Sales Management Digest

Does Your Sales Process Have the Best Components?
Sabrina Ferraioli
Given the nature of B2B sales – the longer sales cycles, the complexity of sales, the presence of multiple decision makers, and the potential for high-dollar sales – having a productive, well-thought-out sales process is critical. It not only enables you to be successful but also to win deals cost-effectively.

With three key strategic components, you can build a sales process that matches buyers' needs and buying preferences throughout the sales cycle: You need to be efficient and cost-effective. Even more importantly, however, you need to deliver the right information through the right media to help with the decision making process and move prospects to the point where they want to take and engage in a sales call.

The Right Information at the Right Time and Place

With the possible exception of the occasional bluebird, B2B sales require weeks and even months of relationship building, information sharing, nurturing, and trust building. The sales process involves multiple touchpoints – each of which requires content.

Content is anything that provides information about the problem your company solves – as well as your products and services. It conveys your message. It's white papers, case studies, tips, videos, free downloads, webinars, blog posts, Website sales copy, emails, and more – and even the traditional printed sales brochure or direct mail piece.

But, while marketing departments used to create a set of standard, often generic collateral materials, today they work hard to match their content creation to the needs and expectations of people throughout the buyer's journey.

The ability to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time and in the right place can help convert casual visitors into qualified leads, leads into prospects, and prospects into customers. In short, targeted content helps move prospects through the sales cycle.

While marketing and content automation software (often integrated into your CRM system) can help deliver the right content quickly and efficiently, you still need to start with a thorough understanding of your market and target audience. So take the following steps:
  • Research your target market: How do they prefer to communicate? How much information do they require? How many decision makers are involved, on average?
  • Build a library of content: Target different stages of the buying process. Use a variety of media – e.g., video, blogs, e-books, competitive analysis, webinars, downloads, and podcasts.
  • Coordinate content delivery with a sales funnel: From awareness and discovery to consideration and, finally, decision, prospects require different types of information. Think through the process strategically. How complex is the message? What's the best medium? What does someone need to know to move forward?
Reach Decision Makers through Social Selling

While social media is a critical component of marketing today, it's also proving to be an essential part of the sales process. In fact, 90 percent of top sales reps report they are putting social selling tools to work.

Social selling is both an extension of the content delivery process as well as a way to reach out and initiate a conversation with prospects and begin building a relationship. Sales reps can use content as a conversation starter. They can post an article, link to a video, or tweet about an upcoming event, industry news, or even a time-sensitive offer. But that's just the beginning.

The key to social selling is connecting and communicating with people. It's a way of gaining access to your market and demonstrating your authenticity.

What's more, it's permission based. People decide to join your network, and they are free to opt out any time. They can invite further interaction by commenting on a post, asking a question, or clicking on a link to additional content.

Top B2B sales reps are using social selling to
  • Grow their networks: When salespeople actively post on their social sites, participate in discussions, and respond to comments, they increase market awareness and interest. When people see you are providing informative and engaging content, they opt into your network by following, liking, and sharing.
  • Listen to the market: It's not enough to tell people what you think, share new content, or send out breaking news. The best salespeople use social media to listen to the market.
  • Build credibility: You can use social media to build trust with prospective leads.
  • Initiate relationships: When you start to engage with people, you are opening the avenues to take communication to the next level. Always use a call to action that invites a person to take the next step.
The Human Touch Closes Deals

Reach out and call someone. Telesales is the third component in our sales process. But let's first clarify a common misunderstanding. The Internet, e-commerce, and social selling aren't making telesales obsolete. Far from it. They are actually making telesales even more important.

That's because, when used as part of a well-coordinated sales process, telesales moves past the traditional cold call and becomes the natural progression of a relationship that began with targeted content and active social selling.

By the time a professional telesales representative calls a prospect to set an appointment or invite the prospect to attend an event, a relationship exists. And, through real-time, two-way conversations, that relationship is nurtured even more. Nothing beats the human touch. Use the phone to
  • Reach out with an offer: Share new product or service information. Alert a prospect to a special pricing offer. Invite a prospect to attend an event, webinar, or tradeshow.
  • Conduct a needs assessment: When talking by phone, it's easy to turn a conversation into an opportunity to ask as well as answer questions. You can both further qualify prospects and determine how best to serve them.
  • Get a commitment: Professional telemarketers trained in your company and products know how to keep moving the sales process forward – whether by setting an appointment or providing additional informational content that caters to specific needs.
For a productive sales process, get the most out of your content marketing and social selling programs. Follow up on all the trust and goodwill you've built with professional B2B telesales and telemarketing strategies.

Sabrina Ferraioli is co-founder and VP Global Sales of 3D2B.
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