Are you at a loss on how to improve your team’s sales performance?
Especially in the world of B2B marketing and lead generation, making sales doesn’t just happen overnight. Closing B2B sales for major accounts is often a long-term process. For example, it involves building relationships, researching, identifying key decision makers and stakeholders. You must develop trust with everyone at the prospect’s organization who might have an influence over your sale.
You may run a small business or startup. Are you feeling some urgency to get some new deals in the pipeline? It so you may find it very easy to fall into a trap of putting pressure on yourself to close deals faster and get results “right now.” But this is a mistake. If you put too much pressure on yourself, you’re ultimately going to have that pressure leak into the tone of the conversations that you’re having with prospects. If your prospects feel pressured, they might be less likely to trust you and less receptive to continuing the sales process.
Instead of putting short-term pressure on yourself and causing stress for your prospects, it’s important to treat B2B sales like the long-term process that it is. Successful B2B sales don’t happen instantaneously; they are created over time by many small steps.
How to Improve Sales Performance
Here are a few key tips for how you can take small steps every day to get closer to your sales goals by improving sales performance.
Learn More About Your Target Market and Ideal Customer
This sounds like Marketing 101, but you’d be surprised how many businesses aren’t doing it: do you really know who your customers are? Do you have a target market “sweet spot” identified? What size of company do you want to sell to? What industry or vertical do you want to sell to? Who are the typical decision makers who are able to pull the trigger on a purchase from you – are you trying to reach C-level executives or direct managers who are in charge of a line of business?
Too many business owners are flying blind with their B2B sales prospecting, because they haven’t done the upfront work of really thinking about who they’re trying to sell to.
Set Aside Time for Prospecting
Clear your calendar every day and make time for prospecting, whether it’s prospect research, identifying target companies that you’d love to sell to, or making those all-important prospecting cold calls that can help you get a foot in the door. It sounds simple, but it’s crucial to your success. Block out an hour or two on your calendar each day. If you don’t make time for prospecting, other activities will inevitably fill in around it. If you don’t create a disciplined process for making cold calls and doing the often-unglamorous tasks of drumming up new business opportunities, your work day will disappear before your eyes.
Build Upon Your Current Network
Cold calling is one of the classic tools of the B2B sales trade, but when you’re reaching out to a prospect for the first time, it doesn’t have to be a totally “cold” call. Lay the groundwork for your sales process by working your network. LinkedIn has become massively valuable for B2B prospecting, because it helps you research, find out who you already know at a prospect’s organization, find out what are the levels of the organization, and start to map out exactly who are the key decision makers that you would want to reach with an introductory email or call.
Create Sales Funnels
Do you have a well-identified process for how to work with business leads? For example, do you know how to move the conversation along to close the deal? If not, you should. Create a sales funnel. This gives you chance to think strategically about every step. Consider what is involved with building a sales relationship with a new prospect. There might be different steps in the sales funnel for different products or solutions. As a result, some prospects might enter your sales funnel farther along than others. For example, some prospects might find your website and contact you after they’ve already watched a demo video of your product. Others might exchange business cards with you in person at a trade show.
Rank Your Sales Leads
Different prospects will have different levels of understanding about how you can help them and some will be readier to buy than others. Some sales leads really are “hot leads” that are ready to buy, while others will require longer-term nurturing, where you need to provide more information, answer more questions, cultivate trust, and support the prospect in making a decision. You need to rank your sales leads based on how urgently ready they are to buy, or by which stage they are at in the sales process.
Every day, you have the opportunity to re-evaluate. Update your understanding of which leads are really close to being ready to buy. And determine which ones need more time and nurturing. As a result, you might get new information from leads each day that affect their ranking. For example, someone might come to you and say, “We just had a budget cut” or “my boss wants to get involved in evaluating this decision.” Those leads might need to be downgraded to a lower rank. Other leads might offer more optimistic news: “our current vendor made some big mistakes and we’re ready to re-evaluate this account,” or “we need to make a decision by the end of this fiscal quarter.”
B2B sales is a nonstop process of building relationships. But it also involves evaluating market intelligence, and doing small everyday steps. You must guide and nurture prospective customers in the direction of closing a deal. You won’t find an easy way. This doesn’t happen overnight. As a result, you must take a long-term view. Do some of these small things every day. Then you can build serious momentum toward achieving your sales goals.