Sales & Lead Generation
How to Sell in Today’s B2B Marketplace
B2B sales have changed. What used to work is no longer possible as the B2B buyer is firmly in control.
If you want to know how to sell in today’s B2B marketplace, Nutcracker Agency’s head of content Charlotte quizzes our founder and CEO, Jenny, on what selling in today’s B2B marketplace involves – so at least that bit isn’t so complicated.
How would you describe your sales strategy?
I call it ‘connected selling’ – it’s about linking together every tool you have to better understand your potential customers. That means linking in your CRM database and making notes on your customer, researching him or her on Twitter and LinkedIn – and being aware of when their company is mentioned in the media. Do that and you’ll be able to start and maintain a conversation, and who knows where that conversation may lead.
How is connected selling different to how people sold before?
There used to be far fewer channels available to reach a prospect: mainly by phoning the prospect or by sending promotional material by direct or email. And the more calls you made and more brochures you sent, the more sales you made.
“It’s nothing like that now, now your prospects can go online and research your product, services and company without speaking to you first. They are inundated with information – whereas before we had the internet and social media they may never have heard of you. In some ways, it’s harder now than it was before, but in some ways, it’s easier.
How is B2B selling harder than it was before?
It’s harder because a potential client may have preconceptions about your business – so there are barriers in place before you make a sales call. To counter this sales teams have switched to email, yet this culture of sending emails will never be effective. We all receive dozens of emails every day, it is very difficult to make your email stand out, yet a lot of salespeople rely on this method to sell.
Very often there’s more than one decision-maker too. Whereas before the director or head of sales alone might make the decision to purchase, now there might be a product manager, an external agency and so on. When you’re making your approach you need to be aware of the different decisions makers and influencers – and you need to structure your approach so it appeals to all of them. Put yourself in the shoes of each person involved in making the decision.
How is B2B selling easier than it was before?
By using platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn an effective salesperson can learn a lot of information about a prospect they want to target. They can start conversations through social media and can position themselves as thought leaders on the subject and making sure their products and services are front of mind on social by regularly posting relevant content and comments. In the same way, refined sales and marketing technologies like Cognism and Hubspot provide a great way of connecting your marketing and sales strategies - as long as your outbound messaging hits the right mark with your target audience. Content remains king in this regard.
What role does content marketing play in all this?
Done properly, content marketing can be highly effective – but it’s vital that leads are followed up correctly. Often a business will produce a thought leadership article and then sit back and wait for their inbox to fill up. It doesn’t work that way. They should be contacting the people who commented on the article and who engaged with it via marketing channels – that’s where the leads are. People are hiding behind email and not talking anymore. It’s only through conversations that you discover what your prospective customers want and need.
So how should sales directors adapt their approach?
Before anything, a good sales director needs a strong team who feel like a team. Selling is not about being individualist, that’s a common mistake people make. A strong sales team must be motivated by more than money, they need to feel connected to their colleagues, to the brand, products and services they’re selling. Managers make assumptions about their sales team. If somebody isn’t selling they need to figure out why. Most people don’t leave a company they leave a manager.
What three things should a sales executive do today?
First of all, take a step out and write a list of 20 key prospects you want to close. Secondly, take 10 minutes to research five of those prospects and keep doing that every day so that when you see something relevant, you can get in touch. Thirdly, lighten up! A lot of people in sales takes themselves far too seriously. Relax and people will want to do business with you.
Want to have a chat with Jenny and find out how the Nutcracker approach to sales and marketing could help your business achieve its goals? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us today.