There are a lot of opinions on what to do to drive sales success. I Googled the topic and found over 60 distinct pieces of advice for what to do and not to do, but most of the advice was, indeed, just opinions. Any references to research or proven success was tangential at best.
You deserve better!
Based on our work with B2B sales teams around the globe, as well as data from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, where we relentlessly study what the top sellers do and what buyers are looking for, we have gleaned 9 keys to achieving success in today's B2B sales environment.
But first, we need to answer an important question:
What do you mean by B2B Sales?
B2B (business-to-business) Sales refers to one business selling products, services, or solutions to another business. The dynamics of B2B Sales tend to be more complicated than business-to-consumer (B2C) sales because they often involve higher dollar value solutions, longer sales cycles, and multiple decision makers.
9 Keys to Making a B2B Sale
Here are 9 keys to improving your B2B sales success:
- Drive value
- Grow your accounts
- Bring Insights to your buyers
- Stop; collaborate and listen
- Minimize buyer's perceived risk
- Find the Domino
- Be proactive
- Manager your TIME for maximum sales productivity
- Develop the B2B sales skills you need
1. Drive Value
All sellers talk about providing value, but few actually do it well. To drive value, you need to have a plan to create it. You need to be obsessed with the value you're bringing to buyers in every conversation and every touch. The companies and sellers that do this experience wildly better sales results.
2. Grow Your Accounts
Grab a piece of paper and pen and write down the following:
- Name a current account you believe you should be generating more business with.
- Write down the specific need you see or product or service they should be buying, but aren't. Even better, talk to a few of your colleagues who have good vision for how to sell your complete capability set, and ask them to meet with you to brainstorm how to grow the account.
- Write down ideas for how to reach out to the buyer and start discussions around these needs or product/service areas. Be sure your ideas provide value to your buyers.
If you're serious about sales growth, tap into one of the biggest untapped opportunities in B2B sales and look first to your existing clients.
Of course, this is a simple start. Create a strong strategic account plan and execute it, and you might just find yourself flooded with new business.
3. Bring Insights to Your Buyers
According to our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, the #1 factor most separating sales winners from the rest—according to the 700 buyers we surveyed—is that sales winners bring new ideas and insights to the table. Doing this helps you drive value for buyers and generate new opportunities in your existing accounts.
Buyers want your ideas and are looking for your insights. The sellers who do this win significantly more often.
4. Stop; Collaborate and Listen (and do a few other things)
According to buyers, sales winners don't just provide new ideas and perspectives.
Buyers choose sellers who:
- Collaborate: 73%
- Persuade buyers they will achieve results: 70%
- Listen: 75%
- Understand needs: 73%
These are the factors most separating sales winners from second-place finishers.
When it comes to the top two factors—bringing insights and collaborating with buyers—sales winners sell radically differently than second-place finishers. None of the remaining factors—understanding needs, listening, persuading buyers you'll achieve results—are new, it's simply that winners do a better job of them.
You may think you're already doing these things, but you need to ask yourself, "Am I doing them as well as the winners are?" According to buyers, you may not be.
5. Minimize Buyer's Risk
For every 100 times you find advice to "sell the ROI," you might find one piece of advice to minimize the perception of risk for the buyer. Risk plays an important role in a buyer's decision process. All change comes with risk. Buyers are naturally skeptical, and many have been burned in the past.
It's your job to minimize this risk and overcome the hurdles.
6. Find the Domino
The buzz in B2B sales is that buying committees are growing. While this may be true, we've found that by and large, buying teams have one person who has profound influence over the ultimate decision: The Domino.
Whomever plays the role of Domino should receive special attention from you. See if you can get one-on-one time with them and inspire them with your solution.
7. Be Proactive
Opportunities are out there. Buyers are making strategic investments more frequently and they're open to switching providers. They want your ideas and they want to talk to you early in the buying process.
Approach buyer conversations with value and provide new insights and ideas, and you can blow away your sales goals. But you must do this proactively. Conversations with buyers aren’t going to fall into your lap. This is also true for conversations about new opportunities with your current accounts. You must proactively create conversations with your existing accounts, too, if you want to grow them.
8. Manage Your TIME for Maximum Sales Productivity
For the greatest B2B sales success, you need maximize your time and motivation and get more done every day. Begin to track your TIME and where you're spending it. Then make a plan for how you want to be spending it. The sooner you figure out where your time is going, the sooner you can start maximizing the time you spend on what's really important.
9. Develop the B2B Sales Skills You Need to Succeed
The top 3 sales skills possessed by sellers at Top-Performing Sales Organizations are:
- Driving and winning sales opportunities: 68% vs. 50% of The Rest
- Core consultative selling: 65% vs. 41% of The Rest
- Driving account growth: 65% vs. 43% of The Rest
You and your team must master the following three skills if you want to see significant sales success. You can do everything else on this list, but if you:
- Don't have a process to win sales
- Can't lead successful sales conversations
- Don't know how to grow your accounts
You won't experience the success you should be.