What Is B2B Inside Sales?
- Factors That Make Inside Sales a Priority in B2B
- Inside Sales Pros and Cons
- B2B Inside Sales Do’s and Don’ts
Although, B2B sales are more intricate in comparison with the B2C sales, many of the similar processes still turn to B2B selling. To be a professional, B2B salespeople still have to find potential customers, establish contact, get their product or solution in front of the buyer and accomplish the sale.
Main Steps of B2B Sales Process
Let’s look through the main steps to make while B2B process.
Step 1: Do Your Research
For a good B2B seller it is necessary to know their market, their rivals, and who their perfect audience is. Sales professionals also have to know how their product or service blends in with the market and what their unique value offers will be.
Step 2: Find Your Customers
The next step to a prosperous B2B sales process is finding your target audience, namely, the decision-makers with the authority and budget to purchase your product or service.
It is also important to evaluate your prospects. Make sure your potential customers have a real need, are interested and have necessary funds for purchasing your product or service.
Step 3: Conduct Your Initial Scope
Now, when you possess the information on your market, competition and perfect clients, it’s high time you got in front of them. You can do this in various ways. Using a social media sales, also known as outbound marketing, is one of the ways. Creating a blog with an overwhelming content to attract readers who can turn in potential customers is also a great option. This is usually known as inbound marketing.
Cold mailing or cold-calling and arranging a personal meeting (today - a remote one by Zoom, Hangouts, etc.) is an example of direct marketing. If you are going to use this type of marketing, follow-up emails should be a must-have of your sales strategy. Using appropriate email marketing software will help you to group, plan, and send emails to potential customers, as well as provide sales representatives with open and responsive sales analytics.
Step 4: Pitch to Your Leads (Built Your Outbound Sales Strategy)
The main task for B2B sales professionals is to get in front of potential customers and prove that they will benefit implementing your product and how your service will solve their problems. It also helps you to get more information on the customer’s needs and requirements.
This step usually takes the most time and energy at all stages of the B2B sales process, and each sales pitch should be adapted for each individual lead.
Step 5: Follow-Up
It is important for B2B salespeople to send over a follow-up with a short summary of everything discussed and personalized business offer not long after the pitch meeting. Sales follow-up cadence is a great way to maintain communication and decrease the number of potential clients that “gone dark”.
Step 6: Choose the Sale
If you have already gone this far, this should be the easiest step to make. The customer is ready to acquire your product or service and now just have to get it in the written form.
If the customer has objections, that prevents sales close, than discuss what really bothers them and find the best solution to satisfy their needs.
But B2B is currently undergoing fundamental transformations. Big sales (selling expensive items such as homes, cars, equipment and software, etc.) that are sold through outside sales (field sales or personal sales) are moving to inside sales, which become a prevailing sales model.
What Is B2B Inside Sales?
The term "inside sales" relates to sales carried out remotely and includes high touch service using phone and emails. Due to the recent studies inside sales have grown over the past decade and show no signs of slowdown. So, let's have a look at what makes B2B inside sales to be in such a great request.
Factors That Make Inside Sales a Priority in B2B
Having a feel of the competitive pressure, B2B salespeople are trying to cut down the costs and are looking for more effective ways for selling. Most sellers consider inside sales to be quite imperious and efficient. There are some reasons why they think so.
Reason 1: Inside sales can place almost anywhere, which reduces the cost of real estate. In addition, remote operations reduce overall travel expenses.
Reason 2: Inside sales reduce the cost of sales and increase the number of contacts per day, as sales representatives have more access and faster response time for customers.
Reason 3: Inside sales increase the efficiency through improvements in communication tools, so sales representatives can perform other functions to more effectively realize their potential prospects.
Reason 4: Inside sales give better training and a more efficient training process, as sellers share the workplace with their managers, which reduces the training period.
