paint a fuller picture, gather all of this information together.

2. Explore the market.

Now that you have a clearer picture of your ideal customer, you’ll want to discover what that realistically means. In other words, dig into your specific market and uncover the number of potential customers you have out there.

You’ll want to answer these kinds of questions:

  • Where are your ideal customers?
  • Do you need to widen the definition of your ideal customer?

You can perform this research by using a number of techniques and tools. For instance, you might decide to use lead generation platforms to assess the saturation in certain marketing or read government reports about particular industries and their performances.

3. Craft your value proposition.

Now that you have a better idea of whom you’re going to sell, what their priorities are, and where they’re located, you’ll be able to craft a unique, compelling B2B value proposition.

As Drew Neisser, the CEO of marketing agency Renegade LLC shares in his special report on B2B Demand Generation, “The more products you offer, the more features you push and the more audiences you’re targeting, the more likely it is that your big idea is lost in the clutter like most logos on a NASCAR vehicle. To avoid this, B2B brands need to ruthlessly lighten their messaging chassis, stripping away all but what’s essential. This can be difficult work, but the value of having a clear value proposition is unstoppable.”

It’s important for your B2B value proposition to address the immediate concerns and expectations of your audience. Since it isn’t easy to craft a compelling value proposition, you’ll need to invest a significant amount of time and resources into this exercise.

The best B2B value proposition can help your brand stand out from your  competition and succinctly explain what you offer. For extra inspiration, be sure to check out this list of top 10 B2B value proposition examples from SmarkLabs.

SmarkLads

4. Create an engagement strategy.

Now that you have a great value proposition in hand, you’ll need to develop a strong strategy to actually engage with your potential customers.

To effectively achieve this goal, you’ll need to create a plan and list the activities you’ll take along the way. These activities should correspond to the sales funnel (which we’ll soon go through in more detail).

For instance, you should outline the way you’ll acquire your customers, as well as the strategy you’ll use to approach them and the way you’ll work on building relationships over time.

5. Generate your leads.

It’s time to act on your strategy. There are a blend of techniques you’ll want to use to generate B2B leads. Here are just some of the principal strategies you can build upon:

  • Work on SEO to generate leads.
  • Use inbound and outbound marketing techniques.
  • Leverage content marketing to connect with your B2B audience.
  • Invest in a high-quality lead generation platform.

6. Build your relationships.

Once you’ve acquired your leads, it’s time to nurture those relationships and build a symbiotic partnership. The exact methods you’ll use to nourish your relationships will vary, depending on the research you performed in the earlier steps.

For instance, some B2B customers prefer in-person meetings, while others prefer a more hands-off approach that’s focused on receiving the right content at the right time.

7. Collect and analyze data.

Finally, it’s important for you to constantly collect and analyze data. This step will help you monitor the performance of your B2B sales strategy and make sure it’s getting the results your business needs.

What Does the B2B Sales Funnel Look Like?

If your B2B sales strategy is going to deliver, you’re going to need a great understanding of the B2B sales funnel. This funnel helps you plot the customer journey and understand which interventions you can make to push your customers further along the funnel.

Here’s a look at the five key stages you’ll find in the classic sales funnel:

  1. Awareness

At this stage of the funnel, your ideal customers have no idea what your business does. In some cases, these customers might not even understand why they need the solution you’re trying to offer.

During this stage, it’s important to work hard to attract the attention of your potential customers, cement yourself as an authority, and clearly communicate your value proposition.

  1. Consideration

Once you’ve secured the awareness of your ideal customers, it’s important for you to help them consider your product or service as a viable solution to their pain point.

To accomplish this goal, you’ll need to share important resources along the way and try to initiate contact with your potential customers. These meetings will give your B2B salespeople the opportunity to better understand the needs of your customers and present your solution.

  1. Preference

Now that your solution has earned the consideration of your potential customers, it’s time to convince them that your solution is head and shoulders above the rest. 

