Home > Marketing, Sales > My Thoughts on Improving B2B Sales

My Thoughts on Improving B2B Sales

If you are at a B2B company, you are probably thinking about lead generation, increasing revenue and improving sales.

thoughtsonsales

I started jotting down some thoughts and here they are:

  1. Stay in Contact with Customers – The cost of selling to existing customers has been proven to be less than acquiring a new customer.  Sales Team and Marketing need to stay in touch with existing customers to keep them informed about the company, its product and service offerings and to educate them on items that might affect them.  This can be done via email newsletters, target emails, user conferences and webinars as well as one on one phone calls.
  2. Maintain a Community – Related to staying in contact, make sure that customers and fans of your company have a community that they feel a part of.  This is an community that includes an online portion (such as forum, blog, knowledge base, social media networks, etc.) and an in person portion (such as events and user conferences) as well as a psychological portion.  Make sure that your Facebook page has photos and information that evangelists of your company feel that they are part of the community.
  3. Do Nurture Campaigns – Marketing needs to provide the Sales Team with leads.  Not everyone is ready to purchase when you initially find out about them.  Consistently provide them educational material so that when they are ready to purchase they will think of you and engage with you.  Re-engage with “dead” leads.
  4. Be a Trusted Advisor – Sales Team and Marketing need to show expertise and caring to the customers and prospects.  Educate them.  You do this with blog posts, eBooks, white papers, webinars and speaking at conferences.  Listen to them.  Share information.  People buy from people and not companies.
  5. Have Targeted Conversations and Understand the Buyer’s Journey – You need to understand your customers and prospects.  Listen to them.  Have completed Buyer Personas and the mapping of marketing materials to the top, middle and bottom of the funnel for each persona. Tailor your marketing activities (events, social media, webinars, target emails, etc.) to your market and specific buyer personas.  Make sure you are addressing the issues they are facing and presenting the benefits (not features) of your solution.  You need to have a deep understanding of your potential customer.
  6. Defined Terminology & Processes –  Sales Team and Marketing needs to agree on what is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), the process for the Marketing to hand a MQL to Sales Team and what Sales Team will do with them.  There should be a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between Marketing and Sales Team on how many MQLs are provided to Sales Team and the response time by Sales Team to handle the MQLs.  Also firm up the definition of what is Top of Funnel (TOF), Middle of Funnel (MOF) and Bottom of Funnel (BOF).  Evaluate your processes, improve them and make sure that they are as efficient as possible.  Train your staff on the processes.  Document your processes.
  7. Commitment to Inbound Marketing & Content Creation – There should be a goal of providing the right content to the right people at the right time.  Have a  Marketing Automation solution in place (such as HubSpot) as well as a CRM system (such as SalesForce) that is usable and has clean data. Content creation is a whole company task.  The thought leaders of the company need to contribute to blog posts, presentations and white papers.
  8. Be Human – The Sales Team and Marketing need to listen to its customers and the prospects.  Be genuine.  Ask questions.  Tell stories that relate to them.  Look at everything thru the customer’s and prospect’s eyes.
  9. Have Closed-loop Feedback System – Make sure that the Marketing Automation and  CRM systems are integrated so that when opportunities are closed they update the Marketing Automation system.  Campaign effectiveness can then be measured.  This is one of those behind the scene items that won’t be seen as necessary but will improve efficiency and effectiveness.  A feedback system will tell marketing what is working and what is not.  Future marketing will focus on the what is working which generates more leads which generates more sales.  You need to measure to adapt.
  10. Align Sales Team and Marketing – It is a beautiful thing when the Sales Team and Marketing work together on increasing sales.  Sales Team needs to know what activities that Marketing is working on.  Marketing needs input from Sales Team and needs to understand what their problems in closing sales is.  If necessary, perform a Sales Enablement Assessment.
  11. Enable Sales Team – Ask the Sales Team on what issues they are having on their sales efforts, execute on what they need, measure the effectiveness of the execution, and keep asking & executing.  Work together.
  12. Enable Marketing Team – Make sure that Marketing has the right tools and company support.  Marketing needs a Marketing Automation solution to do its lead generation activities.  Marketing needs to have the support of other individuals in the company for blog posts, social media input, buyer personas input and thought leadership pieces.
  13. Consistent Look & Message –  Marketing is the brand steward.  It must ensure that all in the company (including partners) are using consistent look (right logo, colors, etc.) and saying the right message.  This might not help increase Sales but bad,  inconsistent look and messaging can definitely lose sales.
  14. Plan and Be Agile – Marketing must maintain the normal marketing activities but have available time, resources and budget to be agile.  This includes making adjustments due to product delays, new competitive offerings and key prospect deals.  Marketing needs to plan on the events and tailored campaigns that would be the most beneficial for the company and Sales Team.  Plan needs to be transparent and known to others.
  15. Care of Employees – Last but not least, make sure your employees are happy, paid fairly and engaged.  Provide them with the necessary training they need to be successful.  This includes training on keeping their skills up to date, personal development training and onboarding training.  Get their feedback and listen to them.  All customer and prospect facing employees must be knowledgeable on the company, its products, its services, its market, its messaging and how to sell to/present to/engage with prospects and customers.

Of course, every B2B company is different so all of the above might not apply.  My background is with technology (product and services) companies. But my suggestion is rate yourself on these 15 items and see where you can improve.   Let me know your thoughts on how you improved your sales at your B2B company.

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