Reason 5: B2B customers find it more convenient to communicate and interact via email, social networks and conferencing. These changes are induced by clients buying behavior, as currently they are becoming more informed and trying to find the best solutions for their business using online information before contacting the seller.
Inside Sales Pros and Cons
Inside sales typically include lower operating costs, shorter sales cycles, greater efficiency, and closer team partnership.
A clear inside sales process helps increase workflow efficiency, optimize time use and increase return on investment. This can be a great advantage for companies that want to expand and develop.
As inside sales specialists work on the spot, wrack up general goals and track structured schedules, some advantages accumulate: group thinking, collaboration and interagency coordination are significantly improved. It is also easier for managers to mentor, train and instruct. The main disadvantage of this scheme arises when prospective clients prefer personal meetings.
Technology works inside sales. This means that they get the advantage of systematization, virtual partnership, data analysis, automation and artificial intelligence. The technology allows inside sales teams to achieve higher levels of synchronization, scalability and productivity.
Whilst, technology extends almost all aspects of inside sales, the growth, maintenance and support of sophisticated technologies put a constant element in the cost columns of intelligent, future-oriented enterprises.
B2B Inside Sales Do’s and Don’ts
Do not start with one person in the sales department. When you first want to create an inside sales team for your company, it is very important that people work in pairs. If you cannot compare your sales representatives with each other, it becomes much more difficult to determine if your sales team is working optimally. If you hire two representatives, during the first few months you will find out if you made a mistake when hiring one of them. At this point, even if you are replacing an intermittent representative, you are not losing momentum because there is still someone in the sales department who can proceed on doing the sales. If both representatives are training, then you have just significantly increased your assembly line, and earning income has probably begun. Amid rapidly changing economic conditions, new buying habits, technological progress and aggressive business growth, B2B sellers are trying to keep up with their competitors. Collective ideas always help to solve this problem. With two sellers, you can quickly and easily test hypotheses and so on.
Implement and integrate cold calling solution with built-in CRM. CRMs have revolutionized how teams stay on top of their sales, as well as how they organize and track customer information.
But not every CRM company gives priority to functions that make sense to their customers - for example, the general lack of their own call functions. A cold call is still a strong strategy for closing leads, but without built-in ones, this process is tedious: sales representatives manually dial number by number, struggle with transferring or forwarding calls and spend valuable time leaving voicemails.
The built-in call feature as well as dialers are extremely important for sales success, and each department should give it priority when investing in CRM software. With a versatile automated calling software for sales & marketing departments and call centers keep your agents fully engaged and help your sales managers facilitate better results.
Create an online digital content marketing plan. It’s very important for any company to develop a strategy around the digital marketing content that your company is going to form in order to explain your value proposition. More and more the potential customers conduct extensive research on the Internet before coming up to the buying cycle. Most likely, by the time they turn to you, they already have a clear idea of what they need with the help of the digital content you created. To ensure your content is as effective as possible, make it interesting and reachable. Using infographics and business videos, and not just written content (however, a lot of research that educates and inspires is of great importance) is a great option. Infographics and videos are easy to digest and therefore very valuable.
Additionally, having alluring content, it’s crucial that your content is easily “found”. Your digital content resources should be in that place so these tricksters can knock them over when they do their research. Companies that do this in the right way can generate up to 50% or more of their pipeline without any active ongoing efforts. Taking this into account, it would be nice to process the content in various modifications. For instance, a well-designed research article can easily turn into an ebook, a couple of blog posts, and maybe a webinar if you share it correctly.
Call your customers after you sell them a product or service. Sellers should always keep in touch with their present customers at about 3-6 months after they sell their product or solution to them. When you are communicating with a client, do not forget to ask about the following things:
- how does your solution works for;
- why they ended up buying your solution in the first place;
- if they can recommend someone from their colleagues for whom your software might be valuable.
