Understanding How B2B Sales Work for Professional Services Firms

Outlining the processes and tools essential to successful B2B sales

The definition of B2B sales says it is the transaction between two businesses. Parallels are drawn between B2B and B2C sales, but the B2B sales are quite different from the B2C sales. The strategies that work in B2C sales are almost futile in B2B sales. A B2B sales process is a highly complex undertaking that involves a sophisticated approach to target every client. It starts from the market research, prospecting, sales pitch, and objection handling and ends with closing the sales and follow-up. B2B sales playbook, sales tools, strategic frameworks, proprietary software, and much more are involved in the sale process.

This post will look into the basic aspects of B2B sales for professional service firms.   

How is B2B Sales Different From B2C Sales?

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B2B sales are distinctively different from B2C sales. In B2B sales, a business is selling to another business. Thus, the prospective buyer is highly educated. Your business needs a well-trained B2B sales team to target prospects effectively. Whereas in B2C sales, a company sells to the end customers. Have a look at some key points of differences between B2B sales and B2C sales.

Target audience

In business-to-business sales, the target audience is limited. Unlike B2C sales, a business is not selling to millions of customers. Instead, a B2B company has a few hundred clients to target. Therefore, sales strategies such as account-based marketing are often used in the business-to-business sales process. 

Multiple decision-makers

There are multiple decision-makers involved in the B2B sales. A professional services company has to identify the key decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders. The involvement of multiple decision-makers complicates the sales process and makes it longer than withB2C sales, where only one person is involved in the decision-making.   

Long sales cycle

Business-to-business sales are more about building the partnership than selling the product. According to CSO Insights, 46.4% of B2B sales to new customers take longer than seven months to complete. In B2C sales, customers can make impulsive decisions based on the trends, but B2B sales include dealing with educated prospective buyers with specific needs. It is a collaborative approach where the focus is less transactional and more consultative.

Higher price points

B2B solutions and products come at higher price points. Thus, the pricing strategy varies from client to client based on the solution required. Whereas in B2C sales, there is standard pricing for all the customers.  

After-sales support

B2C customers do not need dedicated support to learn to use the product. Whereas, in the B2B professional service industry, a company needs dedicated after-sales staff to make the buyer’s sales journey easy. For example, an IT services firm that wants to sell the new software to prospective clients needs an onboarding agent to help a business get started with the software. The process does not end only at successfully selling the software solution. The IT company needs dedicated support staff to provide technical support and a customer success manager to cultivate the relationship with the existing client.   

What is the Typical Process of B2B Sales?

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Due to the very nature of the B2B industry, the B2B sales process is highly sophisticated. Some steps in the process may vary from industry to industry or depend on the company, but the standard workflow includes:

Market research 

Market research helps a B2B salesperson understand the potential of the market, competitors, and the target audience. It can be done by purchasing the data from data collection companies or using various methods of data collection. It also helps determine how well the product or service will fit into the marketplace.

Prospecting

The obtained data is analyzed, and based on various factors, a B2B salesperson finds the potential customers. A variety of factors such as a client’s needs, interest and budget, revenue potential, and profit margins are taken into account while prospecting. The purpose is to ensure that prospects are a good fit for the sales team.  

Reaching the prospects

 Marketing material is directed to the potential clients to gain their attention and schedule a demo. B2B businesses can use both outbound and inbound marketing techniques to create leads and drive B2B sales growth. The outbound marketing strategy includes cold calling, direct email, social media advertisements, and texting. At the same time, an inbound marketing strategy includes generating a portion of leads via forms, trade shows, email marketing, advertising, and other channels.   

Sales pitch 

Sales pitching is the most important step where a salesperson meets the potential client and explains how the company’s product or services are the right fit. As Steve Jobs once said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” A salesperson needs to show the client what they want. The product demo takes the most energy and often decides whether or not a client will purchase the product or services.              

Objection handling

Objection handling focuses on figuring out the concerns a client still has and finding out a solution. Concerns can be related to some unfulfilled need or with pricing. A good B2B salesperson uses negotiation skills to convert this into leads.    

Closing the sales

By this step, a B2B salesperson has addressed all the concerns of the clients. Only the official paperwork is left. It is very important for a salesperson not to hurry at this stage and if the client is still hesitant to make the purchase, provide them with additional meetings, B2B sales consulting, or a product demo.    