To become the preferred supplier for your potential customers, you’ll again want to rely on great content and fantastic sales techniques

Let’s say you have a potential customer named Jonas. If he’s in the preference stage, he’s very close to making a purchase.

  1. Purchase

Now that you’ve convinced Jonas that you offer the best solution to his problem, it’s time to close the deal.

You should make the purchasing process as simple and clear as possible. This tactic will reduce any friction and make sure that Jonas doesn’t abandon the purchase. Once he’s made a commitment, he’ll become a customer!

  1. Loyalty

Once you’ve secured Jonas as a customer, the journey isn’t over. It’s important that your sales and customer success teams work in perfect harmony to drive value to Jonas and secure his future business.

Once your customers have reached this stage of the sales funnel, he’ll be a loyal customer who you can rely on for repeat business over the coming years.

5 Proven B2B Sales Techniques and Tactics that Will Turn Leads into Sales

Looking for proven techniques and tactics you can use throughout your B2B sales funnel? Here’s a closer look at five proven options you can use today…

1. Target the right leads.

If your B2B sales activities are going to prove to be fruitful, it’s essential for you to target the right leads. If you fail to identify the appropriate ideal customer at the outset of the process (or falter when it comes to surfacing the right leads), you’ll waste lots of time and achieve subpar results.

As we touched on above, you’ll want to use a blend of techniques to identify the right leads. One of the most obvious tactics is using a lead generation platform, given that these tools help you filter through countless users via highly targeted filters.

Uplead
Uplead

This tactic in action

Code Red Safety is a public safety company that provides a range of services to the construction, oil and gas, and transportation industries.

The company had an organic idea of its ideal customer, but it needed a better way to reach key decision-makers. Since traditional methods weren’t a possibility, the team turned to UpLead to identify the right prospects and contact them.

Within the first 60 days of using the platform, Code Red Safety managed to secure $150,000 in new business. This usage represented a huge ROI of 46,567%, and the business secured countless new contracts.

If you want to dig deeper, be sure to read the case study today.

Getting started

To get started with this tactic, you’ll need to have a clear idea of your ideal customer. Equipped with this tool, you’ll be able to use your chosen B2B database and business contact data provider.

Getting started with UpLead is easy: To drive growth via targeted sales leads, simply start your free trial today.

2. Research your prospects.

If your salespeople are going to sell effectively, it’s critical for them to understand exactly who they’re trying to sell to. While an ideal customer profile will help you narrow your search, it’s important for you to augment that profile with hard data and important insights

For instance, the best salespeople will review the latest news and take long looks at their prospects’ websites and social media profiles. This tactic can help them strike up new conversations and show they care.

This tactic in action

Business case studies

Sales augmentation is a very valuable exercise that can have a positive impact on your conversion rate. This case study from Barclays shines a light on how this banking giant used research to improve its student account offer.

Countless businesses around the world will augment their ideal customer profile through research. That additional insight can make it much easier for salespeople to sell effectively and forge strong links.

Getting started

In general, there are a few steps you can take to research your prospects. The exact process will vary from one business to the next, depending on your industry and ideal customer.

In this post, zoominfo provides a handy checklist you can use to improve the results of your sales prospect research. It’s broken down into these kinds of categories:

  • Business basics
  • Leadership information
  • Financing standing
  • Technographic information
  • Purchase behaviors
  • News and trigger events
  • Industry background
  • Competitive insight

3. Understand pain points

The best salespeople are able to identify and leverage customer pain points, in order to speak directly to customers and their needs. While salespeople will often improve over time, you can use a number of techniques and resources to better understand pain points.

For instance, you could decide to use survey software or incorporate this type of research into your initial calls with your prospects. Whichever tactic you decide to use, it’s certainly worth it to understand your customer pain points.

This tactic in action

Wordstream is an online advertising platform. In this guide to customer pain points, the author explains that this company developed its own initiative to discover what made its prospects click.

In the case study, we’re shown how the advertising platform decided to survey more than 200 internet marketing agencies. This initiative helped the company collect useful, quantifiable data they used to shape future initiatives.