By conducting interviews with the customers about how the solution works for them, you will strengthen your relationship with them and perhaps even discover some additional opportunities. It is equally important that by asking your customers why they bought your solution, you will get an informal idea of what convincing event led to the purchase of your product. This is a great way to get important silver bullets and stories that you can use in new search cycles. Finally, your sales representative should ask your customers about three people whom they know in similar positions in other companies that may also be interested in their decision. After all, if they benefit from a solution, then they should be happy so that their peers also succeed. In addition, the seller should ask if they can use the name of the link in the email with the referral and even copy them into the email. Many customers will offer an introduction. With one call, the seller can achieve three incredible goals and, we hope, launch many new prospecting activities.
Your sales steps should always be numbered, named and defined. You have to write a sales playbook that describes the entire process of communicating with a potential customer and clearly defines the salesperson's actions at each stage. You will get a really good structured sales process. This helps your sellers accurately predict and understand whether this is a real deal. This will be the essence of your forecasting methodology.
B2B Sales Management for Beginners
B2B sales management is thought to be one of the most important elements of any sales process and an important factor in the success of a team. Thus, the sales manager role in organizing an effective and practical workload is, of course, indisputable. Anyway, managing sales representatives activity is very different from managing other team members.
Sales managers, mainly if they are new to this job occupation may face many problems: selecting the right people, training and instructing, setting the right aims, monitoring the activity of each sales representative and so on. Therefore, if you are willing to know how to provide high level of sales representatives' activity in B2B phone sales and at once, to make sure that the work is properly done, the following strategies are recommended to be used:
Recruiting. When it comes to staff recruitment, a professional salesman always analyzes open positions within the company and searches for potential new team members in advance. Thus, when it comes to sales representative replacement or team expanding, they already have a few candidates that fit them.
Coaching. This is undoubtedly an integral part of any role as a sales manager. To maximize the productivity of his team, a sales manager should:
- find out sales representatives weak points by listening to and analyzing their call records;
- train and develop new skills and approaches to sales;
- design general role-playing scenarios that allow representatives to be prepared for any situation;
- analyze and improve existing call scripts;
- work on mistakes and describe the ways of preventing them;
- discuss ways to increase revenue.
Continuous training and professional development of sales representatives will not only help them learn how to succeed and organize their work efficiently, but also increase their productivity.
Meeting. Since sales are closely related to other aspects of the business, the sales manager must organize and take part in meetings with other departments, such as marketing, customer service, etc., to ensure that they are all on the same page and are well coordinated.
Prioritization. Being extremely busy, it is easy to lose control of time and not cope with the most important or time-sensitive tasks. Therefore, to make sure that you have completed everything, start your day by organizing a to-do list and marking the most urgent tasks. The less time sales managers spend on low-cost tasks which can usually be delegated to other team members, the more they can give to their direct duties of training and coordinating the work of the team to achieve the intended result. In addition, you must also prioritize tasks for your team in order to effectively organize their workflow.
To summarize, we can say that being a sales manager, especially in B2B sales, is not an easy task, which can be quite unpleasant and stressful. However, with the right strategies and effective time management, you can not only increase the productivity of your sales team and make the sales process more efficient, but, as a result, achieve maximum (financial) success and long-term growth of your company.
Best Techniques and Selling Skills for Inside Sales
Inside sales representatives follow clearly defined instructions and sequences. They have predictable graphs and are aimed at achieving a certain set of metric thresholds. They use a variety of software that helps to improve communication with customers, speed up workflows and increase productivity.
To prosper in this environment, inside sales professionals need discipline and technical literacy, as well as basic sales skills in communication, listening and product knowledge.
Inside sales representatives are strongly dependent on technology to expand the reach or influence of their phone and calls. Since the quantity is of paramount importance, sales representatives should also be pleased with the quick sale, making piles of calls and sending piles of emails in one day.
B2B Sales Tips for Inside Sales Success
Understanding your customers and the ways they choose to get to the sale is an important element of sales. Do your sellers “get” your customers? Salespeople should recognize the expected experience and tell their customers what they want. Below we will cover ten tips that every salesperson needs to know in order to make a profit in B2B sales.
