Getting the best from your sales reps means giving them the best, too: the best systems, the best tools, and the best sales proposal software.
How Can You Tell If Your Sales Strategy Is Working?
You need to optimize your sales and lead generation processes: the current performance and with hypothetical changes, and everything starts with measurement.
You’ll commonly hear people say, “I’ll do anything but sales” or “I hate selling.” But why do people say this so often? Is it because you can’t make good money in sales? Certainly not! In most cases, it’s because they don’t understand what it takes to be successful when it comes to sales in manufacturing industries.
No matter how good your B2B sales strategy has been historically, or how carefully you outlined the strategy in the first place, there’s usually a point at which your company hits a plateau. You’ll find a limit to your sales, or you’ll start to lose momentum that you gained. Either way, you won’t be getting as many sales as you wanted—maybe not even as many as you need—and you’ll be hard-pressed to start looking for alternative strategies and approaches to achieve the goals you’ve set for your organization.
The process starts with identifying what’s currently wrong with your approach.
The Unique Challenges of B2B
B2B sales is arguably more challenging than B2C sales—it has a handful of unique obstacles that you’ll have to address in your strategy and analysis:
A longer sales cycle. It usually takes a longer time for B2B clients to close a deal. The impulse-driven sense of urgency that many B2C companies rely on can’t be replicated here. Instead, prospective leads need to be initiated, nurtured, and followed up with on a regular basis before they can be gradually worked to a close.
More complicated relationships.
A consumer buying a product is a relatively straightforward decision—that consumer simply has to decide if it’s worth the amount of money that product is being sold for. In a business exchange, legal departments, bosses, superiors, and financial departments may all throw wrinkles into the sales process.
More unforeseeable variables.
There are a number of T’s to cross and I’s to dot in the B2B world. There’s much more on the line, and far more variables that can influence the close of a deal. Accordingly, it’s harder to predict what went wrong during the process—it’s harder to isolate those variables and account for them with some new change.
Few B2B sales departments operate in a vacuum. Instead, they rely on other departments, especially marketing, to complement and enhance their efforts. For example, B2B marketing departments usually do the work of raising brand awareness and setting early expectations, passing over strong leads to the sales team for further exploration. If they miscommunicate, or send bad leads, the sales process can be disrupted before it even begins.
What Could Be Going Wrong
With those considerations in mind, these are the most common reasons why your B2B sales strategy could be failing entirely:
You aren’t offering the right product at the right price.
No matter how you try to dress up the rest of the sales process, this is the fundamental exchange that lies at the heart of any sales deal. You have to give your customers something they need or want at a price they evaluate to be equal to or less than the value of the offer. If you’re offering something that people just don’t want, or if you end up charging people more than they’re willing to pay, your sales team will be hard-pressed to close deals. The biggest problem here is that most people won’t give you direct feedback on how close you are to the mark.
You aren’t working with quality leads.
Because the B2B sales cycle is longer and more complicated, it doesn’t make sense for your sales team to handle leads that haven’t been pre-qualified in some way. The most common way to handle this is through a marketing funnel, which may pre-qualify leads who have converted online or met a certain threshold of interest. If this funnel is flawed—too wide or too narrow—your sales team won’t be able to work efficiently. Your sales team should be able to give you feedback here based on their experiences.
Your business agreements aren’t reasonable.
Occasionally, there are logistical hurdles that prevent business agencies from working with each other. For example, your contractual agreement may be too inflexible, or your terms of service may be too long. If you’re worried this might be the case, experiment with a new model of agreement and see if you end up closing more deals.
You haven’t built a replicable sales process.
This is a major kink in the system because it prevents you from being able to isolate and identify any potential variables that could be interfering with your ability to close. A consistent, repeatable sales process will make it easier for your sales team to write proposals, do so in the appropriate brand voice, offer things on (relatively) even footing with each other, and evaluate what went right or wrong in multiple independent scenarios.
You aren’t building or nurturing a lead pool.
Just because a lead didn’t close right away or didn’t convert right away doesn’t mean that lead is dead to you forever. You also don’t have to dispose of all the “soft leads” who aren’t ready to convert or aren’t as interested as your upper echelon of leads. You can pool them all together, market to them gradually, and start culling them based on interest in the future. Nurture your leads gradually through marketing and occasional touches, and eventually you can bring them to a close.
The Final Threshold of B2B Sales
The early stages of B2B sales are important, including identifying the right prospects, funneling leads to your sales team, and beginning the early conversations. But the final threshold for sales performance, the writing and delivery of a final proposal, is essential to closing the deal. You need to make sure your proposals are being written and presented consistently, with as much accuracy as possible, if you want your business to succeed in the long term.
If you need help to accomplish this, CPQ software is likely your best bet. At iQuoteXpress, our CPQ software gives your team all the tools and resources they need to get the job done efficiently and effectively. If you’re interested in seeing how our CPQ software can work for you, sign up for a free trial today!
