#1: Know Your Prospect Like The Back Of Your Hand

How do you get to know your prospect inside out? Here’s a quick 3-step guide to help you get started…

Step 1: Create A Detailed Buyer Persona

A Buyer Persona is essentially a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customer.

With a Buyer Persona in mind, your sales reps will be able to understand your prospects on a deeper level, and this will help them tailor and personalize their B2B sales pitch.

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If you’re experiencing a problem with poor-quality leads, you might want to create a Negative Persona as well. This is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a representation of a customer whom you don’t want to serve. (This could be someone who has an exceptionally low Customer Lifetime Value, or someone who’s too expensive to serve).

To get started with creating your Buyer Persona, download this free template. For best results, don’t just sit down with senior management and define your Buyer Persona - get input from your sales reps as well.

Step 2: Identify Your Prospect’s Buyer Journey

Now that you have a better idea of who your buyer is, hone in on a specific prospect, and identify which stage of the Buyer’s Journey they’re in.

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Stage 1: Awareness

Buyers who are at the Awareness stage are typically unaware that your company exists, and they might not even know that they have a need.

At this point in time, the last thing you’d want to do is to pitch your product or service to them. Your job is simply to educate your prospect on what’s causing their problems, while making them aware of your company and product.

When you’re communicating with your prospect, devote more time to talking about their pain points, instead of waxing lyrical about your product or brand. The goal is to convey the risks of inaction, so that your prospect decides that they need to look for a solution.

Stage 2: Consideration

Once your prospect starts looking for a solution, they move on to the Consideration stage. Now that their problem is clearly defined, they’ll start comparing the different platforms and tools that are available to them.

Now, depending on the complexity of the problem, your customer might research different methods of solving their problem, or they might jump straight into different products.

Here’s an example:

Say you have a prospect who owns an eCommerce store, and this person wants to improve on their customer service. This person might look at different solutions, including…

  • Live chat
  • Chatbots
  • Knowledge bases
  • Centralized help desk

Or they might hone in on live chat immediately, and start looking at various providers:

  • Bold360
  • Intercom
  • Zopim
  • Drift

If your prospect is still deciding between various solutions, then your sales rep’s job is to highlight how the solution provided by your company can address the pain point that they’re dealing with.

If your prospect is weighing the pros and cons of different products or tools, then your sales rep should talk about why your product is superior to that of your competitors. (Case studies and product demonstrations are particularly helpful here).

Stage 3: Decision

When a prospect enters the final stage of the Buyer’s Journey - the Decision stage - they’ve whittled down their options to a shortlist. At this point, your prospect will look into how they might start using a tool - including implementation, costs, and customer support.

To address your prospect’s concerns, focus your pitch on how easy it is to set up your product, and mention your support channels. If cost seems to be an issue, steer the conversation away from the price of the product, and towards how much ROI the product will generate for your prospect.

How Do You Identify Which Stage Your Prospect Is At?

If you’re reaching out to cold leads (whom have never interacted with your company before), the only way to go about doing this is to ask them prospecting questions, such as…

  • Are you looking for a solution, or are you still researching about {problem}?
  • Do you have a timeframe for identifying a solution for {problem}?

But if you’re dealing with prospects who have landed on your website after conducting their own research, there are ways of subtly deducing what stage of the Buyer’s Journey they’re at.

If your prospect arrived at your website or landing page after clicking on a Google or Facebook ad, for example, check which ad they converted from.

An ad that says “Still Can’t Figure Out Why Your Website Doesn’t Get Visitors?”, for example, clearly caters to prospects who are in the Awareness stage.

On top of that, you can also track the actions that visitors take on your website, and use the data to identify which stage they’re at. Our free B2B sales tool, Albacross, helps you do this.

To get started with Albacross, simply create an account (which takes just 30 seconds), and paste the tracking script onto your website.

Once that’s done, Albacross will start monitoring the visitors on your site, and you’ll get daily, weekly or monthly reports about which companies are visiting your website and how they interact with it.