- Understand the Habits and Expectations of Your Buyer.
The Internet allows customers to search for the information they are looking for before contacting a sales representative for help. Approximately 51% of B2B buyers turn to online content to study purchasing decisions. And smartphones make it even easier on the go. 82% use their smartphones, and 56% use a tablet to access content, including webinars or videos that have more educational value than insinuating sales.
However, the data collected by ITSMA (Association for the Marketing of Information Technology Services) show that “70% of buyers of B2B solutions want to work with sales representatives earlier,” defining their short list. Yes, the buyer does a lot of online research, but sales representatives are still needed to make the purchase process easier.
Be active and find a way to communicate with potential customers at the beginning of the path to the sale.
Knowing the trends of today's B2B buyers helps you recognize the opportunities for interaction during a customer’s trip. Either you can wait until a potential customer reaches more than half of the purchase process to attract you, or you can take the initiative and find a way to attract potential customers at an earlier stage of their sale.
- Answer Quickly - But Not too Quickly.
Everyone knows that you want to surpass your competitors. You want to call to bring back as soon as possible when they fill out a form on your site. Be quick and creepy. Do not make your prospect feel like a stalker. Patience is a virtue, but the window for patience is limited, so listen.
It has been proven that a response within five minutes usually yields 18% of positive results. However, if you answer within 10-60 minutes, your chances will improve significantly to 38% of positive results.
- Build Trust.
Before picking up the phone to call someone back, do an online prospect study to help you set up a conversation with him or her. Show interest in the person so that you can build relationships that develop the “know, love and trust” relationship. Aren't you sharing with someone you trust and comfortable talking to?
When solving a problem over the phone, keep in mind that you need to act as a trusted source or teacher. According to Forbes, a teacher’s teaching skills account for over 53% of B2B buyers’ decisions. When you take on the role of a teacher or consultant, you build trust and trust with the potential customer.
- Ask Questions and Listen.
By asking the right questions, you can find the pain points of a potential client and find out how you can help. Remember - you are looking for more than “yes” or “no” answers. When asking questions, you want the potential client to speak. The questions “yes” or “no” will not lead to the disclosure of anything significant or will help you discover additional opportunities.
- Focus on Business Results.
People are busy, and they don’t have time to listen to you “poetically” about the features and benefits of your decision. Help them understand how your product helps them achieve their desired results. If you spent time asking questions and listening to the answers, you can formulate a results-oriented answer to the pain points of the potential client. You should be able to discuss - at least at a high level - how similar customers have used your product or service to achieve similar desired results.
Although this proverb comes from Harvard professor of marketing (Theodore Levitt), the mood is quite applicable to sales: “People don’t want a quarter inch drill. They want a quarter inch hole!”. Help your customers figure out how to get the result (a quarter-inch hole). Do not focus on drill skill unless it is on the client’s “must-have” list.
- Tell a Story.
People can remember stories more easily than simple facts.
Before calling the decision maker, look at the library of case studies or think about the jokes shared by current clients or other teams working with clients. Discover an interesting story that a leader will love.
- Know Your Stuff!
You should not only have a thorough understanding of the products you sell, but you should also be aware of your competitors' products and current industry trends. How does your product compare, what features do you have, what your competitors don’t have, or what features do they have that you don’t offer? You can level the playing field when talking with potential customers if you know the answers to such questions. And, following the current trends in the industry, not only shows the level of passion for the industry, but it can also cause conversations.
- Use the Available Communication Technologies.
Technology provides us with several places of communication. The phone is very valuable in the sales process, but do not discount other digital means. Email, social media, text messaging, and even personalized video can help move forward in the decision-making process. At the beginning of the sales process, you need to find out what common ground the buyer prefers so that they feel comfortable.
- Qualify Leads.
