Understanding the customer and the challenges they face, strong communication skills, product knowledge and the right tools to track success are just some of the means necessary for B2B sales success. However, as this article explains, there are other elements and attitudes that are essential if sales people are going to heighten their achievements, and this also means changing with the times.

Best Type of Sales Person

Is there a best type of B2B sales person? Research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) suggests there is. CEB say there are five different types of B2B sales people and out of the different categories, it’s the challenger that excels.

According a Forbes article, challengers use a three-pronged approach to sales: teaching, tailoring and taking control – and teaching is the most important element. The research indicates that a B2B sales person is most likely to make a sale when they teach the buyer something they don’t already know.

However, this isn’t the only quality required. B2B sales people also need to be able to adapt, have tenacity without being aggressive or pushy, and understand how to use social media to make connections, build relationships and maximize sales.

In addition, it is important to realize there are different types of buyers as well, which is why a one size fits all approach might not work. Forrester conducted some research into what it views as the four main types of buyers. You can read more about it, here.

Educate, Don’t Sell

The Internet has changed the way B2B buyers approach buying and researching. Before making a purchase, most of them now conduct their initial research online without going to a B2B sales rep.

However, buyers will still depend on the expertise of a sales rep for their insights into a product and how it will address their specific problems – this is where exemplary product knowledge can make your B2B company stand out from the crowd: by educating the buyer and providing them with solutions to their specific problems.

Selling to an educated buyer takes an entirely different approach, and the steps you need to take are outlined clearly, here.

Improving the Digital Experience

Online B2B purchasing is increasing, but not all websites are optimized for sales and they don’t always offer the best buying experience. To enhance the buying experience for customers, Accenture Interactive has highlighted some key areas where companies can improve their digital offerings and reduce shopping cart abandonment.

This includes making the checkout process short and simple, making sure the site is error free and keeping the prices competitive – as 37 percent of buyers of B2B have abandoned a cart after finding a product cheaper somewhere else. However, as you’ll find out later in this article, pricing isn’t everything, and trying to beat competitors on pricing isn’t a sustainable way to build a business.

In addition, it is vital that B2B companies focus on mobile sales. Research shows that B2B buyers and researchers are depending on mobile devices and smartphones to do their research, and they’re also purchasing that way. With predictions that B2B mobile commerce will be a major growth area in the years ahead, if you haven’t already, now’s the time to start optimizing for m-commerce and online payments so you’re ready for future growth.

Focus on the Sales Experience

McKinsey’s research shows that B2B sales is not all about the money. When surveyed, decisions makers did say pricing was a factor in making a purchasing decision. However, when Mckinsey analyzed the findings further, it found one of the biggest factors in the decision to make a purchase was the sales experience itself.

During the sales process, there are two main areas where B2B sales people fail, at least according to McKinsey’s research: contacting the buyer too often and not having enough product knowledge.

Businesses can boost product knowledge through software programmes, regular product training, and understanding the essentials about the product they are selling. To further boost the sales experience, provide your client with tailored solutions to their problems to show you understand them.

Importance of Building Relationships

Research from Gallup shows focusing on building customer relationships is more important than pricing. By working with clients to help them succeed, B2B companies can build successful, ongoing relationships with customers and essentially work with in partnership with them rather than just becoming another vendor.

However, as this takes times, Gallup advises that B2B sellers concentrate on their more important customers to achieve a good return on their investment.

And Gallup’s research confirms why building a relationship is so important. 71 percent of B2B customers say they would be prepared to take away their business because of the way their relationship is being managed. But how do you build better relationships? Personalizing your services to suit your client’s needs, using your industry knowledge to demonstrate an understanding of their company’s problems and developing buying personas are all good starting points.

Getting the Balance Right

Of course, you’re keen to make a sale, but contacting a potential lead too often is off putting and a hindrance to a satisfying customer experience. 35 percent of U.S. and European customers have deemed being contacted too often in person, by email or by phone as the “most destructive” aspect of a business relationship, while a small percentage highlighted not being called often enough as a problem – it is all about getting the balance right.

How often and quickly should you follow up a sales lead? There are mixed opinions on this, especially in the B2B sector where the lead might need to be nurtured first. If you’re not sure of the best approach, this article shares some sound advice.

Conclusion

In the past few years, the B2B sales landscape has seen a distinct change of direction. Today’s B2B buyers are more educated than ever before and require a different approach: teaching or challenging, rather than direct pitching.

However, the one factor that has remained the same is the importance of relationship building in B2B, and research shows that this is one area that most B2B firms need to work at the most.

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