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The Dealfront Guide to B2B Sales

This article is also available in German.

Guide to B2B Sales

Imagine a world without the products and services that bring joy, convenience, and functionality to our lives. Now, take a moment to ponder the chain of events that leads to the availability of those cherished items. B2B sales, short for business-to-business sales, form the very essence of this chain.

By understanding B2B sales, companies can make better deals and build strong relationships. In this post, we’re going to look into what makes a winning B2B sales strategy. This includes building a great sales team and implementing best practices that offer better chances of turning leads into paying customers.

Key concepts of B2B sales

Building strong relationships is vital in any buyer-salesperson relationship. Cultivating trust and rapport is the foundation for long-term partnerships, so you need to nail effective communication and understand the unique needs of every business you want to work with.

Another important element is providing value and solving problems. B2B buyers are often looking for solutions that can enhance their operations or address specific challenges they face.

Demonstrating how your product or service can meet these needs and deliver tangible benefits is a cornerstone of successful B2B sales. This involves showcasing how your offering can improve efficiency, reduce costs, and/or increase revenue for the buyer's business.

This process is different from what businesses that sell directly to consumers do.

The difference between B2B and B2C

Business-to-consumer, or B2C, is when businesses sell to individual customers. In B2C, companies are focused on what the consumer wants; in B2B, companies want to show buyers how they can help their business.

That’s why B2B sales often involve longer processes and building relationships since businesses make bigger decisions. Consumer-oriented sales, on the other hand, are usually quicker and focus on appealing to personal wants and needs.

Communication styles vary, too. B2B communication is more detailed because B2B companies need to make informed choices. But when you’re selling directly to consumers, communication is more emotional, aiming to connect with personal desires.

The goals of B2B and B2C sales are unique. B2B aims for lasting partnerships and solving business challenges. B2C wants to satisfy individual customers. Even the sales cycles are different. In this post, we'll focus on the B2B cycle.

Understanding the B2B sales cycle

The B2B sales cycle is like steps in a dance between two companies. First, you find potential customers who need your product. Then, you talk with them to learn what they need. Next, you demonstrate how your product helps their business.

After that, you negotiate the deal and agree on the price. Once they say yes, you seal the deal. But it doesn’t end there, because you need to keep nurturing them after they’ve signed the deal. Keep in mind that the average B2B sales cycle can take 4 to 8 months.

Understanding this longer sales cycle helps you know where you are and what comes next in the B2B sales process. But before you find B2B companies to sell to, you need to start somewhere.

B2B sales channels

There are different ways to find B2B customers. Say you’re looking for a go-to-market strategy for a new product. One way is through direct sales, where your team talks directly to ideal customers through cold calling. Another way is using third parties like distributors or wholesalers who buy from you and then sell to the customers.

Online stores and marketplaces are also channels where customers can find and buy your stuff.

Other B2B sales channels include:

  • Social media

  • Email marketing

  • Trade shows

  • Conferences

  • Referrals 

  • Salespeople 

Choosing the right channels depends on who your customers are and how they like to buy things. But it’s not enough to know where to sell from. There’s a whole process to master.

The B2B sales process in 7 steps

Mastering the B2B sales process is like having a roadmap for your sales journey. You wouldn't set off on a road trip without knowing where you're going. In the world of B2B sales, having a clear grasp of each stage is essential for a successful journey.

Imagine this process as a funnel. At the top, you pour in potential customers, and as you go down, you narrow in on the ones who are truly interested and ready to make a purchase. This B2B sales funnel guides you through the journey from finding potential leads to closing deals. It ensures that you're focused on the right steps at the right time.

Sales Funnel Dealfront

The typical sales funnel in B2B

Here’s what it looks like in real life: 

Step 1: Prospecting

This is where you put on your detective hat. You research and find companies that could use your product or service. You look at things like their industry, size, and location. This phase also involves considering factors such as the decision-makers within these companies. Identify who holds the key to making purchasing choices, whether it's the CEO, department head, or someone else.

