Always have a next steps step in B2B selling. The best B2B sales process or selling strategy is one that is deliberate with an activity to keep the sale going. Besides ensuring continuity of the sale, it shows the seller’s stamina for the long haul post sale.
B2B sales process description
First off, a working definition of a standard B2B sales process, is one business selling to another. One business can have both B2B and B2C components. For example, a bank. The corporate relationship manager sells the products of the bank (bank guarantees, working capital etc.) to another business, say, a manufacturing entity. A sales rep within the same bank, on the other had, sells personal bank accounts, personal loans, credit cards etc., to individuals. The former example is B2B and the latter, business-to-customer (B2C). B2B selling is sometimes referred to as a B2B enterprise sales process. One more example: when a manufacturing entity sells its products (say, soap) to a distributor or wholesaler, that’s B2B selling; but when a supermarket or kiosk sells you a cake or a box of the same soap, that’s B2C.
How does B2B sales process work?
Now, given the foregoing, it is evident that a B2C sales cycle is short and decision making process comparatively faster than in B2B sales. This is because the buyer is one person unlike in a B2B sale where it’s more than one and the risk is to the business more than to the individual. For this reason, the B2B sales length is long. It takes time, for instance, before you fully comprehend the buyer’s business which you must if you are to sell B2B successfully.
Further, modern B2B sales process is made more complex because the buyer is a 21st C customer with access to information you have. Anyway, as I was saying, from initial contact, it can easily stretch up to 6 months, even 18 or more before a close happens. And even after the close, the relationship keeps going. Think of a business that installs enterprise-wide software to automate its activities. The system will need continual support from the seller, yes? This is why B2B sales’ are marriages not flings. And it is why you must be intentional with a next steps stage in B2B sales.
Importance of next steps stage in B2B selling
Because of the inevitable numerous engagements in B2B sales, the successful seller always embeds a next steps stage at the end of every engagement. The form it takes depends on what you are selling, and the stage the sale is at, of course. For example, if you are selling an online payment platform, and you are at the point of training the buyer’s staff on how to use it, next steps could be setting a day for training. Depending on what you are selling a next steps stage could be sending a proposal, meeting the users, introducing your colleagues involved in the sale (or meeting his involved in the purchase), customizing the training or visiting the (buyer’s) factory. Anything really, that preferably creates an opportunity for you to follow-up and check in without being irritating; something to mutually look forward to and that deepens and progresses the relationship being created.
Next steps in B2B selling process goals and control
Without being intentional with next steps or goals, you run the risk of losing momentum of the sale. You also run the risk of being seen to lack stamina post-sale service. ‘If this is how they are treating us now with indifference, how will it be when we sign on?’ the buyers ask themselves. Chances are that whatever gains you will have made by then, the sale starts unravelling and soon you lose it. Truth is, you never had it. Being deliberate with the next steps stage keeps you in control of the B2B sales process.
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