The Business to business sales funnel has, for as long as any of us can remember, been a linear process. Prospects are shuttled through a particular script that qualifies, nurtures, and converts a potential lead into a customer.
Those linear model days are passing us by, and may already be gone. However many businesses haven’t revisited the way they sell or market to a new generation of buyers.
The Old Way
The basic assumption underlying the older, linear model of business to business sales is that sales leads are relatively uneducated about the product they were buying. Presentations began with an introduction to the company, the products, and moved on from there. Sometimes the sale closed, and sometimes it didn’t.
That assumption used to work. That was “how business works.”
But times have changed. Leads have changed, and your sales funnel needs to change with it. There are digital innovations that can save you time and scale your sales funnel in ways that were previously fictional.
To help you understand, let’s meet the next generation of decision makers. Then we’ll talk about ways you can make changes.
A New Generation of Leads
You may have noticed this lately, but many of the prospects you’re talking to now have a different approach than pre-internet days. Today’s decision-makers are better educated about your product when the first contact happens, which means your sales introduction just went out the window. These empowered leads already read your playbook, and they don’t need it pounded in or reinforced.
Many of your potential clients have resources that allow them to communicate effortlessly with their peers about issues that used to be monopolized by your communication. Clients are now approaching your business with a model similar to B2C sales funnels, which means adaptation is in order. The last thing you want to do is bore your potential clients out of a sale!
If you’re unfamiliar with what B2C sales funnels looks like, we recommend you start here first. You’ll have a clearer picture of the changes that are happening around your business.
3 Ways to Adapt Your B2B Sales Process
1. Establish Thought Leadership
The way people learn about your business may have changed, but that doesn’t leave you powerless. I’ve talked a bit about Thought Leadership via content marketing before, and I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to establish your sales reps as experts in their field.
You can still create scenarios where leads learn everything about your services from you. You’re doing it digitally though – with blog posts and emails instead of handshakes and presentations. By integrating digital touchpoints via thought leadership into the offline sales process, you’re creating a full field of buyers.
The best part about this? It’s scalable. Where before you could have 5 or 6 sales pitches in a day, you could have hundreds of readers on a blog post at any given moment. Your sales funnel gets prioritized and shorter, which means more sales.
Instead of a presentation, you need to start with a conversation. See what your prospect already knows and fill in the missing information gaps.
If your prospect wants to buy, you’ve saved yourself time by skipping to the good part. If they need more information and different options, you’ll have the opportunity to gain their trust and close the sale in the future.
Whatever the scenario, “quarterbacking” will always be a win.
3. Don’t Neglect Window Shoppers
People have gotten used to being marketed to in a certain way in their personal lives, and that’s going to affect how they respond to marketing in their professional lives. Sales reps need to double as marketers and be less invasive than ever before, which is a significant shift.
You still need to push the sale, but understand that it’s going to take a little more time for some of your clients in a different way than you’re accustomed to. Your prospects may be “window shopping” in the consideration phase for some time.
This change can especially impact some of your legacy sales staff who are still clinging to the linear model of sales. Reemphasize how the new sales model works in your team’s favor through training, and show them this will only help them meet their quota.
There’s no denying the shift in the B2B sales journey, even if it offends our traditional views of business. While there’s still wisdom in the old way of doing things, it pays to adapt and evolve with the times.
If you’re looking for a way to revamp your digital presence and cash in on higher quality leads that are easier to sell to, you need to read our marketing checklist below. It’s the first step of many that point to more sales – and faster growth – for your business.