There are many aspects B2B sales teams need to take care of before closers step in. Providing the right tools and manually curating business lead lists are just the outlines of the top-of-the-funnel sales process preceding a successful closing stage. What else should each sales rep do for their sales strategy if a high closing rate is a goal?
Some sales rules are universal, and salespeople in any company and industry can use them. For example, the better Ideal Customer Profiles and buyer personas are developed, the quicker and easier reps close B2B sales deals. Meanwhile, other B2B sales techniques have recently emerged as a response to the digitalized transformation of business-to-business sales. For example, now it is better to have a wide selection of communication channels because some clients respond to traditional emails and phone calls while others can be accessed mostly via SMS or social media.
Being well aware that deals can get lost along the way, we have prepared hacks and tips on closing as many B2B sales leads as possible. If you have been contemplating how to prevent deals from stalling, here’s some advice.
Universal rules for B2B sales
These universal rules are pretty common sense. However, it is worth verbalizing them once again, even though many follow them intuitively.
Universal rule 1. Hand over only highly qualified leads for closing. This rule should go without saying, as it is pretty apparent that lead qualification will let closers focus their efforts only on handling objections and adding the finishing touches to close a deal.
Suppose your organization has an undifferentiated B2B sales process where reps do all the stages of the sales funnel. In that case, you must be aware that prospecting and appointment setting drains the precious juices from your reps which they instead could have spent on closing sales.
If, in your case, the problem is not reps’ wasted time but lack of clear differentiators, keep educating your lead generators on the criteria that make a B2B sales lead qualified. For example, it is pretty common for marketers in charge of lead generation to see eBook download as a marker of purchase intent and hand a lead over for closing. It happens because marketers find it easier to generate eBook downloads rather than demo requests, which are, in fact, a bigger deal predictor.
Universal rule 2. Elevate personalization to a new level. These days, when selling to businesses online is so widespread, personalization is mandatory. Some companies may well consider bulk email blasts a winning B2B sales tactic, but email marketing statistics show that leads are better quality and closing rates are higher when reps use a personalized approach. With email fatigue prevalent for most executives, you simply won’t get through if your emails are fully scripted.
Ditch templates and personalize the bulk of your cold email outreach. You will immediately see a spike in open rates, click-through rates, and response rates.
Leads don’t have time and patience to stick with you, waiting for your research skills to kick in and develop some value to the end of your email sequence. Strike quickly and be meaningful. How well you can personalize your outreach determines every choice about a cold email: What subject line to craft? How to open up? How to follow up? Finish with a soft ask or a hard ask? How to warm up this particular lead and so on. These are important questions, and they pave the way for reps to walk a lead through the buyer’s journey in a few touchpoints. Reps can quickly find answers to the questions if they research prospects thoroughly. Subscribe to the prospects’ LinkedIn accounts or business newsletters, and you will find out more about their pain points and what you can suggest as a solution.
Universal rule 3. Set up a data-driven process and find the right sales tools. Equipping sales teams with the ultimate sales stack is not a rule per se. You can leave them to go out on a limb and expect them to bring high numbers. It is up to you. However, can digital natives produce terrific results if their digital equipment is sub-par? Definitely not.
So many things are pivoted on the right tools and data. High-level personalization is either impossible or too time-consuming if done without AI assistance.
If each B2B sales professional on the team has access to sales intelligence tools, leads will be more qualified, the pipeline will be topped off quicker, and closing rates will be stunning.
Often, precisely in-depth B2B sales metrics are lacking at the last stages to close a deal.
Universal rule 4. Communicate in the right channels. Pertinent to personalization, sales reps need to find out a lead’s preferred channel of communication. Reach out to B2B sales leads where they can be accessed. You may stick to the most common channels of communication like email or phone calls, but what if a little bit of research informs you that most members of your target audience have outdated phones and are more likely to check their SMS rather than emails. In another scenario, while almost all businesses have a presence on LinkedIn, the executive you are looking up online turns out to be an avid user of Twitter.
To help your sales team communicate with business leads on any medium they prefer the most, opt for a sales enablement tool or CRM that has integrations with all social media platforms.
Universal rule 5. Find decision-makers. All reps can attest to how disappointing it is to have spent many hours on back-and-forth messaging only to find out it has been the wrong contact all along. The best way is to clarify upfront what your B2B sales process is, their buying process, and who is making purchasing decisions in their company. Then you both know what steps you have to take and what stakeholders to engage. This approach allows reps to find out if other stakeholders are to be involved early on.
If a rep isn’t in contact with a decision-maker, a sales cadence will take longer and may need adjustments. However, not only a longer sales cycle is associated with decision-makers. While they can be hard to access, they are easier to deal with to some extent.
The power to say yes means that they are more careful in their selection process and listen to your offers more closely.
Proposals or demos tailored to each of the decision-makers (as often deals require several stakeholders) usually speed up the approach of the closing stage. You may even find that if a sale stalls, it means not all stakeholders were involved. Train your reps to determine how many stakeholders are required for each deal to be closed at the proposal stage.
