This post will cover the dynamics of B2B sales strategy and the tactics that will help you build a thriving B2B sales pipeline to help you stay ahead in a rapidly changing world of online B2B sales.
Traditionally, salespeople were in charge of nearly every aspect of the buying process, including making the first contact, leading buyers down the sales funnel, meeting with wholesale buyers at in-person trade-shows, and landing the sale.
With the advent of the internet and the more recent shift to online sales, however, much of the buyer journey happens without any direct influence from sales representatives.
While advances in B2B technology have changed the wholesales sales process, all is not lost.
What is B2B?
Before we dive too deep into B2B sales strategy, let’s quickly review what B2B sales are.
B2B (business-to-business) sales are transactions between companies that sell products and services to other businesses, as opposed to organizations that sell products to consumers (B2C).
In the wholesale world, B2B translates to brands selling products to buyers and retailers, instead of selling products directly to consumers.
B2B sales usually involve higher order values, longer sales cycles, more decision-makers, and more research than the B2C sales process.
Since the B2B process has evolved so dramatically in recent years, so have sales strategies. Let’s take a closer look at the four current B2B sales strategies you can employ to get more customers.
Four sales strategies to get more customers
Remember how there are more decision-makers in the B2B sales process than ever before? For example, the investment of a top-notch retail software solution could require sign-off from marketing, operations, sales, and the executive team.
Strategic selling, invented by the Miller Heiman Group, was designed to overcome obstacles that are inherently present when multiple decision-makers are involved.
With strategic selling, the salesperson focuses on identifying the various points of contact at the company in question. The salesperson will determine how much influence these points of contact hold, and how much support these contacts provide during decision-making.
Armed with this knowledge, you can organize your sales approach, tailor your value proposition correctly to the right person, and get appropriate and quicker approval as you move through the sales funnel.
2. Solution selling
Solution selling is a popular B2B selling strategy because this approach hones in on what the buyer needs, as opposed to focusing solely on the product.
Solution selling includes the following six steps:
- Prepare. During the preparation step, you will identify the company’s pain points, capture any relevant data, and research the client’s history.
- Diagnose. Once you have done your research, ask open-ended questions to the client to get a better idea of what challenges they have.
- Qualify. Now that you know more about the client’s problem, you will qualify the lead to see if the B2B solution you are selling is a good fit, what stage of the sales cycle they are in, and whether or not you are talking to the right decision-maker.
- Educate. The educate phase involves showing the client how the product or services solves their pain points and the problems they face at their organization.
- Solve. This step is where you offer a custom-solution and prove case studies that show how your company has been successful with similar clients.
- Close. You’ve done all the hard work. Now, ask for the sale.
Solution selling is a successful approach since it forces the salesperson to focus on the individual needs of the organization.
3. Account-based selling
How do you approach sales when the process involves long sales cycles, multiple decision-makers, and several opportunities for upselling and cross-selling?
That’s right! You look into account-based selling. Account-based selling for wholesalers is a multi-touch, multi-channel sales strategy used in collaboration with various departments to sell high-value retail clients—clients like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, and other top-of-the-line retail stores.
This ABS approach of selling to large retailers includes five significant steps:
- Identify your ideal customer profile (ICP). Review data and talk to your team members to get an idea of your ICP. Build out a profile to use as a reference.
- Target accounts. The second step is to list all the high-value accounts you and your co-workers want to target. Your product might not be a good fit for every large retailer; your job is to discover which large retail accounts will want your products.
- Investigate and identify. The next step is to conduct research, analyze data, and find the most common challenges your target accounts face.
- Personalize. The next step is to personalize the value proposition for different people at the organizations where you will be prospecting.
- Outreach. Once you have the right messages tailored to the right stakeholders, reach out, and start the conversation.
Account-based selling is growing in popularity in the B2B world as a comprehensive, personal, and collaborative sales approach.
4. Social selling
Social selling is a smart B2B sales strategy where salespeople leverage their social media presence to make individual connections, build relationships, and land deals.
Social selling is different from social media marketing because the salesperson is targeting one person instead of sending a broad message out to a larger target audience.
For example, social selling could include sending a private message to a stakeholder via LinkedIn to start a conversation.