Closing sales means bringing in business and, hopefully, lasting customers. However, moving from initial contact to money in the bank isn’t nearly as easy as it looks. Aside from having the drive to close a deal, a good salesman must also have the right tools.
With so many tasks and responsibilities circling you from day to day, it’s easy to feel too overwhelmed to do a good job. To make your sales jobs more manageable, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of sales tools at your disposal.
You’ll need tools that help you become more organized, stay on task, communicate better with clients, and leave work at work when you head home. If that sounds attractive to you, here are some essential sales tools that you should be using.
1. Personality Traits and Skills
First and foremost, being a good salesman goes beyond the technical. You must also have certain personality traits and skills to handle this difficult occupation. As you work to close quicker deals and to increase your success in this field, here are some personality traits on which to work.
Patience: Let customers make decisions at their own speed. Some sales will take longer than others.
Commitment: It may take 99 phone calls dropped or doors slammed in your face to get your first sale, but if you’re committed to the job, you’ll get it done.
Integrity: Shady sales people always have a more difficult time connecting with consumers and maintaining lasting customers than those who approach the process with honesty and transparency.
Flexibility: You have to be available for customers, even when it’s not convenient. You may also need to adjust your initial goals to work with difficult customers and extenuating circumstances.
Enthusiasm: The more excited and confident you are in a product, the more you’ll be able to convince consumers of its worth.
Motivation: Most of the time, you’ll set your own goals, hours, and quotas, so it’s essential to stay motivated if you want to achieve success.
2. Mobile Apps
It’s hard to be a good salesman today without a smartphone loaded with useful apps. Some apps will help you to communicate better with your customers, while others will improve lead storage. You likely already have a few apps in your mobile library, but here are a few that you can add.
CamCard: Save a sales lead instantly with this accurate note-taking and storage app.
Square: Retain the ability to accept payment at the door.
GoToMeeting: Tune-in to conferences with your sales team, even when you’re traveling.
Dragon: Take notes on your phone by using tech that translates voice into text.
SpotHero: Stop looking for affordable, nearby parking when you travel to meetings. This app instantly shows all of the parking places in the vicinity around your meeting.
Pocket: When you find a timely and educational article or video on the web, bookmark it for later.
3. Cloud Collaboration
Everything is moving to the cloud these days, and you should too. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to store your sales files accurately and securely. You no longer need worry about accidentally deleting files or losing everything when your desktop crashes. If it’s in the cloud, you can almost always retrieve it.
In addition, the cloud makes it easy to collaborate, both with team members and your clients. When using cloud-based productivity platforms and file sharing, you can communicate relevant information with anyone, no matter where you are. As a salesperson, you’re likely required to travel often, and tools like Google Drive, iQuoteXpress, and other productivity sales platforms will keep you constantly connected.
4. Email Tracking
Understanding the effectiveness of your emails will show you where to improve and which habits to continue. Features in a good email tracking software will include email templates, monitoring of outgoing emails for the entire team, integration with other software, the ability to see when messages are opened, consistent online support, email analytics, comprehensive email reports, and other key email marketing tools.
With the ability to track emails across your entire sales team constantly, communication becomes increasingly more attainable for both teams and clients. Your sales will improve, and your quotas will be easier to reach.
5. Quota Tracking
Every sales person has a quota they must reach on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. The best sales people stick to their quotas religiously and hold themselves to a higher standard each time they achieve their goals.
Reaching these quotas is difficult, but it gets easier when you use software to improve the process. Cloud-based productivity software, for example, can help entire sales teams collaborate in order to work toward both individual and team goals. When team members see their own progress and the progress of others, it can motivate them to achieve even higher goals and to improve their sales in the process.
6. Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) Software
Many salespeople will tell you that managing proposals is one of the most difficult aspects of staying organized and productive as a salesman, particularly those with complex sales processes. Businesses with a variety of products and services to offer have a much more difficult time giving an accurate quote than small businesses, a process that can drag down the proposal process and reduce the professional quality.
When you have CPQ software, you’ll begin to change your tune. This tool allows you to manage proposal by proposal accurately and quickly, rather than getting caught up in mounds of files to approach.
Essentially, CPQ software is a tool that enables more efficient sales processes through increasing deal size, scalable accuracy, and cloud convenience. iQuoteXpress, for example, is a resource specifically designed for teams looking for more professional, accurate, and timely proposals. It can be customized to your unique objectives and offers a variety of features.
When you’re faced with complex sales quotes, this software can integrate your catalog to minimize and eliminate errors; deliver accurate quotes; and create striking, branded, and complete proposals.
Aside from that, once the proposal is created, you can track your leads, monitor and manage activities, and ultimately close more deals. This incredible sales tool seems too good to be true, but it’s not. In fact, you can contact iQuoteXpress now for more information. We’d be happy to hook you up with a free, no-obligation online demo of our CPQ software today!