If someone from Company X visits your site and read several introductory blog articles about the importance of customer service, for example, it’s clear that they’re in the Awareness stage. Your sales reps can reach out to them using the contact information that Albacross provides you - but they shouldn’t be plugging your company or product right off the bat.

To get started with Albacross, click here. Our tool is 100% free to use, and you can access data on unlimited visitors and companies, and even filter and tag your visitors so that your reps can follow up more effectively.

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself With Your Prospect’s Company

Before your reps reach out to your prospects, they should always read up about the prospect’s company and product.

Most reps will already take a cursory glance at their prospect’s website before calling them, but get your reps to go one step further by subscribing to their newsletters, and following them on social media.

If the prospect references a new product line that their company has launched, and your rep is able to say, “Right, I saw your post on Facebook. Seems like your customers have been responding well so far”, the prospect will definitely be impressed. This paves the way for a more fruitful discussion.

#2: Follow Up With Prospects ASAP

What key factors do you think your prospects take into consideration when deciding which vendor to go for?

Most business owners will automatically think of one of these three things: the price of the product, the quality of the product, or the reputation of the vendor.

Well, there’s another factor in the picture… and that’s the responsiveness of the vendor.

The numbers don’t lie: A whopping 35% to 50% of sales go to the vendors that respond first.

Running in the same vein, the odds of a rep connecting with a serious buyer drops by 400% if they respond in 10 minutes instead of five.

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Now, here’s some good news:

The average company takes a whopping 42 hours to respond to a lead. That’s how low the benchmark is.

So if you can only shorten your response time to 15 or 20 minutes (instead of 5), that’s completely fine. There’s still room for improvement, but you’re already be eons ahead of your competitors.

Now, how do you get your reps to respond to their B2B sales leads more quickly?

First, teach your reps how to prioritize their time wisely.

If you’re not already doing so, also start tracking your lead response times. For companies using a CRM tool, this is simple - most tools automatically record the time taken to contact a lead, so it’s a matter of just digging out the information.

Next, figure out each sales rep’s average response time.

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You might want to consider incentivizing your reps to respond to leads more quickly (by giving vouchers or a cash bonus to the rep who has the quickest response time).

If you’re not keen on doing this, that’s fine - just make sure you have a word with the reps who are lagging behind. You might need to provide extra training or support, especially for your reps who don’t have much B2B sales experience.

On top of that, consider using a lead management system that allows you to automate calls to new leads. (Marketo and LeadSimple are both good bets).

Here’s how these systems work:

When a lead fills in a form on your website, this triggers a call to your rep. The system will rattle off the information provided by the lead, and your rep can choose to either connect (ie pick up the call), or pass them on to a colleague.

Last but not least, try and allocate your rep’s schedules such that there’s someone attending to enquiries all the time - even on weekends.

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Here’s how B2B sales works:

Leads that come in over the weekend are your low-hanging fruit - they’re 20% more likely to convert as a paying customer, yet companies respond 71% slower to these leads.

By following up with your weekend leads in a timely manner, you’ll skyrocket your conversions, leading to more money in the bank.

#3: Share Case Studies

Next on our list of B2B sales techniques? Sharing more case studies!

Data from LinkedIn shows that case studies are the most effective form of marketing when it comes to B2B sales. You probably already feature some of these on your website, but why not get your reps to actively share these case studies with their prospects as well?

Say your prospect is asking if your company’s tool can achieve a particular objective. Now, your rep can either say:

A) “Yes, it comes with Feature X and Feature Y, and these both help you to achieve Objective Z.” OR
B) “Yes, one of our customers who have been with us for 8 years used the tool to achieve Objective Z. In doing so, he also increased his ROI by 20%. The case study is on our website - I’ll send you the link right after this call.”

Obviously, B is a lot more compelling. Get your reps to add this strategy to their bag of tricks!

#4: Address Your Prospect’s End Goal

If your prospects are founders and CEOs, then they’ll probably be concerned with their company’s growth and profitability.

Regardless of what product benefits or features your reps are explaining, always get them to tie it back to revenue and ROI. To make their lives easier, consider providing them with an ROI calculator or ROI formula that allows them to calculate how much a prospect might save (or earn) with your product.

