For any kind of war, it is vital to develop a strategy to win. Similarly, in B2B sales, developing strong sales strategies not only keeps your pipeline healthy and robust, but also convinces prospects that your company is the one with whom they should be partnering to achieve growth and success.
With this in mind, here are the 5 B2B strategies that you should implement . These strategies have been tried, tested, and implemented at Slintel and have given us great results.
Using these links you can navigate to each of these sections:
- Account Based Selling
- Social Selling
- Implementing Automated Nurtures
- Upselling and Cross-Selling
- Diligent Sales Training/Onboarding
#1 Account Based Selling
Even though account based selling has been around for a while, it became one of the hottest trends in 2020. In fact, as per LeanData, 86 percent of sales and marketing professionals are using account based selling.
What is account-based selling?
Account based selling is when each account is treated as a market of one. This strategy prioritizes targeting companies (multiple stakeholders) as a whole instead of one salesperson targeting a single lead in the company. This strategy identifies a set of target accounts on which sales and marketing departments work in unison to deliver targeted content to the contacts identified in those accounts.
Setting Up Account-Based Selling Framework
If you want to set up an account-based selling framework at your company, here are the steps you need to follow:
- Alignment of Sales and Marketing Teams: The most important thing when it comes to account-based selling is to ensure your sales and marketing teams are seeing eye-to-eye. Some of the things that can be done to ensure alignment are:
- Work towards the same goals
- Share reporting between the teams
- Identify and use the right set of tools and technologies
- Encourage feedback between the teams
- Develop an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): The very thing that account-based selling depends upon is making sure you target the right companies. So determining the right ICP is crucial. It will avoid getting all the leadership team in your company together to figure out what accounts to target. An ICP is developed based on the following:
- Consider input from team members across all departments
- Firmographic data
- Technographic data
- Internal CRM data
- Behavioral characteristics of your valuable customers
- Develop Your Buyer Personas: Like your ICP, establishing the key players to contact in the targeted accounts. As per Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers. Reviewing past accounts which closely reflect your current ICP is one of the best ways to establish your buyer personas.
- Personalized Outreach Strategy: Even though content creation typically falls into the bucket of marketers, it is vital for the sales team to identify what collaterals are required to convert more buyers and communicate the same with the marketing team. Instead of sending a one-size-fits-all outreach message to the stakeholders you want to contact, it is better to send messages that are personalized for each role of the stakeholders.
Why does it work?
#2 Social Selling
Long gone are the days when you could just pick up the phone and cold call someone to get them to schedule a demo. Today however it is more difficult.
Today’s buyers are more independent where, according to the Forrester report, 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information; 68% prefer to research on their own, online; and 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content.
With the advent of social media and the internet, buyers are more in charge of the sales process than salespeople. The number of people projected to use social media by 2025 is almost 4.41 billion.
With more than half the world’s population using social media, it is evident that incorporating social selling as part of your sales strategy is wise.
What is Social Selling?
Social selling refers to first setting up the base for your business in the appropriate target market. Next step in social selling is to focus on developing relationships with prospect companies on your list.
This means you need to leverage social media networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat, TikTok and more to share curated content so as to engage your potential customers or nurture the existing ones.
The key components of Social Selling are:
As an example of social selling, let us take a look at how our very own Director of Sales Development, Rahul Wadhwa at Slintel leverages LinkedIn.
Here you notice how he has used the real estate available to each of us on LinkedIn to position Slintel.
But that is not all, he does not just use LinkedIn to sell but also focuses on fostering a better relationship with his network by providing great nuggets of sales-related content that are thought provoking and actionable at the same time.
Why does it work?
Well, it is simple. With social selling, we focus on fostering a relationship with our customers and not just treat them as giant bags of money.
The end goal for us with respect to using social media is to establish ourselves as a company that puts connecting with prospects first before selling. With this in mind, you cannot go wrong.
Make sure to promote content that is relevant to your prospects across social media that they are active on, and engage in deeper conversations about their pain points and things that they care about.
Always remember that “The key to social selling is social and not selling.”
#3 Implementing Automated Nurtures
Sales is not easy. Period. From the pressure to fill pipelines to the need to hit sales quotas and with metrics to exceed one must bring their A game when it comes to B2B sales.
Even this might not be enough. One must keep an eye out for bigger predators vying for the same leads and compete with them. In a world of eat or be eaten one must find a way to ensure they are able to hold the buyers interest long enough to get them to convert.
One way to do this is creating kick-ass nurture programs to engage with buyers during their journey through the purchase funnel.
What is lead nurturing?
