By Ashwin Satyanarayana
B2B sales often involve an extended sales process, is more geared towards companies (and not individuals), and also comes with the baggage of complexity associated with B2B products and services.
With B2B sales, it’s also harder to identify the right buyers and create the complex pricing structures that it demands.
By the time you get around to the list of things that make B2B marketing fundamentally different from B2C marketing, you’d be forgiven to think that the B2B sales process has to be “complex”, “serious”, and more “corporate like”.
Get anywhere near “complex” and “Hello sir, to whomsoever it might concern”, and I’ll begin to trip, yell, and stomp my feet on the ground.
I don’t like that typical B2B approach, and you’ll do well not to like it either.
B2B sales don’t have to be serious, boring, and “corporate like”. You certainly won’t get results that way.
You don’t need to be a genius to come to that realization because even with B2B sales, it’s still people on the other end of the table, call, or email.
If you are into B2B sales, here are fundamental rules you should follow like it’s religion:
Ask & Listen: It’s both easy and difficult
Consider a typical B2B sales call: You straighten up, sit straight, and wait for the call. Or maybe you tip-toed straight into your client’s office. You are ready to make that presentation or deliver the pitch. It’s the moment of truth.
[Let’s assume you are actually meeting your client. You know? An actual meeting…]
You meet your client. You shake hands. That bead of sweat is there, but it won’t drip (…a composed superstar that you are).The time has come to hustle.
Guess what most people do at this point? Blabber…blabber…and then blabber some more. I know, because I did it when I started my career in sales.
My boss then taught me a lesson I’d never forget: Ask questions and listen actively, and that’s all there is to it.
The nod will come soon. Somewhere during the talk or after. The check is a formality. Your client won’t ever get to the dotted line without you listening and establishing rapport first.
It’s really not about you
It almost hurts as I write this. I know just how much you do just to get your business off the ground (and then there’s that big leap of faith before you even got started).
You love what you do. You beam with pride every time you look at that logo. You just can’t stop talking about your business. You spent years to make all this entrepreneur thing work.
Yet, you’ll do well to realize: your prospects don’t care. If you aren’t careful or if you push too hard, you’ll lose your prospects forever.
You’ve done so well for yourself until now. There’s just one more thing that you’d need to send deep into your psyche: it’s always about your customers and prospects.
The “You” In “Them” Lives On
Them = the company you are pitching to.
Most business owners and the average marketers in the B2B space forget that it’s still one person — usually, the person who signed up for your newsletter, the one you are writing the blog post for, or the potential customer you’ve just called up for a demo — that you are communicating with.
Forget that you are communicating with Shell or Apple. It’s still someone out there who you are communicating with.
Write or speak to that one person. The persona. The decision-maker. Or someone on that chain of command that’s a part of your complex sales process.
Let the sales process be what it is. You can always keep your communication light-hearted, personalized, and focused on a single individual.
Solve It, Do It Well, Do It Better Than Anyone Else
What would you say if your best friend comes up to you and asks for an honest opinion or advice about something? I don’t think you’d pitch a product. You’d take a confident stand. In your infinite wisdom laced with genuine concern, you’d hold your friend’s hand and guide her in the right direction.When you do this with a friend who’s close enough, you’d also realize that it’s not even about you.
It’s about her, right?
When you know what pains your prospect, you are in a great position to pitch. Just that I don’t want you to actually call it a “pitch”.
Don’t even call it a demo, a presentation, or anything else. Words have a strange way to play with your head.
Call it a solution, maybe? Treat your prospective client like a friend. Give her a solution. Show her how you’d achieve it, demonstrate proof that you really can do what you just promised, and maybe even throw in a word or two that some of your previous clients said (testimonials?).
Now, we took the case of you actually meeting the client here. But this holds good for all kinds of communication – calls, emails, blog posts, copy on your website, email marketing, advertising, and pretty much everything else.
B2B or B2C – it’s always people we are dealing with.
The day you start treating your customers as transaction numbers, order IDs, cookies, or whatever, you are tripping and missing the open secret to better B2B marketing and sales.