Check out this calculator on the Evie.ai website, for instance. (For reference, Evie.ai is an AI assistant that helps you schedule appointments).

Now, there’s no need to build a fancy widget (like this one we’ve referenced) to put on your site. Just provide your reps with a formula that they can use, so they can plug in the numbers (provided by their prospect) and tell their prospect how much they’ll save.

Try Albacross

#5: Know What Differentiates Your Company From Your Competitors

It isn’t sufficient for your reps to be able to rattle off your company’s Unique Selling Proposition. Your reps should be intimately familiar with your competitor’s products as well, so that they’re able to explain to your prospects why your products are superior.

Instead of saying:

“Our service is easier to use than Brand A’s.”

Your reps should be saying:

“I’ve personally used Brand A’s product before, and I can tell you that the way their dashboard is set up makes it difficult for teams to pull out key metrics to use in marketing reports. (More details). Also, their Tool X doesn’t come with Feature Y unless you’re paying for the most expensive plan. But with our company, this feature is something that all users have access to.”

#6: Tailor The Outreach Method To The Prospect

People are always arguing over this particular B2B sales strategy:

Is it more effective to have a conversation with your prospect over the phone, or should you try to secure an in-person meeting?

Here’s our take: it all depends on your prospect’s preference.

Now, conventional wisdom tells us that it’s easier to sell when you’re face-to-face. After all, you can build rapport and pick up on your prospect’s body language more easily when you’re meeting them in-person, and this helps you pitch more effectively.

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That said, trying to force a face-to-face meeting might not always be the smartest move.

If your prospect’s calendar is packed, and they would rather speak via a phone call, then your rep should respect their decision. If they keep pushing for an in-person meeting, the prospect might get annoyed, and decide that they don’t want to learn more about your company after all.

Also, it might not make sense for your reps to travel all the way to their prospect for a face-to-face meeting if they haven’t gotten the chance to qualify the prospect yet.

Instead of simply scheduling meetings right off the bat, teach your reps to first ask these questions to identify if their prospect is worth pursuing. (If it’s a yes, then they can go ahead and set up that meeting).

#7: Be Persistent

The best B2B sales rep is one who understands the value of persistence (in other words, having a thick skin).

Consider this:

It takes, on average, 8 attempts for a sales rep to reach a prospect.

And assuming a rep does manage to make contact and set up a meeting, there’s still more work to be done. 80% of deals don’t go through unless a rep makes five follow-up calls after a meeting. (Ironically, 44% of sales reps give up after just one follow-up).

The bottom line?

The vast majority of sales reps spend the bulk of their work day dealing with rejections (or unresponsive prospects). If they can’t bounce back easily from this, this sabotages their overall effectiveness.

#8: Follow Up With Old Leads

Running in the same vein, it’s also worth following up with old leads (for example, prospects who first contacted you a year ago).

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The B2B sales cycle is notoriously long - and a single purchase decision, on average, involves 5.4 people. (If your clients are MNCs who have a lot of hierarchy in their organizations, then you can expect even more red tape involved in your B2B sales process).

Bearing this in mind, make sure your sales reps don’t just write their prospects off if they’re hemming and hawing over a purchase.

Instead, they should file a note using your CRM system, and set a reminder to get in touch with these leads again 6 months or a year down the road.

#9: Make The Best Out Of The “Send Me An Email” Request

When reps cold-call their prospects, they sometimes get cut short with “Can you send me an email? I’ll look through it and get back to you.”

Now, this is pretty much a polite way of saying “I’m not interested, so piss off.” The sales rep knows it, the prospect knows it, we all know it.

So the moment your sales rep takes down their prospect’s email, and lets them go, the deal is pretty much dead. (There are exceptions, but in most cases, the rep will never hear from their prospect again.)

But here’s the good news - your rep can turn the situation around with this one question: “I want to make sure I send you something that’s relevant, so can you let me know - are you more interested in X or Y?”

It’s okay to play it by ear, and swap other questions in - but the question has to be a no-brainer, and something that’s easy to answer. This way, your prospect will actually respond to you, and in doing so, unconsciously lower their guard.

