b2b sales fundamentals

B2B Sales Fundamentals: Back to the Basics

11 March 2021

Over the years, B2B sales has gotten easier — there are more tools, more data, and far more ways to connect with prospects.  The problem is many sales teams are so used to the fancy tools and snazzy reports that they forget to focus on the fundamentals of B2B sales. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm not knocking sales prospecting tools or your color-coded pivot tables.

(I love a good pivot table.)

Despite all the shiny new toys and powerful tools, there is no substitution for B2B sales fundamentals — especially when everything hits the fan.

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How to approach B2B sales in a post-COVID world

COVID has changed everything. Travel is on its last leg; in-person meetings are minimal; budgets are tighter.

This is why it’s precisely the right time to make sure you have a strong foundation before you dig into all the bells and whistles.

In the past, B2B buyers approached sales early in the buying cycle, often while they were still researching solutions.

Why? Because they needed information.

Today we carry the entirety of human knowledge in our pockets. Want to know when the first computer was invented or how to integrate Google Analytics and Google Search Console?

That information is at your fingertips.

As a result, prospects are coming to sales with far more information than ever before. They know their options, they know what your tool/service does.

That's changed the sales process — but it hasn't changed the fundamentals.

If you are struggling to close deals, it might be time to go back to the basics.

You need better leads

Salespeople can’t sell if they don’t have quality leads — and more isn't always better. So how do you find prospects that are actually interested in what you have to offer?

You won't find good leads on a purchased contact list, so that’s out.

Friends pivot gif

Instead, use these tips to find qualified leads in a post-COVID world.

Ask for referrals from current clients: Ask current customers if they know anyone looking for a similar solution or even share a list of companies you are targeting and see if they can introduce you to any of their contacts.

Use Buyer intent data: Leverage tools like Leadfeeder to see what companies come to your website and what pages they read. Use that data to find the right contact and personalize your pitch based on their interests and needs.

Speaking of tools, if you’re debating between Leadfeeder and VisitorQueue, we’ve compiled the facts.

Give account-based marketing a try: Make a list of ideal customers in your industry and plan a customer-focused, omnichannel approach to reach out.  A combination of email, voicemail, phone, and social media – especially LinkedIn — can help you reach and convert ideal customers without waiting for them to come to you.

Events: In-person events might be on hold, but the value of events remains. Host a webinar or offer to speak at a digital conference. You can provide expert advice and build trust with people in your industry.

Build real relationships

Sales guides will tell you that sales is about relationships; this checks out.

While the need to build relationships hasn't changed, how we build relationships has done a 180.

Back in the day, building sales relationships was about sending pricey holiday gifts and taking prospects out for expensive lunches. Today, it's about building online relationships so prospects come to you when they need a solution.

Daniel Disney, the Daily Sales founder, recommends building a personal brand on LinkedIn by being authentic.

"Just be genuine, be real, be truthful. There's a big thing in social media where people will post how everything's perfect, they'll take perfect photos, they'll write these perfect stories about how great they're doing, but very few people actually get real and share real insights about their struggles, their challenges."

Building relationships is the core of sales, and it's actually easier than ever through online platforms like LinkedIn.

Ask the right B2B sales questions

Data matters.  But it's not all that matters.

Using a data-driven sales approach can improve profitability, but asking the right questions can be even more effective. Asking questions — and actually listening to answers — provides critical info you need to create personalized pitches.

So, what questions should you ask? Like most things in sales, the answer depends on your industry and business.

Here are a few questions that will inform your B2B sales process:

  • How did you find out about our solution? Knowing where your most valuable prospects find you can help you understand what matters to them. For example, if they heard about you from a trusted peer, they’re likely to value case studies and reviews.

  • What solutions have you tried? This question can highlight pain points so you know what features to focus on. For example, if they've tried a competitor but struggled to scale, you might stress how your integrations help streamline workflows.

  • What does your decision-making process look like? This will help you understand who you need to talk to and what data they may need to close the deal.

  • What is your budget? Understanding how much the prospect will spend can qualify leads and might indicate you need to focus on proving value. For example, if they have a low budget, you might focus on cost savings.

  • What is your main concern about this solution? Doubt can kill a deal. Asking what might hold the sale back allows you to offer solutions before that seed of doubt grows. For example, if you notice that they’re continuously re-visiting your pricing page, they might be comparing you with a competitor. Address pricing concerns on the next call.

Questions make it easier to provide the right information, which improves the efficiency of the sales process. Stop talking at leads and take a few minutes to really listen to what matters to them. Your bottom line will thank you.

Overcome objections

Nothing shuts down a great pitch like an unexpected objection.

While you can't prevent objections (nor should you try), you can be prepared with a smooth response.

Big Bang Theory meme

Start by making a list of common objections. Price, lack of buy-in, timing, and needing to talk to decision-makers are common objectives in every market. Develop responses and next steps to help overcome those objectives.

Then, dig deeper to find less-common objectives such as missing features or integrations with current systems. Ask other salespeople, look at customer service data, or use a poll to ask existing customers what objections held them back.

Once you have a solid list of objections, build in (short) responses to your sales funnel. For example, if you know that most people are worried about price, you might add an email covering how your solution improves ROI.

Your goal should be to anticipate every objection before prospects bring them up. You'll look like a mind-reading superhero, and prospects will have the info they need to move forward.

Track, tweak, repeat

If you can't measure it, you can't improve it, or so the old saying goes.

Dwight metrics meme

When it comes to sales, though, it's not just tracking metrics that matter; it's ensuring you track the right metrics.

To make tracking more complicated, the metrics that matter change over time. When you are first scaling sales, you might want more leads and care less about qualification. Later, when efficiency becomes an issue and you have more data, you might focus on leaks in your sales funnel or figuring out what makes a lead more qualified.

Despite the fact that metrics can (and should) change over time, there are a few you should always keep an eye on.

  • Any metrics related to your top customers: If you want to get more of your best clients, you need to understand who they are, what they need, and where they come from. 

  • Metrics that indicate where prospects drop off: Track conversion rates stage-by-stage to locate weak points in your sales process. For example, if 50 percent of site visitors sign up for a demo but only 2 percent purchase, your demos may not be providing the information prospects need. 

Use these and other metrics that matter to your business like revenue or average deal size to build and test new strategies. Rinse and repeat to build the most effective sales process. In fact, you should never stop tracking and tweaking. 

The fundamentals of B2B sales matter more now than ever

The COVID crisis has turned a lot of sales strategies upside down. The lack of events, conferences, and in-person meetings may have put a damper on sales.

Is it time to toss out the playbook?

Not at all. Instead, focus on the fundamentals of sales and update your approaches. The best way to weather any storm is to stay focused on what matters — the people.

Note: You’d consider the companies clicking around your site as warm leads, right? Same. Get a list of those companies with Leadfeeder’s 14-day free trial.

Carol Martindale
By Carol Martindale

Carol currently oversees Leadfeeder’s Agency Partnership program at Leadfeeder but has played almost every role under the sun in the past 4 and a half years that she’s been with Leadfeeder. Her experience with sales, marketing, customer support and operations has given her a unique vantage point, and it’s never a dull moment! She’s a mom of two, has traveled to 25+ countries, is a poker player, and her drink of choice is Scotch. 

Connect with Carol on LinkedIn.

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