Social selling involves:
- Social listening to find out what others are saying about your brand.
- Watching the competition.
- Keeping current in industry trends.
- Participating in relevant conversations on social media.
- Analyzing data to see what content is performing best.
The purpose of social selling is to establish strong relationships first and then make sales after you have a relationship.
How to build a B2B sales pipeline in the wholesale world
Now that you have a clear idea of some of the top B2B sales strategies let’s talk about some things you need to do to build a successful B2B sales pipeline.
It’s especially critical at this time to capture the attention of retailers via an online platform, since much of the sales process takes place online, as opposed to at in-person events. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Generate leads
The first step in ironing out your sales process is generating leads. Generating leads is the process of gathering information from retailers that will be interested in your products.
There are several ways for B2B companies to generate leads. Here are some of the most successful strategies for brands to generate retail leads:
- Offer content upgrades on your website.
- Invest in a B2B lead generation software that helps you capture and filter leads.
- Engage in conversations via social media, networking, and with other professionals about your business.
- Ask for referrals from current customers.
- Consider a digital trade show to show off your products and capture the attention of retailers.
- Ask for introductions from others in your industry.
- Optimize your website landing pages for lead generation.
- And more!
There are many ways to generate leads, and your marketing team will take care of most of them. Regardless of what methods you choose for lead generation, make sure you invest in a software that helps you keep all your contacts organized in one, convenient location. This will help you with future marketing, cross and up-selling, and gauging new opportunities for business.
2. Qualify your leads
It’s essential to qualify and categorize your leads so that you approach the sale of each lead correctly. Once you know where your leads stand, you’ll know whether you should send them marketing collateral, set up an online meeting, invite them to a digital trade show, or start sending them order forms.
A smart approach for qualifying leads is to come up with a lead scoring system. The criteria you use for lead scoring will vary depending on your company, goals, and ideal customer profile, but some things to consider are:
- Company size
- Type of contact
- Relationship with contact
- Lead source
- Previous engagement
- And more!
Once you have criteria for your leads, you can filter them by leads that need to be nurtured and leads that are ready for an invite to your virtual showroom.
3. Nurture your leads
This phase in the sales process is an essential requirement in a world where buyers can do most of the research and shopping on their own.
B2B audiences are used to reading reviews, researching products, and educating themselves on what B2B solutions are available.
Nurturing leads means capturing your B2B audience’s attention while they are researching and strategically turning their research efforts in your direction.
While nurturing leads heavily involves your content marketing team’s efforts, your sales team must also be prepared to jump into the conversation and lead purchasers toward sales.
Some ways to do this in the wholesale world include:
- Writing and promoting customer success stories.
- Creating custom virtual showrooms to capture the attention of your buyers.
- Creating articles, videos, and stellar product photography to show off your collection.
- Asking for a time to meet online and demo your products.
What you end up doing to nurture your leads will ultimately depend on how you want to work with your marketing team and best practices for building relationships in your industry.
4. Pitch your product and services to your prospects
All your hard lead generation, qualification, and nurturing efforts are for naught if you don’t pitch your product or services to your prospects. After all, the goal of lead generation is customer acquisition.
The good news is that if you’ve qualified your leads and nurtured them properly, by the time you’re ready to make a pitch, your customers will already be interested in your product or collection and are nearly ready to pull the trigger.
When making a pitch, make sure your customers know you understand their pain points and why your product solves these pain points. You’ll want to include a stellar online presentation of how your products work, why your products are the best, and why your products should be sold in their retail store.
5. Close the deal
Congratulations! You’ve pitched the product, and your potential customer knows everything there is to know about your products and solutions. Now, it’s time to end strong by asking for the sale.
Make the process easy on you and your clients by outlining the buying process, explaining terms of your contract, sending an online line and order sheet, and making it easy for retailers to order your products.
It’s also important to note that the sales cycle doesn’t end with the first purchase. Stats show that repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers. Keep your buyers organized in one database, and work hard to foster customer loyalty with a seamless onboarding process and continually reach out to your customer base.
If you’re just getting started with B2B retail sales, decide which sales strategy is best for your organization and follow the tips above to build a strong sales pipeline.
For more information on how to streamline your wholesale business, visit NuORDER today.