It is well documented that B2B Sales is changing. Buyers are more educated, not only about your products but also your competitors. They no longer need a salesperson to help them make informed decisions.
If you follow an inbound marketing approach, your sales team have access to information such as: which web pages prospects have viewed and what content they downloaded. This can tell you their life cycle stage and which of your buyer personas they identify with. The lead may have also been nurtured through workflows, at each step attracting negative or positive scoring which helps generate marketing qualified leads (MQL) that are ready for Sales qualification.
The role of Sales now is more advisory, and salespeople need to be cognisant of all the information the buyer has accessed, and adapt their approach accordingly.
How do you adapt your Sales process to match your buyer's behaviour?
Align your Sales and Marketing Teams
The inbound sales model is, unsurprisingly, similar to inbound marketing - transitioning prospects through the stages of awareness, consideration, and decision, focusing on supporting the buyer.
An alignment between marketing and sales is vital. Marketing needs to be creating relevant content for Sales at every stage, to drive prospects through the sales funnel and close them as customers.
By unifying your sales and marketing, you can:
- Create a shared language around leads
- Define the process of ‘hand-off’ from Marketing to Sales
- Develop an agreed definition of qualified leads
- Get commitment to delivery of meaningful sales leads
- Sales to feedback and ‘close the loop’ with Marketing
Document your Sales Process
Often sales processes evolve organically and are undocumented, especially in manufacturing, where businesses have traditionally relied on a direct or distributor sales force to generate growth.
Having a documented sales process which you can measure against is vital in an inbound world.
By defining your process, you can quickly identify any disconnects. For example, if Sales book a lot of initial consultations every month, but very few result in closed customers, this highlights a need to investigate your consultation process.
A Sales process review enables you to discover areas where sales performance can be improved, new sales techniques to introduce, or any training required to help transition your staff to an inbound sales approach.
The first stage is to observe your salespeople - look back at your closed/won pipeline. How long did the whole process take from the first contact to deal closed, and how much time elapsed between each touchpoint, and are there any common patterns in behaviour.
Then map your observations to a generic inbound sales process model. While every sales process is different, it is likely your observations align somewhat with the standard steps. This will help you to define what made the prospects move from one stage of the sales process to the next, based on the prospect's actions.
Once you have a documented sales process you can use it to measure progress, look for trends and inefficiencies in the process. For example - how long are your prospects staying in particular stages on average? Are there places where you could “speed up” the time spent at one stage? (HubSpot)
Audit your Sales Content
Working from the findings of your sales process review, revisit your existing library of sales literature, presentations, video, etc. and identify any missing assets or possible improvements to current materials.
Marketing should also work with sales to create email templates and automated emails sequences to help Sales to nurture leads through the sales funnel until they are ready to connect.
In an ever evolving world, reviewing your B2B sales process to ensure it is aligned to how your buyer's behave today is key. By aligning your Sales and Marketing and making the most of automation tools such as HubSpot, you can stand out from the crowd, build a strong sales pipeline and ultimately win more business.