The sales environment has evolved for business to business sales and has significantly changed and grown into a new direction. Due to this new environment, many B2B sales obstacles are faced, regardless of the industry in which they play.
In particular, businesses are now using customer data to strengthen their relationships, make predictions, determine business behavior, and most importantly drive sales. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average number of individuals needed to complete a business-to-business transaction has risen from 5.4 to 6.8 individuals. Due to the rise in sales personnel, there are increased number of people who will face obstacles while trying to convert a sale. The following paragraphs are just some of the troubles that can be avoided in a B2B sales journey.
First and foremost, the biggest obstacle is getting visitors to your site.
Creating content that is relevant and focused on your defined target audience will drive individuals to your website. Well thought out content that is focused with a strong strategy creates a more informative search process for individuals and a better overall user experience. Content that fosters community engagement and allows your brand to strengthen in regards to testimonials and social proof that your business is a viable one can immensely build credibility in the eyes of your clients.
Once your perfectly written content is placed and building your community, the next hurdle is to convert this traffic into a sale.
Ideally, the simplest user flow that leads customers to a conversion is best. Identifying user behavior with website analytics software is the best practice. Monitoring engagement on the website will help identify which content is the most interesting to your customers, will help refine your user experience and identify which types of customers are mostly likely to convert to a sale..
More Complicated Sales
Another one of the more prevalent B2B sales obstacles is that when selling to a business, rather than an individual customer, businesses are generally seeking solutions to improve certain areas of their already existing business, for example trying to reduce operating costs or trying to increase revenue and performance.
According to McKinsey & Company, 46% of large businesses believe that the buying experience, the product price, and service all matter in the buying decision of a company. Concurrently, part of the decision making process is to give the company a peace of mind that the product will do exactly what the sales person says it will. With that in mind sales people have the challenge to create a price that is amicable for their own company, yet fair and cost-effective for the buying company and promises to do everything they advertise it does. An experienced sales team will know the market prices, what the market needs and what their competitors offer to meet this challenge.
Long Buying Cycles
The normal sales cycle is a lot longer for a business-to-business transaction than it is for a business to customer transaction, and the experienced salesperson understands this sales process. This can be a tough place to be as a sales person because they are trying to make sales goals. The pushy salesperson is not a successful strategy in B2B sales, especially when the complexity of a client’s buying process is unknown. Due to the fact that the purchase cycles are so long, the deals that happen between business-to-business transactions are so much larger than they are with the regular customer transactions.
B2B sales can be difficult in terms of personalization and making the client feel like their experience was especially tailored for them. Traditionally, the B2B customers feel like they are not being listened to in terms of their needs. Making active buyer personas that show what their wants and needs are important to making the customer feel like each interaction is personalized. Remembering who the last individual that your previous sales person talked to can alleviate that process tremendously in terms of having a more organic and natural conversation. Once you have a personalized plan for each business contact make sure to build the relationship targeted marketing via email list segmentation and with an authoritative image of your brand that will help lead the business customer to converting a sale. Becoming a prescriptive supplier as the Harvard Business Review suggests can give a more specific rationale to each one of your customers and present a concise prescription of what purchases might make sense for their business.
One final aspect that sales people will encounter is being unprepared for all phases of the B2B transaction. Good marketing executives and sales managers will have all of their scenarios mapped out for their sales team. Typically, there will be a number of steps the customer has to follow in order to convert an interest/engagement into a sale. Making sure to preemptively know all of the pitfalls and paths that can be taken will make the sales experience better for your team and the customers. Some business experts suggest creating a Supplier-Agnostic Journey, which will take the customer through a map of the process of buying with your company. Whatever approach your company decides to do will shape the business challenges that your sales team experiences. Having well planned approaches and addressing which paths create a sale will help in planning ahead for any obstacles your sales team might face.
Some final advice to sales managers and sales employees about how to handle B2B sales obstacles is to remember that there are always going to be new ones to overcome as the market evolves, but keeping a competitive approach will ease those troubles. Making a competitive analysis on your product and the products of your competitors can help give the edge that your sales team has always been looking for. Furthermore, don’t set your prices based only on competitors, but on the potential for ROI and on the value it brings to help your business customers. Happy Selling!
About the Author
Wiebke Reile works as the Social Media Strategist for the SearchFit Marketing Team. Wiebke has been social media strategist for the last eight years in the Internet Industry. She has also professionally worked in the film and television industry as a documentary film editor in New York City. Currently, she is a researcher for the University of Hawai’i and pursuing her doctorate degree in Communication and Information Sciences.