B2B sales tips
Here’s a list of tried and true B2B sales tips that work for small businesses and large corporations. When sales experts advise reps to develop relationships with leads, they mean that a conversation should have a humane touch but still be structured as a sales process where each party keeps in mind the interests and benefits of the other. Implement these recommendations, and your sales rate will double and triple within weeks and months.
Tip #1. Don’t sell your product. Sounds absurd? In the context of B2B selling, this tip simply means that a direct pitch is less successful than an emphasis on business outcomes for a prospect. Probably, your product, or service, is not particularly unique, right? You have competitors that may have even better quality, or better customer service, or more features. However, the business results you promise can be convincing. Start speaking your leads’ language and bring to their awareness what using your product or service will mean to them, their revenue, their sales goals, etc. If you succeed in changing your sales mentality, leads will react to your pitch as, “Wow, that rep really understands me and my pain points.”
Tip #2. Have a clear-cut value proposition. Similar to the previous tip, a well-articulated value proposition sets a product apart. When reps are quick to inform their value prop, leads are quick to see if they want to proceed with that offer or not. It saves everyone’s time and lets many sales go through successfully. Furthermore, each product can have multiple ways of usage and serve multiple purposes. It is not a prospect’s job to figure out how they can apply it to their problems. It is up to reps to approach leads with a company’s unique ways (value propositions) to address potential customers’ pain points.
Tip #3. Aim to meet leads face-to-face. High-ticket products require face-to-face meetings. However, not very expensive deals are also easier to close if the vendor and the customer see each other and answer each other’s questions in person. In some cases, a conversation via video can be enough, or at least a video call can act as buying intent. People build trust easier if they face who they are dealing with. We get the bulk of information from non-verbal exchanges. If you know that meeting face-to-face makes a difference for B2B sales, you will go that extra mile to close the deal.
Tip #4. Support your pricing with value. What does it mean? If your business negotiation gets stalled, it’s not because your pricing is premium. In B2B selling, companies can afford to buy products and services at any reasonable price. Most probably, your reps fail to convince the lead of the value your product or service provides and the outcomes they will achieve with it. Caving in and lowering your prices will not address the objection the lead is having at the moment. Understand what it is and prove that you can deliver the value that is worthy of the price.
Tip #5. Ground the value in numbers. Business people think in numbers. It is not enough to say we will solve problems. It is more convincing to give the exact number of revenue growth or software cost optimization. For that, you need to know what pesters the leads the most, what keeps them awake at night, and how much lack of a solution costs them. If you show leads, “This is what you pay monthly and yearly, and this is what you can save or earn,” they will get more interested in your solution.
Tip #6. Listening must be your best skill. Yes, reps talk (or write) a lot: Clear-cut value propositions, pricing negotiations, asking questions about pain points, and all the rest we’ve just mentioned. However, it is essential to hear what a lead says. Reps can be notoriously bad at listening, hurrying up to babble out all the features and advantages of the product. Ask yourself right in the middle of a conversation: Am I answering an unasked question? Am I pitching an unwanted benefit? Am I putting unnecessary thoughts in the lead’s mind? Am I right in my understanding of the lead’s pain point and my solution?
Tip #7. Use “no” to your benefit. Sometimes “no” can be handled as an objection, and the sales process is carried on. Sometimes “no” can be mined for insights for future sales. Probe the lead for more information and find out what you can do better. Some can be wooed by a free trial. But often, “no” simply means lack of alignment between you and the lead’s budget, business goals, time of the season, and whatnot. Also, remember, a quick “no” can be a blessing. In a sense, some leads may be unskilled in saying “no” when they really cannot buy for some reason. Don’t waste your time and walk away as soon as you see that all the steps are taken.
Tip #8. Never take close-lost sales personally. Deals approaching a close but failing are called a closed-lost deal (in contrast to their positive counterpart called a closed-won deal). A lot of time and effort can go into each deal. So it is natural to experience negative emotions when something goes wrong or it falls through.
- First, don’t think that a deal stalled because of you. Things happen. Try to find out what went wrong.
- And second, decision-makers can be capricious, so each communication is emotionally nerve-wracking. Staying calm is always the best policy.
Tip #9. Always analyze lost deals. It’s great that sales executives can check out any piece of email outreach or demo recordings these days. Digital technologies make it possible for sales reps to get feedback on their performance. Analyzing email outreach or sales calls gives endless opportunities to perfect each aspect of their performance and thus improve their sales rates. It shows the sales team what is working and what is not and how to adjust it.
Make your closing great again
We started with the idea that a solid preparation stage is required to help your reps close more. As you can see, many of our tips indeed start long before objection handling and closing. Find decision-makers, personalize your outreach 100%, and have a winning sales process.
Check our website for more tips and hacks on prospecting and lead nurturing. Belkins experts can consult you on all the aspects of B2B sales.