In business, time is literally money. The longer it takes your company to close a sale, the more money you lose. On the flipside, the less time it takes, the more you make. That’s why it’s essential to target efficiencies that’ll make your sales cycle as short as possible. However, you’re not the only business to have this thought. This is an extremely common problem among businesses, and it’s not an easy one to solve.
As you approach this issue, recognize first that it’s not the customers who let the sales cycles drag on, but the salespeople. It won’t take long for a customer to decide to buy a product or not if the sales team does their job correctly.
In addition, once the customer decides that they want to purchase a product, it’s the salesperson’s responsibility to see the process through the end. The longer it takes to hold up your end of the deal, the more money the company will lose.
When it comes time to root out the problem with your sales cycle and to take definitive action to fix it, there are some considerations to make. Here are some tried and true ways that you can shorten your sales cycle and see better returns.
1. Present a Clear Proposition
The first rule of salesmanship is that you must make the customer see the value of the proposition that you’re making. “A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. It’s the primary reason a prospect should buy from you,” says Peep Laja of Conversion XL, an optimization company.
Laja points out that your value proposition must be the very first thing that a customer sees. Otherwise, he or she won’t be interested in learning more about the product or service. In addition, it must be something with which actual people can relate.
“Value proposition is something real humans are supposed to understand,” Laja continues. “Your value proposition needs to be in the language of the customer. It should join the conversation that is already going on in the customer’s mind.” Speaking to the customer in terms that they can appreciate and value is the surest way to close a deal quickly.
2. Utilize CPQ Software
Presenting the price is ultimately one of the most valuable aspects of your sales process, but it can often be time consuming. In addition, when consumers are given a price that they feel is unreasonable without clear logic behind it, it can encourage them to shut the door on the sale.
Using Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) software is one of the best ways to present a price that customers can get behind as well as to speed up the sales process. CPQ software can not only give you a quick quote for products or services rendered, but it can also show the logic behind the price, revealing the accuracy of the quoted price.
As a general rule of sales, lower priced items will sell quicker, but when a high-priced item is presented in a credible fashion that accompanies a clear value proposition, consumers will look past the price and consider the ultimate value of the sale.
3. Get the Right People Involved
Some people have made up their minds to avoid salespeople. Others aren’t in a position to purchase your product, no matter how convincing you are. When you come across these consumers, don’t waste your time and efforts. If you do manage to sell something, it’ll likely take more time and effort than the sale is worth.
“When your customers are ready to buy, they will tell you,” says an article from ChangingMinds.org. “Sometimes they will immediately place the order, but mostly, they will tell you by subtle signals in their verbal and body language, along with specific things they say and do.” When you’re closely observing the actions and language of your customer, you’ll see who’s interested in purchasing and who’s already made up his or her mind to say no.
4. Speed up the Proposal Process
Writing good proposals is often the key to closing a quick sale in business-to-business settings. Speed is always an important aspect of writing your proposal, but the stakes are raised when you receive a request for proposal (RFP). At that point, it becomes essential to deliver a speedy response to improve your chances of getting the sale.
“There’s more of an advantage to a speedy response time with your RFP than many people realize,” says a blog post from iQuoteXpress. “It’s like getting a 10-second head start in a race. It may not be much, but it could mean the difference between your proposal being accepted and it being thrown out. Having your proposal take the first place in the queue ensures that the requester will read yours with a fresh set of eyes without comparing its weaknesses to other proposals. It’s the advantage that you may need in order to be chosen.”
When you don’t use the right tools, the entire process of writing your proposal, being chosen above other proposals, negotiating terms, and closing a sale can take a month or more. That time frame is simply unacceptable, particularly when you can use CPQ software and other tools to speed up the proposal process. This gives you accurate quotes at the blink of an eye, ensures that your proposal drafts are never lost, and stores everything securely on the cloud.
5. Address Objections at the Beginning
Too many sales people believe that the objections should be left out of the sales pitch, and that only the benefits should be discussed. But this could be the reason why their sales haven’t been very successful. Addressing objections can significantly shorten the sales cycle, particularly if they’re mentioned early on.
The effectiveness of including objections can be illustrated in terms of writing techniques. When someone focuses only on the positive aspects of a topic, that’s known as the straw man fallacy. Essentially, this means that your argument is too fluffy and weak to stand up against the opposition. When someone presents an objection to the argument – and they always will – yours won’t be able to hold its ground.
Bringing objections into the sale early on is like building up an “iron-clad” argument. You can approach the objections head on, and then explain with the positive highlights of the sale why that objection is irrelevant or unfounded. Iron beats straw any day, after all, and the fight will be over much quicker if the objections are covered from the very beginning.
Speed Up the Sales Cycle with a Free CPQ Software Demo from iQuoteXpress
When you’re ready to cut time without cutting corners in the sales process, CPQ software is an essential investment. At iQuoteXpress, we offer a free, no-obligation demo of our online CPQ software. Try it for free today!