When you’re prospecting, you can use prospecting tools, business directories, or social media to find clues. You may also want to read industry reports, and even look into their recent news or announcements. The goal is to make a list of companies and executives that seem like a good fit for what you offer.

Step 2: Outreach

Once you have your list of leads, it's time to take that first step and make your presence known. The goal is to start a conversation. Typically, you will initiate the conversation through cold calls or personalized messages on social media.

Your initial communication serves as an introduction, but it's more than just a simple "hello." Your message should highlight the common ground you share, like a shared interest you've discovered. This could be related to their industry trends, challenges they might be facing, or recent accomplishments they've achieved.

If they show curiosity or receptiveness, it paves the way for further discussions. Now you can ask to get on a call and start exploring how your solution aligns with their needs.

With Dealfront, you can drive GDPR-compliant prospecting using public data and on-demand access, ensuring privacy and future-proof outreach strategies.

Step 3: Discovery call

After scheduling a call or meeting, you now have an opportunity to have a more in-depth conversation. During the discovery call, don’t just ask surface-level questions. Instead, delve into the heart of the matter. Inquire about their pain points, their goals, and what they're looking for in a solution.

The discovery call is an opportunity to build rapport and gather crucial information. Listening carefully is key. Focus on gaining a deeper understanding of their situation. Your goal here is to determine whether your product or service is a good fit for their specific needs—and if it is, how to best sell it to them.

Step 4: Pitching

If you think your product can fulfill the prospect's needs, go ahead and pitch your product. Pitching is your moment to shine, like stepping into the spotlight on a stage. This is where you translate your understanding of their needs into a tailored solution. And as you deliver your pitch, you're not just listing benefits. You're painting a vivid picture of the positive impact your product or service can have on their business.

The ultimate goal of your pitch is to evoke excitement and enthusiasm. It's about sparking your lead’s imagination and showing them a future where their challenges are overcome and their goals are within reach. If you craft your pitch well, you will leave a lasting impact and set the stage for a positive decision.

Step 5: Objection handling

Your pitch may be stellar, but not everyone says "yes" right away. Sometimes they have concerns or doubts. These concerns could stem from uncertainties or perceived obstacles. Your role here is to be the reassuring guide, addressing their worries and paving the way for a confident decision. You not only acknowledge their worries but also demonstrate how your product or service directly addresses them.

This step involves empathy. This means you need to understand your prospect’s point of view. If you’ve been listening actively, you will be in a better position to respond effectively and move further along in the sales process. Also, handling objections is about instilling confidence. If you have success stories, data, and evidence that can substantiate your claims, this is the best time to use them.

Step 6: Closing the deal

If you’re successful in convincing your prospect (and we hope you are), now things get serious. You and your potential customer have to work together to determine pricing, deliverables, timelines, and other vital aspects. At this point, clarity is paramount, as both sides need to know exactly what they're committing to. Once everything is in order and both parties are in agreement, the deal is sealed.

Step 7: Customer care

But after the deal is closed, the journey continues with what is often referred to as the "post-sale" or "customer onboarding" phase. This is where the transition from prospect to client takes place. Now your focus shifts from sealing the deal to delivering on your promises and building a lasting relationship.

How to build a great sales team

You have a great product or service and are ready to reach out to your prospects. What you need now is a dedicated sales department. Think of your sales team as the architects of your success.

They're the bridge between your product and potential clients, turning interest into action. And the difference between success and disappointment often boils down to the skills, knowledge, and attitude of your team.

Let’s look at what it takes to build a great sales team.

What are the most vital salesperson traits?

When assembling your sales team, prioritize traits like active listening, empathy, and adaptability. Great B2B salespeople put themselves in the customer's shoes. They understand concerns, making the customer feel heard and valued. Look for people who listen well because they will respond thoughtfully and address customer needs effectively.

Ideal Sales Person Traits

Traits of an ideal salesperson

Keeping in mind that the sales landscape changes, you need salespeople who can switch gears, adjust strategies, and stay ahead of market shifts. You also want to work with people who know how to negotiate. A good salesperson finds common ground during conversations with your clients, ensuring both parties feel satisfied with the deal.