With lengthy sales cycles which are only expected to get lengthier with time, it is quite evident that most of the buyer’s decision happens without the involvement of sales reps. Thus to keep the buyer in the sales funnel one needs to find ingenious ways to engage with them.
Lead nurtures are often one of the best ways to continue engagement with buyers no matter what stage they are at in the sales funnel. A nurture program that focuses on continuous marketing and communication efforts while at the same time ensuring that the needs of the lead’s are addressed and taken care of is what makes it successful.
What does lead nurturing do?
Independent buyers, extremely long sales cycle and short attention spans and more can actually cause a headache to marketers. However, with lead nurturing you can actually position yourself to better handle these issues.
Some of the challenges/problems that lead nurturing can help with:
- Help revive dormant leads: With effective lead nurturing it is quite possible to revive dormant leads. Start engaging with dormant leads by providing them with access to your content and re-establish your relationship with them.
- Counter long sales cycles: With sales cycles only going to get longer, you can use lead nurturing programs to shorten the cycle by converting leads to buyers.
- Improve prospect engagement: In this situation, one must go back and review your nurturing strategy and make sure the content which you provide your buyers are high-value insight filled content.
- Not sure how to measure the impact of my lead nurture: This is one of the most important aspects to measure. Start by asking yourself what your goals are before determining what kind of impact they will have, much less start to measure it. Ensure you have set all the right cogs in motion to see the results you expect.
- Determine the right technology to use: This is dependent on what kind of program you are running and what you hope to achieve. Automation is your best friend since it will reduce manual spend on the nurture program.
Why does it work?
With sales cycles getting longer by the minute, with buyers refusing to interact with sales reps at the beginning of their decision cycle, it is absolutely vital to ensure your RoI is significant.
Some of the reasons why it works are as follows:
- Lead nurturing can result in more sales: According to Invespcro only 50% of the companies excel at lead nurturing sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost. This indicates that it is not a short-term conversion but rather a long-term one.
- Lead nurturing prompts large purchases: According to Invespcro, 47% of nurtured leads tend to make larger purchases as opposed to non-nurtured leads.
- Lead nurturing impacts your RoI: Just over 75% of marketers are reporting on how their campaigns are directly influencing revenue. (HubSpot, 2020)
UpSelling and Cross- Selling
Most of the time, sales reps and marketers end up forgetting about previous customers since they are more likely to focus on generating new leads to chase and convert.
With all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into doing this to get new leads to enter into the funnel, more time should be spent on getting your existing customers to reorder your product.
What is upselling and cross-selling?
Upselling, generally means when there is a value addition added to the customer’s value. It can be to add services or purchase a more expensive model.
Cross-selling is when you get customers to add a supplementary or complementary service to their existing purchase.
How does this work at Slintel?
At Slintel, upselling is when we try to get our customers to add on more users or purchase a higher amount of credits to use with our product. Although at the moment we don’t cross-sell, we still provide our customers with the access to our chrome extension to use it in conjunction with our product.
In fact, increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95% (SmallBizGenius). This indicates that it is important to focus on your existing customers even after they have made their purchases.
Some of the things we implement when upselling-
- Strategizing Outreach: Analyzing certain aspects of the customer and their purchase such as when did they purchase the subscription or what kind of demographics and other patterns have we observed from past deals allow or when is their subscription up for renewal are some of the factors we take into consideration when designing outreach messages to our existing customers. Addressing these questions and more allows us to figure a game plan that will allow us to re-appeal ourselves to our existing customers.
- Create targeted lists of former customers: With all the digging and analyzing done for your outreach, you can easily classify your former customers into highly targeted groups to ensure the right people are getting the right information to ensure upselling to these accounts.
- Remarketing: One of the easiest ways to target former customers is setting up ads to remarketing your product and brand. Set up ad campaigns in social media to specifically target this population.
- Refresh your customers memory: It is very important to make sure your customer remembers as to why they bought your product in the first place. This goes a long way to instill brand loyalty in your customers. This will in turn allow you to retain them for a longer period of time and even end up getting referrals from them.
Why does this work?
Upselling as a way to retain customers and instilling brand value goes a long way. Contemplate on this stat for a minute – acquiring a new customer is 5-25 times more expensive when compared to the efforts required to retain existing customers.
Upselling helps your company by:
- Elevating Profits: It is no mystery that if a customer ends up doing bigger business with you, your company is bound to make money. Based on this simple premise, it makes sense to ensure spending some of your efforts on not just retaining customers but by engaging with them to ensure repeat business.