Getting started

Again, your process for identifying and interpreting customer pain points will vary according to your ideal customer and industry. To get started, it’s often helpful to divide your attention into these kinds of key categories:

  • Financial pain points
  • Functionality pain points
  • Productivity pain points
  • Support pain points

This type of methodology will help you narrow your search and focus your attention. You could use this narrower focus to guide your conversations with your existing customers or structure your surveys.

As you perform this work more and more, you’ll inevitably find that patterns start emerging, and your customers will only have a limited series of pain points.

4. Produce and share case studies

To quickly move your prospects through the sales funnel, you’ll need to produce and share pieces of high-quality content with them. For instance, you could produce blog posts and testimonials, but few materials can measure up to the impact of case studies.

A great case study tells a compelling customer success story, so your prospects can picture themselves benefiting from your solution. This dynamic is powerful, and you should  consistently try to leverage it.

 

This tactic in action

Microsoft

You could find inspiration in lots of amazing case studies. Practically every business produces some kind of case study, since it’s an ideal way to show how their product or service positively impacts customers.

Microsoft Customer Stories are great ways to see how case studies can be used to appeal to prospects. Since there are a huge range of stories on offer there, you’ll be able to find one that resonates with your business.

Getting started

To create a compelling case study, the most essential thing you need is a customer success story! First, you’ll need to secure the permission of your customer, in order to use his or her story in your promotional materials. Then you’ll need to collaborate with marketing to create an attractive case study.

Your marketing team can use a wide range of design and productivity tools to quickly create amazing case studies. You might also decide to store that case study within a Digital Asset Management tool, in order for your salespeople to be able to quickly access it whenever they need it.

5. Put a calendar link in your email signature.

It’s critical for your salespeople to make it as easy as possible for your prospects to get in touch with them and move their relationship to the next level. By placing a calendar link in their email signature, they can simplify this process. 

When it comes to sales tactics, this tactic is a very quick win, and it’s something you can implement within a few hours. There are lots of simple ways to achieve this goal. You could even add a simple text hyperlink.

This tactic in action

If you’ve had contact with salespeople yourself, you know this tactic is common. However, every salesperson out there doesn’t use it. But if you want to give yourself an important advantage and make life easy for your prospects, this tactic is a great way to do it.

Getting started

Hubstop

It’s easy to insert calendar invites into your emails. HubSpot has put together a fantastic guide to help you get started. Since this guide covers every email client, so you can adjust it to whichever one you use.

Further B2B Sales Resources

To secure B2B success in today’s complex sales environment, it’s critical for you to use the latest tools and resources. Here’s a closer look at some of the best B2B sales books, training courses, and tools…

5 B2B Sales Books to Learn More About B2B Sales

Looking to compound your own knowledge or recommend a killer resource to your team members? Here are five of the best B2B sales books…

1. Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline – Marylou Tyler

 Predictable Prospecting

Described as a “powerhouse of a book,” this guide shows readers how to generate new opportunities, consistently build sales, and focus on high revenue accounts. The book has also been hailed as “Silicon Valley’s sales bible.”

2. Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook That Drives B2B Sales – Samantha Stone Unleash Possible

In order for sales professionals to enhance their results, it’s critical for them to understand B2B marketing. This marketing playbook shows marketers and sales professionals how to get great results, even in the most complex selling environments.

3. The B2B Sales Blueprint: A Hands-On Guide to Generating More Leads, Closing More Deals, and Working Less – Dan Englander

The B2B Sales Blueprint

Looking to triple your sales in 12 months? This B2B sales blueprint offers a five-phase plan that will help you master lead generation, sales, and overall productivity. And this practical guide will provide you with a range of templates and useful tips.

4. The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need – Anthony Iannarino

The Only Sales Guide

This bestselling sales book offers up a suite of research- and experience-backed sales strategies you can use to secure fantastic B2B sales results. This book is based around the strategies and tactics Iannarino developed over the course of his career.