Maintain high standards with ongoing training

After finding the right people to work with, you need to equip them with training that is tailored to your offering and market. Start by identifying areas where your team can improve. Assess their skills both individually and as a group to understand your training needs.

Craft training programs that address weaknesses and build on strengths. Combine workshops, webinars, role-playing, and e-learning to keep the process engaging. And speaking of engagement, encourage team members to share their expertise. This peer-to-peer learning fosters a collaborative environment and helps everyone improve.

To measure how effective your training is, simulate common sales situations. This practice allows your team to refine their skills. Remember that training doesn't end after a single session. You will need to reinforce skills through consistent follow-ups and refreshers. Also, keep your team informed about industry trends and changes in order to position them as knowledgeable partners to your clients.

Cater to your market with localization

Localization is like speaking the language of your customers, both literally and figuratively. Sales reps who have native skills in the language of the target market can connect better and build trust more easily. It's about going beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and instead, tailoring your strategies to speak directly to your customers in a way that resonates with them.

For instance, if you're selling software solutions to businesses in different countries, localization means adapting your product features, marketing materials, and even your sales pitch to align with the distinct needs and preferences of each country.

When you’re putting together a sales team, ensure they understand the specific business environment and practices of your target market. Ensure they are aware of industry norms, regulations, and the way business relationships are built.

Encourage your team to research the unique cultural norms and preferences of each market to avoid misunderstandings. Also, support them by tailoring your marketing materials to resonate with the leads they're working with. By doing this, you'll be formulating sales tactics unique to your business.

What are B2B sales tactics that work?

Sales tactics are about being prepared and strategic in your approach. They optimize your time, energy, and resources, increasing your chances of landing deals. Just as a craftsman needs the right tools to build, you need effective ways to address client concerns and lead them toward a decision to buy. The following B2B sales tactics provide direction and structure to your sales efforts.

Typical elements of a B2B Sales Strategy

Align sales and marketing through account-based sales

ABS (account-based sales) allows you to focus your efforts on a select group of high-value targets, rather than casting a wide net. With ABS, your sales rep first identifies specific companies that are a perfect fit for your product or service. 

Once you've chosen these targets, you tailor your sales and marketing efforts to them. You research their needs, challenges, and goals. Then you craft personalized messages and solutions that address their unique pain points.

But it’s worth mentioning that although ABS and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) are closely related, they’re different. While ABS is concerned with tailoring the sales process and engagement for individual accounts, ABM is focused on delivering personalized marketing content and campaigns. Its aim is to capture the attention and interest of specific target accounts.

They may have different focal points, but integrating both strategies can lead to a more effective and holistic approach to converting high-value accounts. Aligning B2B sales and marketing through account-based sales is like combining the skills of two experts to create a powerful B2B sales strategy. It means that your sales and marketing teams work closely together, sharing information and strategies to win over important clients.

Instead of working separately, they team up to focus on specific target accounts that have high potential. By doing this, they're like a tag team that combines their strengths to create a stronger impact. This approach ensures that both teams are on the same page and working towards the same goal, which is to land those key clients.

Create compelling content

Just as a skilled storyteller captures their audience's attention, compelling content captures the interest of potential clients. It should be relevant and informative. And it's not about pushing your product but rather about providing value.

Focus on delivering insights that resonate deeply with their challenges. This tactic starts with understanding your audience's pain points. By researching their industry, challenges, and goals, you're able to create content that speaks directly to them.

Actually, 87% of B2B buyers say that online content significantly influences their choice of vendors. With the help of your marketing team, create content that makes it easier for salespeople to work. If you have testimonials, use them. Also create case studies to give your clients a little bit of context.

This content serves as a guiding light, showing them how your product or service can be the solution they're seeking. Compelling content also demonstrates your expertise and thought leadership. When you share valuable insights, whether through blog posts, whitepapers, or videos, you position yourself as a trusted advisor. This trust forms the foundation for building strong relationships in B2B sales.

