May 11, 2013

For salespeople coming from the B2C (business-to-consumer) world, B2B (business-to-business) sales requires adjusting and adopting a slightly different skill set. The high dollar values involved usually make the extra work worth it, but also makes B2B sales even more competitive than B2C sales.

Here are some top sales tips for new B2B salespeople.

1. Dress the Part

Your attire is more critical in B2B sales than in selling to consumers. Matching the “uniform” of the people you are selling to is the easiest way to avoid standing out in the wrong way. In other words, if you are selling to bankers, wear a suit. If you are selling to agricultural businesses, jeans or khakis might be perfectly acceptable, whereas the suit might make your prospects uncomfortable.

As recommended on CBS’s Moneywatch, dress “one step up,” meaning to look just slightly better than the client. As an example, if you know the client wears business casual, wear a jacket with your polo shirt. And make sure everything is neatly pressed and polished.

2. Learn to Listen

B2B sales can be highly complex, taking many months to close. In order to keep the deal going, and prevent a competitor from “stealing” your buyer mid-process, you need to uncover the nuances of the prospect’s business. The best way to do this is by becoming a good listener from the moment of initial contact all the way through the consummation of the sale.

How do you listen effectively in B2B sales?

  • Ask questions regarding the prospect’s business.
  • Listen to the responses without interrupting them. Let them talk.
  • Acknowledge them when they are done.
  • If needed, guide them towards problem areas with even more questions until you uncover something your product or service can solve (a pain point).
  • Offer your solution.

Of course, this is highly simplified, but that is really the gist of it.

3. Do Your Research

There is a vast amount of research that can be done to qualify prospects, and develop a strategy on how best to approach them, well before investing time in a sit-down sales meeting. Fortunately, most of this information is freely available on the web through social media sites, published annual reports and filings, business review sites, and company web pages.

It can be time-consuming to gather all of this research manually, so consider a sales intelligence platform to speed up the process.

4. Develop a Coach

B2B salespeople need to develop “coaches.” These are people who are in the same business or social circles as the prospect, or who even work in the same company, who can help “grease the wheels” by providing an introduction. They can help get you an appointment with the decision makers, and often provide some information to help you close the deal which is obtainable nowhere else.

Dealing with business people in a professional setting is different than dealing with everyday consumers. If you are moving from B2C sales to B2B sales, use the above top sales tips to gain an edge in your new environment.