What are the top B2B sales strategies high growth tech companies are using?
I hate e-sports.
Getting my heartrate up and some sweat on the brow, or being courtside at a live game, is what I prefer to sitting in front of a screen. But e-sports is exploding, growing by 50% from 2020 to 2021 to go over the US $1 billion mark.
B2B sales is reflective of this general trend, especially for high tech companies. The B2B sales strategies that are delivering success still have a team of people at their heart but are highly reliant on a digital approach. This is because the way companies buy from other companies is transforming, so the approach of tech companies to selling their innovations needs to keep moving too.
For even the largest enterprise technology sales to the most senior decision-makers at the largest businesses, digital plays a part. What was traditionally a pitched battle of valiant sales people pushing complex transactions forward, has become a more interactive, technology-driven process.
Modern B2B tech buyers typically display these five characteristics:
- Search and research savvy: even the most senior decision-makers will use online sources and tools (from Googling to social media, to industry publications online to review sites, to webinars and more) to research a business problem and the potential technology solutions to it.
- Move at their own pace: they understand your quarterly sales cycle but want to move when it suits them.
- ‘Sales pitch’ averse: they want sales interactions that are not hard selling of features and benefits, but intelligent discussion about their issues and how these could be addressed.
- Team players: most B2B tech buying is done by a group. C-suite will likely sign it off, but a group of people (e.g. project managers, domain experts, IT staff) are almost always involved in doing the research, understanding the solutions and undertaking assessments.
- Arrive well equipped and well informed: sellers no longer control the flow of information so buyers turn up knowing a lot about your solution space, your competitors and what potential return you could deliver.
In this context how can you increase B2B sales? It is more complex, more muti-faceted and more digital. You can’t just rely on talented sales execs to drive enterprise sales. It’s about building and equipping a digitally empowered sales team. That team will range from SDRs (sales development representatives) uncovering and qualifying leads through to senior people closing deals, all backed with lead generation and nurturing by digital marketing. According to data from LinkedIn via HubSpot, 94% of highest performing salespeople believe marketing is delivering them quality leads.
How can you get there?
Step 1 is agreeing a ‘playbook’. Like any good team, you need a set of agreed ‘plays’ or approaches to the game of B2B selling to get the best result. Key plays might include:
- How prospecting is done - i.e. where do your leads from, both inbound (e.g. website enquiries) and outbound (outreach by sales).
- What constitutes a ‘good fit’ lead – a shared definition of the size, maturity, industry or other attributes that make for a customer for which you know you can deliver a great outcome.
- Agreed sales process from initial engagement to closed won/lost – again a shared understanding of the sales funnel stages, and what threshold needs to be reached to move to the next stage (e.g. we have completed a discovery session with the client).
- Pricing – if a fixed price list isn’t in play, what is the process for specifying and confirming a quoted price.
- Approach to quotes and proposals – agreeing standard formats for presenting statement of works, proposals, quotes or any other transactional sales documents.
- How this is tracked in your CRM – having a consistent and disciplined approach to entering data into your CRM and then using it to manage prospects through the buyer journey.
Back to the e-sports analogy, having ‘good game’ in B2B selling is also highly dependent on the right tech. There’s simply too much to do and too much to track to not use tools.
According to the Market Measures study, B2B sales productivity could be improved. The average NZ tech salesperson has 3.4 quality conversations per day, as compared to 5.1 in the US. Tech companies there will use 4 B2B sales enablement tools per team, compared to 1.9 here.
What tools to use then? The latest map of martech vendors has the sector pushing past 10,000 solutions. Everything from the core CRM to performance and analytics to ABM to sales enablement. In 2011 when Concentrate started building out our martech capability the list was in the 100s. (If you really want to get into the weeds search the entire database here - free registration required).
For those that don’t have time to trawl through 10K apps, what are the basics of an effective B2B sales tech stack? I should first note that Concentrate is a partner of HubSpot, a CRM platform that spans across the areas below.
- CRM e.g. Salesforce, Zoho CRM, Pipedrive – your core database of companies, contacts and the sales deals or opportunities you are pursuing.
- Website CMS e.g. WordPress, Joomla – to manage your website content, and keep it current and attractive to buyers.
- Marketing automation e.g. Mailchimp, Zoominfo, Google Analytics, Databox, ActiveCampaign – a platform for driving your digital marketing activity, such as landing pages, email workflows and performance analytics.
- Content delivery / amplification e.g. WordPress, Buffer, LinkedIn Ads, Google Ads, GoToWebinar – to get your useful content (e.g. whitepapers or webinars) to your target personas.
- B2B Sales enablement e.g. Calendly, Seismic, Paperflite, LevelJump – tools that allow sales people to work faster and smarter.
There are many more categories of tech, but these five are a great start to creating a solid sales-supporting stack. Here at Concentrate we use the HubSpot CRM platform for our own business and support it for our customers. It covers all of these key functions and provides the advantage of all sitting on a single database so you have one source of truth. HubSpot is strong when it comes to workflow automation, integrating with other apps, scaling with you and providing educational resources.
How do you get going with building a B2B selling team that is more e-sports than old school locker room? There are four key steps:
- Have a clear view of how your prospects typically move through buying process, and especially what digital channels they use
- Create shared understanding within your team with a sales playbook
- Digitally-empower your sales team to be successful, particularly with CRM and sales enablement tools
- Build alignment between marketing and sales with agreed key performance indicators, e.g. agreed targets for marketing qualified leads.
We covered a lot of these strategies in our recent Techweek webinar, click here to watch on-demand
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