Marketing and sales in B2B are different: the funnel is more complicated, with more intermediate steps and negotiations with specialists at different levels. Here are common mistakes B2B sales managers make.
Selling to Companies, Not People
B2B is a business-to-business segment. But what buys in this segment isn’t some abstract organization, but the people working in it. First, you need to understand what human and professional problems the product solves.
Then you need to figure out who makes the final decision to close the deal. In companies, it’s not always the same person who will use the product. For example, CRM is bought to make it easier for the head of the sales department to control transactions and improve department efficiency. But the final word may be for an IT director, who will introduce the service, or the financial director, who allocates the money. In any case, it’s a person, not a company, who buys the product. So, you have to focus on the objectives and motivations of the person when selling.
Ignoring the Qualifications of Buyers
On average, only 25% of potential customers are ready to close the deal. The remaining 75% are non-targeted customers, people who are just interested. It turns out that sales and marketing departments spend a significant portion of resources on those who won’t buy anyway. To prevent this, the business introduces the practice of qualifying potential buyers, or leads.
To do this, during initial contact with customers, the business tries to get as much information from them as possible to help understand their desire, willingness and ability to buy.
For example, you might ask several questions when you first call a customer:
- How quickly the customer plans to close the deal.
- What happens if he or she doesn’t make it in that time frame.
- How much product his business needs.
- Who makes the decision on the deal.
- How long the contract negotiation process takes.
Additionally, you can research the lead in open sources: find out if the client has any litigation with contractors, how long the business has been in business, who its customers are.
Depending on the answers, the lead is assigned points. The result is a sorted list of potential clients: you can spend salespeople’s time on those who are most likely to make a deal with the right check.
Usually qualification is handled by companies where the transaction process is long, and managers have to spend time making unique commercial offers. Sometimes the first conversation is replaced with an online questionnaire – it depends on how established the flow of incoming calls is and how interested the leads are in the deal.
Working Without Explaining the Purpose of the Product
In the sales segment, the end consumer usually understands at once why they need a product or service, and what results to expect. The situation may be different on the B2B market – often salespeople cannot briefly articulate what they sell, what benefits the product brings.
Let’s say a person enters a PlayAmo casino. Without too much explanation, it’s clear why he needs this product – to rest after work. The benefit of the product – you will forget about your daily problems. The company doesn’t need to explain the essence of the casino, you can go straight to the details.
Another example: a company sells a specialized CRM to another business. In this case, the seller should understand: not all potential customers may not understand the CRM. Maybe they have been using an Excel spreadsheet for a long time and have no idea how to work differently. The task of the seller of a complex product is to find out if the client understands the essence of the product, and only then explain the essence or go on to the nuances.
And the essence should be formulated succinctly and simply – a client doesn’t want to spend hours digging into complicated logic chains or look through dozens of pages of presentations. He wants simple explanations. For example, in the case of CRM, the explanation might be: “This program is needed to save time – the salesperson talked to the customer, pressed a button, and the service generated the contract, sent it, issued an invoice, and tracked the receipt of money.”
Focusing on the Product, Not the Customer’s Needs
The classic sales technique comprises 5 steps: make contact with the customer and identify their needs, then make a presentation, work off objections and close the deal. Important: You should not make a presentation about the product in general, but focus the client’s attention on the nuances of the product that will help solve his needs.
It would be a mistake to tell the client about all the positive features of the product. First, it would be a waste of the customer’s time. Secondly, it will complicate the decision-making process – the person may think he or she is overpaying for features he or she doesn’t need.
We can draw an analogy with selling a car: if the client doesn’t want a TV in the headrests and a refrigerator in the trunk, he is unlikely to want to buy such a package. More likely, he will ask the manager to find an easier car.
Making an Offer With a Single Option
In retail, there is a technique that helps increase the sales of the desired product. To do this, it is necessary to put two other products on the shelf next to the product: one more expensive, the other cheaper. Customers have a sense of choice, they begin to think not about whether they need the product, but about which product is more profitable. As a result, the number of transactions increases. Usually they buy more goods at an average price.
This approach can be used in B2B as well. To do this, a manager can prepare a commercial offer to the client with different options for cooperation. For example, analyze the buyer’s situation, offer a budget option, a more or less average price option, and an opportunity without saving money. This approach has advantages.
The customer feels a special approach – his situation is studied, he is made a personal offer.
The client begins to trust the salesperson – he was offered a choice, which means the manager doesn’t just want to make more money, but is willing to help.
More chances to hit the client’s budget. The only option may be too expensive for the client.
Most people have a negative attitude toward cold calls. It’s important to analyze whether aggressive promotion is really effective for the business, especially in the long run. People get annoyed if some unnecessary product is foisted on them.
Another option is to find out what the customer needs, form an opinion about the product through advertising and marketing, and then work with customers who have realized the usefulness and necessity of the product or service.
Acting Only According to a Template
Algorithms and scripts are common sales tools that help speed up processes in common transactions. Problems begin when a salesperson in any non-standard situation continues to act according to a pattern, ignoring customer questions and any difficulties.
The manager should make the sales scheme a flexible tool: monitor non-standard situations, update the rules of conduct of the consultant in different deals, make lists of questions and answers. Any salesperson has to understand how to act if the situation starts to change and there is no suitable instruction in the scripts: what are the limits of his responsibility, what decisions he can make and what to promise the client, when he has to go to consult with the manager.