Follow up

In the B2B industry, the role of a salesperson does not end with sales. A salesperson or a dedicated customer success representative works with a client to ensure that the client is successful with the product. This determines a client’s experience with the brand and helps in customer retention and expansion.

What are the Common Tools Used in the B2B Sales Process?

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Various tools are used to devise the B2B sales strategy, execute the sales campaign, and track the results. A B2B firm needs a sales playbook, sales growth model, CRM software, and proprietary tools to manage the sales process.

Sales playbook

A B2B sales playbook is the guide that includes all the information related to the sales process. It specifies the standard operational procedures, key processes, the flow of communication, and roles and responsibilities of every individual involved in the sales process.

CRM software 

CRM software plays a vital role in any B2B organization sales process. CRM stands for customer relationship management. CRM software provides a centralized platform for marketers and salespeople to report, manage, and analyze all the communication with people. It also allows a business to perform various operations such as marketing automation, sales automation, leads management, and analytics.    

Proprietary tools and framework

There are many proprietary tools and frameworks provided by the B2B sales consultants to inject speed, alignment, and accelerated growth into the DNA of a firm. A B2B business can use the proprietary processes, strategies, and frameworks to create a sales model that strikes the right balance between sales efficiency and effectiveness. The model takes a pragmatic approach to transform the sales processes, talent, and tools to deliver immediate and sustainable sales growth.

How can a professional B2B consultant help a business?  

A professional B2B consultant helps professional services firms devise their B2B sales strategy. The role of a B2B business consultant includes analyzing the business needs, recognizing the challenges, and helping B2B sales teams create the right winning strategies.

A B2B consultant helps a professional services firm find the right tools, sales playbook, and proprietary framework to run an effective sales campaign that accelerates growth.

If you are looking for a B2B consultant to inject speed, knowledge, and accelerated growth into B2B Financial Services, Technology, and Professional Service Firms, you can partner with Company Expert. We have designed a Growth Accelerator SystemTM (GAS) that systematically fuels growth to your B2B firm. 

5 Effective B2B Strategic Planning Tools to Consider in 2022

How Can B2B Strategic Planning Tools Help You Achieve Your Business Goals?

Creating a well-developed plan and refreshing it is essential for the sustainable growth of every professional service firm. Every business should have proper planning in order to know its current state, future goals, and strategies to analyze and achieve targets. A successful business plan requires commitment, strategy, and the right business planning tools.

Strategic planning is all about the long term goals, big picture decisions, and even the existence of the organization. It acts behind the scenes for a business, and to make the most of it, you must use the B2B planning tools. In this blog post, we are sharing 5 effective and efficient B2B strategic planning tools that you should consider in 2022 and beyond. So, read on to know more about these tools and their benefits in B2B strategic planning.

E.S.T. Tool

PEST stands for Political, Economic, Social, and Technological factors. It is a business measurement tool that is used to identify external influences affecting the growth and development of a business.

  • Political – The political environment, political stability, next elections, government laws, and policies that may affect the business.
  • Economic – The change in interest rate, growth rates, or inflation, and the stability of the current economy are considered.
  • Social – The change in lifestyle of people may affect your organization’s target demographic.Education, health, generation shifts, and religious beliefs are some of the important factors that are covered in this category.
  • Technological – Understanding the technological changes impacting the business and their pace is necessary for an organization.

The change in the business environment can bring both threats and opportunities for an organization. A business can’t control all these external factors, but this tool is all about gathering the information and using it effectively for the success of the business. It helps to understand these factors and increase the chance of planning for upcoming challenges rather than reactive decisions.

4 Reasons to use PEST Analysis Tool 

  • It warns you of the upcoming threats and helps spot the opportunities.
  • It helps you adapt according to the changes in the business environment.
  • It helps you understand the risk so that you can stop working on the things that are likely to fail in the future.
  • It helps you make decisions based on facts rather than assumptions.

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M.A.R.T Objective Tool

Setting achievable goals, and focusing on achieving the goals, is important for an individual as well as a business to be successful. But, another element that is important in order to meet goals is to monitor your progress and make changes in the strategy if required. The SMART business tool provides a structured approach to developing and designing a work plan and helps monitor your progress towards a target. We should consider every element of the SMART tool while setting a goal.