- Instilling Customer Loyalty: Don’t be a sleazy car salesperson who is pushing you to upgrade your properly function GPS system to something bigger and flashier. Instead, work towards getting your customers to make informed decisions by presenting them with all the facts and options. This is the best way to ensure their loyalty with you and your brand.
- Increasing RoI: With how costly it is to find new customers and lengthier sales cycles, upselling and cross-selling options are the best way to see a profit and a superior RoI.
- Developing a symbiotic relationship: Upselling and cross-selling not just exists to benefit the company but also for the customers. In simple terms, customers are lazy to shop around for another option if their existing option does the job and keeps them happy. So providing them with all the options for an upgrade presents them with the convenience and flexibility they need.
Let us take a look at the next strategy we employ at Slintel.
#5 Diligent Sales Training/Onboarding
Last but not the least, one of the things we focus on at Slintel, is providing training to our sales and marketing folks to equip them with the tools necessary to tackle the roadblocks they meet along the way.
Maintaining the vision and mission of the company is relatively easy when your startup is at its nascent stages. At this time your hire can work alongside with you to observe and absorb the sales process and more. However this becomes more complex when you start to scale.
Scaling the company results in distractions and you being taken away to perform other duties/tasks. And boom, this is how your sales teams start to stray away from your vision and mission.
A way to counter this is with constant training you provide to your team.
Let us take a look at how we do this at Slintel.
How is training done at Slintel?
Our #bd Slack channel is one of the most active channels in our company as we use it for not only cross-department interactions, but also as a space to celebrate our wins, understand our losses, and to stay motivated.
And in addition to that, our CEO Deepak Anchala makes sure he stays active and accessible to our sales and marketing teams through this channel. He shares tips, stats, and his know-hows on how to close deals, engage with prospects, and posts screenshots of good outreach emails as examples that our AEs have used to communicate with prospects, and more.
We also host daily training sessions where we review our AEs doing a demo/discovery with a prospect and also provide feedback for the same.
Another aspect of training is to provide feedback to our AEs. Only with hearing constructive feedback and incorporating them will result in improvement.
Why does it work?
“Be prepared” does not just work as a motto for the US Army, but works for the army of salespeople.
Sales training is an essential must in every rep’s sales kit. The better your salespeople are trained the better are their performance results. At Slintel we follow the mantra of hiring personnel who have a mixed bag of experiences (freshers and veterans alike)
Now the reasons as to why sales training is important is massive and is not limited to the reasons covered below.
- Sales call rejections: One of the most de-motivating factors that salespeople encounter are getting rejections on a regular basis. Often those who are new to the world of sales (sometimes even with veterans), end up taking the rejection personally. To combat this, it is necessary to get your salespeople to realize that rejection is part and parcel of sales and present them with tools to understand that and continue to persist at prospecting.
- Communication: While most of us are good at communication, it is the art of articulation that we struggle with. The usual banter we have amongst ourselves is great, but using the same complex language with your prospects might not result in the desired outcome. Hence developing training programs to instill the articulation in your salespeople is necessary.
- Ability to listen: This is often disregarded with all the quotas, metrics and more that needs to be achieved. Salespeople are more worried about what questions to ask and are so hyper-focused on that they end up missing out on listening to what the prospect wants. So training your salespeople to listen effectively will help them gain better results.
- Empathy and Improving EQ: This the most essential requirement for salespeople to develop/have. Empathy is the ability to understand and feel the other person’s emotions. Training your salespeople on the importance of empathy and how they can incorporate it into their sales life is vital. By doing so, companies ensure that when their salespeople interact with the prospect with empathy often results in instilling their trust in them, improves their ability to ask better questions, provide better solutions to their pain points and maintain a relationship with your prospects and customers.
What we don’t do
While we do implement the above strategies along with a multitude of others, there are some things that we do not do.
- No door-to-door selling: This one is obvious due to the current situation that has enveloped the world. With the pandemic still raging in so many parts of the world, we have decided it is safe for everyone not to implement this method of selling.
- Low balling/pricing: Our motto is to quote the right price to avoid getting into an infinite loop of negotiations. By stating the right and fair price upfront allows customers to understand that we are being fair with them and instills trust in us.
- Positioning our product only on its features and benefits: It is 2021, customers are no longer as held up on features and benefits as before. They are more interested in understanding whether our product solves for their pain points and challenges they face.
Wrapping up: Which B2B strategy should you implement?
To each their own. While the above tactics have proven successful for us, not every one of these strategies might be useful for a different business model.
When it comes to implementing the right B2B strategy for your company, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. One must contemplate on what you and your company want to achieve in the long run and strategize accordingly.
Good luck strategizing!