Which are the most difficult sales, B2C or B2B? Of course, both of them, especually when the company lacks resources, does not have a sales strategy and does not understand the factors that lead to excellence in this area. Therefore, drawing upon my 15-years experience in B2B sales, I will present in this article the 6 practices that can lead to excellence in B2B sales.
1. Image of the sales process in the company – Excellent!
There are not many companies that can be proud of this achievement. Too many of us consider the selling process as difficult, unpleasant and tiring. This is reflected in the way in which the sales process is perceived inside organizations. Of course, the company's results depend 100% on the results of this process, but people often don't consider selling anything other than "a big hassle" and, of course, "a necessary evil". That is why, the companies that end up creating excellence in sales transform this perception and generate a positive, valuable, energizing image of sales inside the form. These companies break the barriers of general preconceptions and access the potential of their people. It's all about the tone at the top given by the leaders and the coaching offered by the company to all members of the sales team.
2. Sales strategy – Documented in writing
Global studies show that only 14% of all people in a company know what is the strategy of the firm. It may seem insignificant as an argument for excellence in sales, but it is not. When every member of the sales team has access to a synthetic document that points out the strategic directions of the company in a relevant way, they feel involved and empowered. The role of the leaders is to create an organizational culture based on integrity and trust in order for the sales process to be planted in a fertile context and to yield results. When the leaders of an organization do their job well, the transparent communication of information inside the company is a normal process, which only supports excellence and collaboration.
3. Stages of the sales process – Documented in writing
Impeccable execution is the hallmark of excellent sales teams. To get there, people need the steps of the sale process to be documented in writing. It's not a detail, it's the difference that makes the difference. Top companies have detailed descriptions of sales processes and main and adjacent workflows. What is changing through this endeavor? First of all, from a psychological point of view, people will feel safe because they will have any time access to these materials for clarification. Secondly, they will have clarity and a depository of know-how to use when new members come to the team. It is essential that the documents are prepared both in a synthetic and visual mannner as well as in a detailed form (but the level of detail should not make them unusable).
4. Members of the sales team – Experts in account management
The firms with high performing sales teams allocate significant resources to each of their customers as part of the sales process. In B2B accounts management knowledge and insights make the difference – from establishing the relationship to mapping the decision makers’ matrix of the client company, until establishing a level of trust and collaboration which will facilitate the sales consultant to be involved in the process of strategic planning of the client. Therefore, in B2B sales it is imperative that all members of the sales team are continuously trained to have all the necessary skills (soft, functional and hard) to be experts in account management.
5. Training modules – Available for each stage of the sales process
A process is as good as its implementation. Firms that have achieved excellence in B2B sales do not stop after defining the sales processes and desiging the workflows. In these companies, both the organizational culture and the working environment support people to live these processes. And to achieve this, they have training modules, checklists, and tools for each stage of the sale process. Furthermore, the learning process is not at all a formal and rigid one, but it is self-determined, continuous and supported by technology. Managers of sales teams recommend and appreciate training.
6. Continuous development – Through e-learning and classroom training
The companies with high-performing sales teams use the potential of technology to enable continuous learning processes. These companies prefer an approach that combines training in the classroom with virtual learning (e-learning) to develop the skills of the sales teams members. In a recent study on sales, among the three most important elements/aspects that have improved significantly in the training level of salespeople over the last 3 years, respondents ranked first the communication skills (23%), second the competences and knowledge directly related to sales (19%) and third the business acumen (11%). The same study shows that training to improve sales skills is still considered as having the greatest impact on members of organizations. It is followed closely by coaching-on-the-job and training for extensive professional development.