  • Specific – Set a clear, specific goal. If you know what and why you want to achieve a goal, you’ll understand how you can achieve it.
  • Measurable – Set metrics to track the progress towards your goalMeasuring the progress, rewarding yourself in every small achievement, and evaluating the strategy are important.
  • Achievable –Another important thing that you should know before setting a goal is that it should be achievable. It will help you stay focused and motivated. 
  • Relevant – Is your goal contributing towards your broader objective? Think about it and set a relevant goal that benefits your organization.
  • Time – Keep a time frame for every goal so that you can work hard to achieve it before the deadline.But, the time frame should be realistic. 

Setting a SMART goal for your B2B business helps you understand the steps and resources needed to achieve that goal. So, if you want to achieve the goal efficiently and effectively, use SMART objective tools to set SMART goals, monitor and measure its progress, and achieve your goal.

Porter’s Five Forces Tool 

Understanding your competitors is essential for every business. So, Porter’s five forces is a powerful tool that helps you understand your competition. According to Michal Porter, the five forces representing the key sources for competitive pressure in an industry are –

  • Competitive Rivalry – The strength and weakness of your competitors, quality of their products & services may affect your campaigns.
  • Supplier Power – Assessment of how easy it is for the suppliers to increase their prices. If you have more suppliers, you can switch to a cheaper alternative, but if there are fewer suppliers, you will have to rely on them.
  • Buyer Power – When you have many buyers and little competition, your power increases, but if you have a few powerful buyers, they can dictate and drive prices down.
  • The Threat of Substitution – When people get a cheap or easy substitute for what you are offering, it may weaken and threaten your profitability.
  • The Threat of New Entry – A business should have a strong barrier to entry to make a favorable position in the market. Otherwise, rivals can enter your market easily and weaken your position.

This tool helps measure competition intensity and assesses the attractiveness of an industry. A business can use it to understand the factors affecting their profitability so that they can make informed decisions and develop effective competitive strategies.

A.C.I. Tool

This tool helps in defining the role and responsibilities of people, which helps improve the chances of success of a project or strategy. The R.A.C.I. is a visual representation of the key stakeholders involved in a process.

  • Responsible – It includes people working on a project and making important decisions.
  • Accountable – The person approving the task and decisions is accountable for the success and failure of the project.
  • Consulted – These people are active participants who give input, feedback, and any future changes.
  • Informed – People who don’t contribute to the decision or task but need updates on progress or decisions regarding the project.

The tool helps establish a clear description of the roles and responsibilities of the team members. It allows the management team to identify members responsible for different aspects of a project. The R.A.C.I. tools can be used to find overworked employees, organize the process, assign projects effectively, and train new employees.

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SWOT Analysis Tool 

It is one of the most popular business assessment tools used by businesses to analyze their strength and weaknesses in a business environment. This tool helps B2B businesses in strategic planning, and here’s all you need to know about this easy-to-use tool.

  • Strength – The qualities that make you unique, the tangible assets, or the type of internal assets are some of the strengths of a business. It includes the internal and positive things of an organization that reduce the chance of risks.
  • Weakness – The more weaknesses, the greater the risks. These are internal but negative in nature. Some of the weaknesses of an organization are resource limitation, crowded market, or strong competition. 
  • Opportunity – These are external, so you can’t control them, but opportunities are positive in nature. So, you can take advantage of the opportunities to reduce the risks.
  • Threat – Threats can also be not controlled by an organization as they are external. But, they are negative, so it’s important to assess the threats because they can create problems for your business.

Benefits of a SWOT Analysis 

  • It is data-driven, and you can use the information for the betterment of your organization in the long run.
  • SWOT analysisis not only about gathering the data. It also stimulates critical thinking.
  • You only have to invest some time in SWOT analysis, and it costs nothing.
  • It can be used for various products, services, or the overall growth of the company.

So, these are the five important strategic planning tools that can help you convert your B2B goals into achievements. Planning is the first and most important step towards a goal. Therefore, whether you have short-term goals or long-term, planning is essential for your business.

Strategic planning tools are helpful for every B2B business, and the products of Company Expert can make things easier for you. You can use our business planning tools to create a robust, fact-based business plans for the sustainable growth of your business. Make an informed decision and create a clear road map with us to achieve your business goals.