Change the mantra from Always Be Closing to Always Approach. There are many sales qualifications frameworks.. Find one that works for your products or services, and write it in the minds of your representatives.
- Develop a Sales Cadence.
With front-loading, you have the opportunity to create a strong personal presence right out of the gate. When developing a cadence for yourself or your team, pay attention to the best days, times, and frequencies to maximize results.
If you are involved in B2B sales, consider each of the points above. Remember that the Fuller Brush seller is an example of what should not be done. Instead, use your role as a trusted consultant and guide. Focus on building relationships, rather than highlighting a list of features and common benefits.
- Give Three Options in Your B2B Offers.
Don't make a crushing mistake by offering only one option in your offer to potential B2B customers. If you do this, decision makers will be exponentially more likely to shop for other options, better prices, and different services.
Instead, give each business three options that vary in price and cost. Let them choose the one that suits their budget and best suits their needs. You will be surprised at how many will choose the most expensive option.
How to Structure Inside Sales Process
Each inside sales representative sells its own way. But the common variable that they share is the “process". In a nutshell, the sales process is a certain set of effective steps that help transform potential customers into customers. This creates order out of chaos. As a sales manager, you can be aware of such indicators of your team as the number of potential customers converted to customers and won transactions, as well as individual indicators, such as the goal achieved by each seller. Thanks to the sales process, your internal sales team knows what steps need to be taken to transfer a transaction from one stage to another, which will greatly simplify sales forecasting.
If you have at least five customers, this means that your inside sales team follows the sales process, but this may not be well documented or structured. Before you start building a sales process for your inside sales team, look at the list of your current customers and think about asking questions:
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What is the first encounter?
- How do potential customers find your business?
- What is the common buying process?
- How many times does a sales representative have to keep an eye on the prospect?
- What is the average time to close a deal?
- What common objections do sales representatives face?
- How is the deal won?
- What are the common reasons for losing a deal?
After you answer the above-listed questions, you will have an idea of how to structure the sales process for your inside sales team.
To create a winning sales process for your inside sales team, you can start by recognizing the various steps a customer goes through during a purchase. When creating milestones for your sales process, keep in mind that they must be clearly distinct from each other.
Once you have developed the sales process, try explaining the steps to an employee outside your internal sales team and see if they understand the difference between them.
Here are seven steps to help you get started in the sales process.
Step 1: Prospecting
At this point, you are reaching out to potential buyers.
A customer’s identity is a fictitious idea of your ideal customer who is facing problems that can be resolved with your product. For each character buyer, define a unique set of pain points and understand how to solve them. You can create your customer identity based on your product or service and the prospects’ problems that it helps to solve.
Once you have decided on your customers, you can begin the process of finding sales. Attract the attention of your potential customer by recognizing the challenge that you know they are facing in a catchy email or cold call. Make sure you do your research before clicking send or making a call. Here's a quick example of finding potential customers:
Day 1: Cool LinkedIn Post
Day 3: Very Personalized Cold Email
Day 5: Follow-up email
Day 7: Cold Call
Day 10: Follow up email
TIP: Attach a 2-minute video describing your product or service in process. This helps to attract the attention of a potential client and, most likely, will receive an answer from him.
Step 2: Qualification
To identify a potential customer, you need to understand if the potential customer needs your product or service and how it can work for him. From the various qualifications available, such as CHAMP, MEDDIC, GPCT, etc., choose the structure that best suits your client’s path. The most common structure used by enterprises to identify and define prospects is BANT, based on their budget, authority, needs and timing.
Budget - what is the budget of a potential customer?
Authority - does the potential customer have the authority to make decisions?
Need - what does a potential customer’s business need?
Timeframe - does a prospect have a time frame for implementing the solution?
For example, your qualification process may follow this workflow:
- The potential customer understands the product and the need for it.
- Identify customer problems and how your product or service can solve them.
- Identify decision makers.
