How to sell in the B2B market – The route from meeting to signing the contract

How to sell in the B2B market

How to sell in the B2B market – The main steps towards concluding a deal with a client in the B2B market.

To whom to sell? Compiling the TOP of relevant companies

Before proceeding with the sale, we monitor the market and determine our target audience among corporations. In other words, we form the TOP of potentially promising client companies, checking them for compliance:

  • Necessities: your product is applicable to the company’s activities;
  • Financial capabilities of the client in relation to the price of the product;
  • Purchase volume. Here you can monitor the history of the company’s cooperation with competitors or independently estimate the approximate volume of purchases based on information from external sources.

Customer roadmap

Customer journey map (CJM) - literally translated as a customer journey map. And it includes the entire history of communication with the company, from acquaintance to the moment the transaction is concluded.

The roadmap allows you to see the depth of interaction with the client, the decisions made, the ways of communication, and helps to plan further steps towards cooperation with him.

How to sell in the B2B market

A priority company is selected for the study, which needs to be turned from a potential client into an existing one, and answer a number of key questions:

  • Who is your client in this corporation? A company’s purchasing process involves many individuals who have different roles, needs, and expectations for your product. Think of all the possible decision makers involved in the decision and mark them on the map. Later, you can return to this section and form a working proposal for each decision maker individually, based on his professional requirements for the product.
  • Purpose of the purchase? The goals of all persons involved in the purchase in the B2B market are directly related to the business, both in terms of the development of the company as a whole and personal professional growth. Therefore, the purchase decision is made rationally, based on the effectiveness and benefits of your product. But do not forget about emotions – nothing human is alien even in the B2B market.
  • Key steps towards a treaty. Here we note the main stages that will have to go through, regardless of the intermediate results of the development of events. These include financial planning and the company’s budget cycle; product presentation stages (preparation of an offer, meeting with a client, decision making, contract negotiations); bureaucratic processes (check by the security service, agreement and signing of the contract). These stages involve many people from different departments, each of which will influence the course of events. Therefore, we start by drawing up a standard route and adjust it in the process.
  • Points of contact between the decision maker and your product. These are sources of information about the product: corporate websites, social networks, blogs, word of mouth, etc. , as well as communication channels preferred by the client – work mail, instant messengers or telephone conversations. There is an opinion that a customer needs to see your product at least 7 times before he develops trust in your brand.

A roadmap can either display the entire path of winning a client, or be separate for each communication channel.

Who are LPRs? Communication within the company

Decision makers (decision makers) – opinion leaders in the structure of the corporation, top management, business owners, department directors, department heads, etc. Often they do not negotiate directly, and then communication is built with managers to whom the task has been delegated: specialized specialists or managers of the purchasing department, a specialized department created to work with suppliers.

Regardless of the regalia of the contact person - any communication in the company is important! Quite often, managers can make independent decisions and are more effective than directors.

How to find an LPR?

It is not difficult to find a decision maker of a company of interest. There are several simple ways to do this:

LinkedIn is the best, in my opinion, working platform: we find the right company, make a selection by region and get a list of valuable contacts . In Russia, LinkedIn works only through VPN, but this does not prevent the professional community from actively using it.

Facebook. Here it is not always possible to find the full name by the name of the company, rather the opposite. However, it is an ideal communication tool, especially when it comes to exploring a person’s interests.

Industry groups and communities. Depending on the profile of the company, communities can be anywhere, for example, I use FB and Telegram. Here you can find everything from contact persons to feedback on cooperation with them.

Mass media, forums and profile events. As a rule, the decision makers of large companies are people known in their circles, and information about them can be found in open sources: the media, lists of participants in awards, industry events, forums, and so on.

Websites of competitors . Here we study the section with reviews and scans of letters of recommendation, as a rule, they are certified by the right contact person. This method has an obvious disadvantage – the customer’s loyalty to a competitor, which means that it will be most difficult to establish contact with him. Personally, I do not welcome this format of dating: you can quickly earn your client if you do not follow in the footsteps of competitors. But this method will help you quickly understand the market.

Acquaintance with the LPR

Before declaring ourselves, we get acquainted with the client in absentia –studying his activities, both within the company and external interests: what he is fond of, what projects he leads, what tasks he sets for himself. Information about the interests of the client will help you navigate the question of how and where to get to know him.

The goal is to understand the field of activity of the decision maker so well as to determine its uncovered benefit, on the basis of which to form a proposal.

Proposal preparation

First of all, we honestly determine our starting position in the market:

  1. Your product is not unique and the client is already working with a similar supplier.

You should always remember that there are no two identical products on the market, each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Even if your competitor is an honorary winner of all awards and occupies a larger market share, and you are just making yourself known, you will always find the benefits of working with you – it can be a boutique approach, new technology, simplified communication, better prices. Moreover, many clients like to work with small and young teams that have not yet lost their enthusiasm and are ready to put their heart and soul into their project.

Important rule! By focusing the client's attention on the advantages of your product, do not hurt the professional qualities of a competitor.

A demonstrative demonstration of the competitor’s weaknesses does not decorate you and belittles the choice of the customer, so your “expert opinion” can only spoil everything.

Offer positive improvements, show how working with you can enhance an already good product, making it even better, and making the client happier.

2. You have developed something that is not yet on the market.

Definitely, your strength is in the uniqueness of the product. And this should be used. The market is hungry for new offers, and the client’s interest most often prevails over the fear of buying an unknown product. Form an offer from the standpoint of the benefits that the client will receive by getting acquainted with your product in action.

The Power of Negotiation

Many books have been written about the art of negotiation – you need to read them, but you can only learn through constant practice. Sales are directly dependent on communication skills, which need to be developed along with the expertise of your product. I would highlight two important factors:

1. No matter how high the status of the decision maker, talk to him from a position of strength. Your strength is in your expertise.

The client must feel in you a leader who will help solve his problem. If you are afraid, nothing will work. The market is not much different from the wild, people have animal instincts and reflexively prefer those who are stronger than them.

2. The client is interested in sincere involvement in solving his problem, and not your desire to sell.

Cooperation will develop when communication looks like a trip to a good psychologist, where the client is not afraid to share his deep professional “pains”, and the seller is able to listen and offer the key to solving his problem.

Deal cycle

The transaction cycle is the time period from the first contact with the client until the conclusion of the contract. In the B2B segment, the transaction cycle can reach several months, where the short cycle is 2–3 months, and the long cycle is from 3 or more. This is due to the decision-making vertical, the company’s bureaucratic processes, approval systems, and so on.

Often, the deal cycle becomes a problem for small companies in terms of financial planning, requiring constant expansion of sales and the conclusion of contracts with new customers in order to prevent cash gaps.

Sales within the company

If you have already signed a contract, you have carte blanche in your hands, which you need to use wisely. Consider each project with the company as a long-term prospect for cooperation. A signed contract simplifies communication with all departments within the company, which is mutually beneficial for both you and the customer.

Do your job well, and then the customer will recommend you to colleagues in other departments, and your sales volume will begin to grow within one corporation. Scaling sales within the company is the most fertile and effective way of development.

Selling in the B2B market is a large-scale process that takes into account many human factors in tandem with a clear strategy, visual packaging of the product, a degree of trust in the brand and, directly, in you as a person. Only the combination of all these factors influences the customer’s decision to purchase your product.

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