Convert cold leads into brand evangelists with social selling

It's also a good move to add a personal touch to your B2B sales efforts by building customer relationships and trust on social media platforms. Engage with potential clients on platforms like LinkedIn, X (formerly known as Twitter), or Instagram. It’s called social selling. Start by commenting on their posts, sharing relevant content, and starting meaningful conversations, you can create a genuine rapport.

Focus on being helpful and insightful rather than just pushing your products. Imagine you're giving advice to a friend. Over time, as you consistently provide value and engage in meaningful conversations, these cold leads will warm up to your brand.

As these leads become more engaged, they become your advocates. They'll start sharing your content, referring others to you, and considering your offerings when the time is right.

Get it right with B2B sales best practices

B2B sales best practices are a collection of proven strategies and approaches that have been refined over time. They are the result of learning from past successes and failures. By adhering to these practices, you're setting yourself up for several key advantages.

First, they help you navigate through the complexities of the sales process, ensuring you're on the right track. Second, they enhance your credibility. Clients value professionalism and expertise, and when you consistently apply proven methods, you demonstrate your commitment to their success.

Lastly, B2B sales best practices keep you adaptable. They're not rigid rules, but rather guidelines that can be adjusted to suit different situations. By mastering the following practices, you'll be equipped to handle challenges that arise in the ever-evolving business landscape.

1. Prioritize the needs of your customers

Place the customer at the heart of your B2B sales strategy. Understand their needs, challenges, and goals to tailor your approach accordingly. Just as a good friend listens attentively, practice active listening with clients. Then, only offer solutions that fit your customer's specific needs. One-size-fits-all approaches rarely work in B2B sales.

As you seek to personalize your interactions, strive to underpromise and overdeliver. Also, encourage a feedback loop to create an open channel for client input. It will lead to continuous improvement and help you adapt to changing needs.

2. Identify the best tools to use

You'll also need to use the right tools to engage with your potential customers. These tools help you manage leads, track interactions, and stay organized. Some essential tools include:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: To keep all client information in one place for easy access

  • Email marketing platforms: To help you with personalized communication

  • Sales engagement platforms: To automate follow-ups and outreach

  • Analytics tools: To provide insights into client behavior, which aids in decision-making

But if you’re looking for a real game-changer, Dealfront empowers sales and marketing teams by providing them with important information, tools, and insights. This platform offers a big-picture view and lets you know when a company you're interested in visits your website.

Company visit website example Leadfeeder

See which companies visited your website with Dealfront

Dealfront gets its power from its GDPR-compliant data. It uses machine learning to help you focus on companies that are truly interested in buying what you're selling. It can even help you find more companies to target.

Turn anonymous website traffic into leads

Reveal which companies are already looking at your website and identify accounts that need your solution.

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3. Equip your sales team

First off, encourage collaboration among team members. Create a space where everyone can share their insights, strategies, and successes. This kind of teamwork strengthens the overall performance of the group.

Make sure that everyone knows their roles and goals clearly. This way, they understand exactly what they're responsible for, which helps them contribute effectively to the team's goals. Assign specific people to handle B2B sales leads. Let everyone know who's responsible for what so that no opportunities fall through the cracks.

Most importantly, use data to your advantage. Use a tool like Dealfront to look at trends and metrics so that you can fine-tune your strategies for better results. And remember, the market is always changing! Your team needs to be adaptable and ready to adjust strategies when needed.

Lastly, give credit where it's due. When you acknowledge contributions, it’s easy to boost morale and motivate the team to keep up the good work. Support your team because a supportive environment can be all they need to thrive.

Keep winning with the best B2B sales strategy

Success in B2B sales hinges on three vital pillars: understanding, strategy, and collaboration. When assembling an exceptional sales team, prioritize qualities like active listening, empathy, adaptability, and strong negotiation skills. From harmonizing marketing and sales strategies to crafting engaging content, B2B sales tactics shape your approach and lay the groundwork for success.

Remember that each interaction in your B2B sales journey is a step towards building partnerships, overcoming challenges, and reaching shared goals. By embracing these core concepts, tactics, and practices, you'll be fully equipped to take your business to new heights.

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