5 steps to mastering the art of B2B selling
Many people don't see themselves as salespeople. But no matter what sort of business you're in, or where you work within a business, you are selling to almost everyone you meet. Every day.
For example, you are selling when you want to persuade something to:
- buy your product or service
- agree with your ideas in a meeting
- approve a loan at the bank
- change an existing procedure
- employ a new staff member
- accept that you are credible, trustworthy, an authority on a topic, etc.
The list goes on.
Of course, when it comes to B2B sales, it's one thing to understand that selling is part of life. It's another to be comfortable doing it. And doing it well.
Here are 5 core steps to successful selling in a business to other businesses.
Do your research
Before you can create value for a potential customer, you need to understand a little about your target market - the way they do things, how they do them and what they struggle with.
Use social media and Google search to find answers to the following questions:
- What appears to be their needs?
- Where are they looking to take their business next?
- What are their peers/competitors doing?
- What's going to motivate them to meet with you?
- How can your product or service add value?
- What language will build rapport with this person/business and its employees?
- What industry knowledge is going to be relevant to their circumstances?
Make a list of questions you can refer to during a pitch or meeting. But only use them as a guide. You don't want it to come across as staged.
Focus on the people, not on your pitch
The first meeting is not all about pitching your product or service. Even having done your research, there's still going to be a lot to learn about the prospect. Ask questions that will help them explain what they are looking for, or trying to solve.
Use the long-lost art of active listening to get the most out of the session:
- Pose thoughtful questions (be curious about their business and challenges)
- Listen to the resulting conversation, without interrupting (let them do most of the talking)
- Repeat key messages back to them, to verify (and write these key messages down)
It takes confidence in yourself and your knowledge of the product to be able to stand back and listen, when the tendency is to deliver your pitch. But conveying genuine interest is vital at this stage.
Gain an advantage by being a problem solver
'To be the best salesperson, put yourself in the shoes of the person to whom you're selling. Don't sell your product. Solve their problem.' Mark Cuban - Entrepreneur, Author, Billionaire
Your goal is to improve someone's condition. If you can solve a problem in a customised or unique way that sets you apart from your competitors, you've gained a noticeable advantage.
Contributing, and not just selling, puts you in a much stronger position when it comes time to talk about the details of your offer.
Get in step with their personality
Understanding the personality type of your potential customer helps you work out the best way to approach them. Here are the 4 personality types:
- Expressives - talkative, fast paced story-tellers who love attention, and have big social circles.
- Drivers task - driven, fast paced go-getters that are born leaders, and get things done.
- Analysts - slow paced, thinkers, methodical task lovers who analyse before making a decision.
- Amiables - steady paced, friendly team builders, who care about people and building relationships.
Can you see yourself in one or more of these?
Most people are a mix of each, but will have one type that stands out more than others.
Your presentation style - even what aspects of your own personality you reveal - will depend on the type of people you are interacting with. Adjust your style according to what's important to them.
Establish a human connection
'Selling is something we do for our clients not to our clients.' Zig Ziglar Author 'See You At The Top', Salesman, Motivational speaker
How we make people feel when communicating is 93% non-verbal, and happens in the first few seconds.
The ability to come across as credible, trustworthy, likeable, and competent in a very short space of time is vitally important when selling. Your handshake and eye contact will speak volumes.
When the time is right, let the conversation occasionally drift into personal details about your life outside of work, and the things that you are passionate about that have nothing to do with your job.
It's important to be professional, but being personable is also part of good salesmanship. If people like and trust you, they'll want to do business with you.
And remember, when communicating on your phone, SMS, email, instant message or other technology, always keep in mind that there's a person on the receiving end. Ask yourself, 'would I feel respected by this message?' It can make or break a deal.
No matter who you are selling to, or what you are selling, success generally comes down to three things:
- The emotional buy-in of your prospect (if they don't care, they'll never say yes)
- Your ability to build and establish rapport (if they don't like and trust you, they won't say yes)
- How well you tick the customer's initial must-have boxes (the things they feel that they need, even if they're not as important as other things).
By following the five steps above, you'll have a far better idea of what matters to your customer and the things they are concerned and excited about in relation to what you're offering.
And when a prospect believes that you're not just there to make a sale, but to solve their problems, they'll like and trust you.
And that's the true art of selling.