- Understand an action plan for a company if they have a budget and time to implement a product.
TIP: Provide case studies of clients with the same pain points and problems. This helps potential customers better understand your product, and helps build trust as well.
Step 3: Demo/Presentation
This is the stage of creation or termination, at which you present a personal solution to the problem of a potential client. Whether it’s an on-site or virtual demonstration, you should not only be well prepared for it, but also:
- Explain the features of your product.
- Answer questions regarding the implementation and use of the functionality.
- Offer a trial account for a potential customer.
- Track technical inquiries and objections through emails and calls.
- Provide any settings required for the product.
TIP: Provide individual presentations and white papers describing product features and how to solve them. You can simplify the data by adding diagrams such as process maps to the presentation.
Step 4: Objection Handling
Your inside sales team cannot avoid objections, but they can learn to deal with them. Some of the common B2B objections may be related to the price of the product, or they may show interest, but will later become cold. Your sales representatives must be prepared for the objection, and the best way to do this is to follow a procedure similar to the one below:
- Listen to the objection without interrupting it.
- Understand why the objection rises.
- Respond to the objection.
- Make sure you continue with the prospect.
TIP: Create a document with common objections and ways to resolve them, so that your team is well prepared and not taken by surprise.
Step 5: Negotiations
There will be lots of negotiations around features and prices. If your product has a multi-level tariff plan, a potential customer can agree on a premium feature in a lower plan or a discount in a higher plan. Your inside sales representative needs to know how to handle requests and be sure that the potential customer meets them halfway.
- Agree on prices.
- Prepare the necessary legal and corporate documents.
- Set the date of purchase of the product.
Step 6: The Deal is Won
This is the moment for a happy dance!
Your prospect has gone the way of buying to become a customer. Now is the time to send contracts for signatures.
Depending on the nature of the product, you must set a deadline for implementation. If a potential customer moves away from an existing solution, establish a plan for migrating the product and data.
Step 7: Nurture
This is the stage for subsequent actions. You stay in touch with the client to find out how the product works for them and understand the problems.
If done correctly, parenting can help strengthen customer loyalty to your brand and product. By maintaining a good relationship, you can keep customers up to date with new products and have clear sales opportunities.
At this point you should make sure that:
- Ensure the customers understand the value they saw in the product;
- Find out if they have any problems;
- Ask for referrals and reviews.
TIP: In the case of closed lost trades, nurturing can help restore it. You can keep potential customers up to date by staying in touch and sending updates about product features and price changes.
Implementing Efficient Tools in B2B Inside Sales
When it comes to sales, using the right tool can have a huge impact on your bottom line. There is a wide range of software for sale, and deciding which one you should invest in can be a daunting task.
Six key sales tools for success in 2020:
It allows you to find out which companies have shown interest in your solutions and services. This very important information helps to come up with the marketing strategy and set up advertising targeting, as well as know where to direct your sales efforts.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
As soon as you find out which companies are interested, you can use this tool to further explore potential opportunities, to connect with key figures of these companies and to contact them so that you can start your sales funnel.
In order to maximize the productivity and transparency of your company's sales team, the representatives should be provided with productivity tools, giving them easy access to all the information they need and freeing up time by minimizing routine work. Voiptime Cloud is all-in-one cold calling software with built-in CRM that allows your salespeople to improve the performance. Setting up a call campaign using one of three dialing modes (Preview, Power, Predictive) lets you reach potential customers without manual dialing. This software will be pretty useful for companies that work with clients internationally and have a high volume of outgoing calls, as it has features such as compliance with DNC and local telemarketing (including FCC, Ofcom and so on).
Calendly makes this easy when it comes to planning demos. All the guesswork for finding general availability and calculating time zone differences is made for you. Due to their integration with Intercom, the presenters can independently serve the demo. You can even use their widget in your product so that customers can book an appointment with you in the application.
Updated on 2020-04-17