As someone responsible for making sales you’ll be very aware of the importance of an effective sales process. You can’t mandate that your prospect will be easily led through your sales process. However, being able to assess where the buyer is, and what an appropriate next step is will help both you and the buyer.
The Sales Funnel is a graphical representation that helps us manage time and resources allocated to different stages of the sales process.
B2B Sales Process challenges:
There can be many challenges in the B2B sales process:
- Not enough people, leads or opportunities at each stage in the sales funnel
- Not enough leads converting from one stage to the next
- Sales opportunities taking longer than expected to move forward to the next stage.
- Each step and conversion taking more effort and cost than you planned for
- A marketing and sales process that is reactive, chaotic, unpredictable and unreliable.
B2B Sales funnel approach
Although there is some discussion about how the Sales Funnel is changing in light of recent changes such as the Internet, search, increasing self-service, social media and so on, it would be foolish to throw out the concept of sales funnel entirely. B2B sales can still be pro-active, add value, guide buyers through the process and more.
B2B Lead Generation
At the start of the process, or the top of the sales funnel, there is lead generation activity. This can be offline, such as networking events or exhibition, or direct mail. It might be online with activities such as Content Marketing, search marketing, online advertising or a mix of many other activities. The lead generation process is about being in front of the right people with the right message or offer at the right time.
B2B Lead Nurture
Unless your sales are small and impulse purchases there’s likely to be several contacts over a period of time before the buyer is able and ready to make a purchase decision. Keeping in contact with the prospect, and providing relevant and timely messages, is a way to develop the relationship, and also to qualify and to identify what next message would be most applicable.
Considered purchases in B2B are often made having received formal quotes or proposals. Gaining a clear understanding of the specific needs and requirements, influencing those in your favour, emphasising the strengths and points of differentiation of your solution, and getting a price that wins the business at a profit to you are all part of the selling process. With increased competition it takes a smart operator and effective support to consistently hit sales and profit targets.
Mapping out the Marketing and Sales process
A great way to improve results is to map out the marketing and sales process. It helps to identify how well this maps onto the buying process and check that each step adds value to the buyer. Then we can see how to reduce the cost of delivering each step, while also maintaining or improving your conversion ratio.
Once the process is mapped then resources and content can be aligned to it, and measures tracked to manage progress.
This provides a basis for avoiding – DOA – Dead on Arrival – or bids that you realise with hindsight you had very little chance of winning.
And to use the acronym, we can look at the tasks that make up the marketing and sales process to see what steps you can Delegate, Outsource or Automate.
Tips to help you map out your processes
We have prepared a set of tips and a checklist to help you to:
- map out your marketing and sales process
- delegate, outsource or automate activities
A clear process map and strategy is one of the SIX pillars to B2B sales improvement.
What will you do to improve your sales funnel and customer journey now?
If you’d like to talk through your Sales Process, and how LinkedIn can be beneficial at various stages, schedule an exploratory call with me, Mark Stonham,m by clicking the image below.