Now, start asking more follow-up questions to engage your prospect in a conversation. This is a great time to reference something that you’ve seen on their website, or one of their email campaigns.

If your prospect cuts you off, and tells you to just email them, that’s fine. Thank them for their time, and hang up. You’ll have gleaned more information about their company at the very least, and you can use this to send them an email that’s more tailored and personalized.

Often times, however, you might be able to get your prospect hooked into a long conversation with you. The key is to ask relevant and insightful questions - if you’re able to do that, you’d be surprised at how many prospects who previously say they’re “too busy to talk” will end up having a prolonged conversation with you.

#10: Reach Out Using Social Media

We’ve mentioned previously that building rapport with a prospect goes a long way in helping you close a sale. But that’s not all that it’s good for - this also increases the chances that a prospect will return your calls (or reply your emails) when you first make contact.

The rationale behind this?

By humanizing yourself to your prospect, you increase the chances of them reciprocating to your outreach efforts. So go ahead and reach out using social media.

Say you retweet and respond to your prospect’s Tweets over the course of a week. Then you invite your prospect to connect on LinkedIn. Now, when you follow this up with an email, your prospect will hopefully recognize your name.

Even if they find your name familiar, but can’t really place where they know you from, that’s good enough - you’re already standing out from all the other sales emails in their inbox.

To learn more about reaching out to leads via social media, check out this guide on social selling.

#11: Ask To Be Connected

If your prospect isn’t responding to your emails, and you don’t have their number, what do you do? Just call the main line of the company, and ask to be connected.

Many sales reps assume that they won’t get through - but you’d be surprised. The key is to be polite and unassuming instead of brash and over-confident.

For example, say to the receptionist “I’m not sure who I should speaking to, but I’m hoping to connect with someone who can do XYZ. Could you put me in touch with this person?”

Since you’re not pitching or selling anything to this person, and you’re simply asking them for a favor, there’s a high chance that they’ll help you out. Ask your sales team to give it a try, and see if it works for them.

#12: Don’t Be Too Available

When following up with prospects, sales reps can sometimes make the mistake of sounding too available - which comes across as desperate.

“I know you’re really busy, but if you could spare some time to return my call that’d be great. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a demo, please use the following link to choose a slot, and I’ll make it a priority to get back to you.”

If you’ve been emailing a prospect (who’s unresponsive) for quite some time now, and you send them the above message, guess what this does?

It tells your prospect that they hold all the power in this situation, and that regardless of whether they take a day, a week, or a month to get back to you, you’ll still be receptive and ready to serve them.

Instead, try giving your prospect a cut-off date to reply. For example:

“Hi {Name},

I haven’t heard back from you despite trying to call and email several times, and I don’t want to be that annoying sales guy who keeps bothering you.

Let me know if you’re still interested in {Product} - if so, I can extend a 10% discount to you if you sign up within the next 48 hours. If I don’t hear back from you in 48 hours, I’ll take it that you’re not interested, and I won’t contact you anymore. Cheers!”

BONUS: Identify Your Bottleneck

Now that you’ve made it all the way to the end of this article, you’re probably thinking…

Great, I have all these techniques at my disposal. Which of them should I start implementing first, though? Which will give me the best results?

To answer this, you’ll need to analyze your B2B sales funnel, and identify your bottleneck.

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Pull out your CRM data, and figure out the following:

  • Number of leads generated
  • Number of calls made
  • Number of prospects reached
  • Number of prospects qualified
  • Number of prospects closed

On a monthly basis.

Once you have all your numbers, you’ll be able to identify where your bottleneck lies. That’s where you should put your effort into optimizing.

A Final Word On Growing Your B2B Sales and Revenue

There you have it - 12+ B2B sales tips and best practices that will help you grow your company’s revenue. We hope this guide has sufficiently addressed your questions on how to approach the B2B sales process.

If there’s one takeaway that you’ve gotten from this article, let this be it: you snooze, you lose. Time to get cracking, and optimizing your B2B sales process!

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Albacross

Marcus Svensson

Head of Growth

Marcus Svensson is responsible for the Growth of Albacross with previous experience as a founder and background in Mathematics.