5. : Learn How B2B Sales Leaders at HubSpot, Salesloft, and Other Top Companies Use Data to Grow Faster – Clearbit

They say data is the new oil, so businesses must use it to fuel their B2B sales activities. In this guide, you’ll be whisked through the ways personalization, automation, and smart management can help your team save time, improve conversion rates, and close more deals.

5 B2B Sales Training Courses for Your Team

Looking for an excellent sales training course for yourself or your team members? Here are five of the best B2B sales training courses available…

1. B2B Sales – LinkedIn Learning

Learning

This B2B LinkedIn Learning course can help your sales team understand a typical day in B2B sales, learn how to meet with prospects, discover techniques for handling objections, and find out how to close the deal. This course also features a range of quizzes, which will allow your participants to compound their learning.

2. Accelerate Your Sales – Jill Konrath

Accelerate Your Sales - Jill Konrath

Jill Konrath is one of the most prominent voices in the world of B2B sales. She offers a range of sales training workshops, which you can use to help your sales team deep-dive into key areas of sales and elevate their performances.

3. Sales Prospecting Advanced Techniques – Sales Scripter

Sales Scripter

This free sales training course can help you put together a great B2B sales strategy. Over the course of this series of videos, you’ll learn how to build a value proposition, leverage pain points, and much more. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, this is it.

4. Iannarino Sales Accelerator – Anthony Lannarino

 Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is a famed international speaker, author, and sales leader. This sales expert offers a wealth of B2B sales training materials and insights on his website. Alongside lots of great blog content, you’ll find out how to book Anthony as a speaker.

5. Sales Presentation Training – Sales Readiness Group

Sales Readiness Group

The Sales Readiness Group is a trusted provider of engaging, high-quality sales training materials. This provider offers a range of high-impact sales training courses that can empower your sales team to develop new skills and get better results.

B2B Sales Tools for Each Stage of the Funnel

If you’re going to succeed, you’re going to need the right stack of tools. Here’s a look at the best B2B sales tools for each stage of the funnel…

UpLead – Target the right leads to generate awareness

UpLead

UpLead is a powerful lead generation tool that makes it easy for businesses to uncover the best prospects, get in touch with them right away, and increase sales.

Key features

  • Peruse a robust contact search.
  • Browse through companies.
  • Enrich your own data.
  • Verify data in real time.

Mailchimp – Earn consideration through engagement

Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an all-in-one marketing platform that will help you get your solution in front of your potential customers. Since this tool offers multichannel support, you can generate interest and share your value proposition.

Key features

  • Create landing pages.
  • Use sign-up forms to collect leads.
  • Create mobile and web apps.
  • Connect with your prospects across channels.

Zendesk – Become the provider of choiceZendesk

Zendesk is a customer support ticketing system and CRM. You can use this tool for support, sales, and customer engagement. This tool offers a host of features you can use to build stronger relationships and become the provider of choice.

Key features

  • Offer an internal helpdesk.
  • Win customers over with sales management tools.
  • Benefit from enhanced analytics and reporting.

PandaDoc – Close deals with proposal templates

PandaDoc is a platform that makes it easy for you to improve your deal workflow and unlock interesting insights. It will help you quickly close deals and make sure you’re delivering a seamless process to your remote customers.

Key features

  • Quickly create attractive documents.
  • Integrate eSignatures.
  • Receive automatic notifications.
  • Access analytics and reporting options.

SurveyMonkey – Survey to secure loyalty

SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey bills itself as the world’s most popular online survey tool. Businesses can use this service to quickly spin up new surveys and connect with their customers, in order to secure their loyalty.

Key features

  • Quickly create attractive surveys. 
  • Seamlessly collect responses. 
  • Analyze and assess data.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this piece helps you get your B2B sales strategy off the ground. If you use this suite of free tools and resources, you’ll give yourself a big boost, and you’ll set your sales team up for success.

Ready to access accurate and real-time b2B data? Start your free UpLead trial today. Then you can peruse validated contact information that’s augmented by built-in email verification and many other features.

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