As a B2B salesperson, you probably have a unique selling style and your own methodology that you’ve developed over time. You’re flexible, used to thinking on your feet, and you thrive on finding ways to make connections, solve your prospect’s pain points, and close that sale. Now that you are working from home, you are probably feeling the pressure to adapt your sales process to create more structure for you and your team.
If you’ve grown accustomed to doing things your own way, you’re not alone. According to Objective Management Group, which has evaluated and assessed close to a million salespeople, 75-80% of all sales reps don’t follow a formal sales process. But this can be a costly mistake. Harvard Business Review’s survey of B2B companies showed that teams with a clearly defined sales process had an 18% difference in revenue growth compared to those who did not.
We’re here to tell you that a formal B2B sales process is not to be feared or avoided! In fact, once you develop a standard process, you’ll have the groundwork set to optimize and improve your close rates. How, you might ask? Yes, we know it is difficult to keep your sales process consistent throughout transitions to remote work, a.k.a work from home. But we are here to help you navigate this rocky terrain and get you moving on a continuous path no matter your work environment. Let’s dive in!
What is unique about the remote B2B sales process?
Remote B2B SaaS sales is different than traditional sales approaches. Selling cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) often mirrors inside sales, where you typically prospect, nurture, and close sales remotely, without ever meeting your buyer in person.
New research confirms that customers want to engage virtually, and prefer not wasting time with in-person meetings in nearly 75% of sales situations. Additionally, online meeting tools are enabling more dynamic face-to-face conversations and demos via video. This allows you to make a more personal connection with your prospects and show them exactly how your product will help them.
To effectively educate customers and sell your company’s product or service, you need a well-thought-out, step-by-step process that your entire team can follow.
We designed this B2B sales development playbook to help you create an approach that is right for your target customer, and we’ll share the ways you can continue to optimize your sales pipeline and processes to grow revenue.
For more details about differing SaaS sales models and the best ways to use demos to optimize your team’s efficiency, check out “Why demos are important in B2B SaaS”.
Define your B2B sales process
If your SaaS model is transactional or enterprise, it is critical to define and implement a clear sales process that your entire team follows.
Companies with a formal sales process achieve more revenue, so allowing your sales reps to “wing it” can be a huge missed opportunity. Let’s break down the sales process to give you a framework for creating your own that fits your needs.
Here are 6 important B2B sales process steps to get you started:
Step 1: lead generation & prospecting
This is when you find potential customers and gauge whether they have a need for what you’re offering and if they can afford it. For B2B sales, leads can come from inbound marketing or from you doing research. Identify your target audience and utilize online resources like LinkedIn and other networking sites to build your prospects list.
Step 2: qualifying
You’ve reached your prospect and now your goal is to make sure they are a potential customer. Ask about their business goals and the challenges they need to overcome. If you don’t know where to start, try following BANT methodology to see if your lead is a good fit based on their budget, internal buying authority, needs, and purchase timeline.
Step 3: presenting
It’s demo time: the perfect opportunity for you to show your potential customer how your product will make life much easier for them, to spend time talking, and, most importantly, LISTENING to what they have to say.
Step 4: handling objections
When a prospect raises concerns, it means they are interested! How you handle objections can make or break the sale. Keep positive momentum by addressing their concerns either on the spot (this is why prepping for typical objections is key) or at an agreed time after your meeting or call. Always make sure you are being empathetic to their situation.
Step 5: closing
You did it! Here you agree on the terms of the sale and complete the transaction with your customer. Look to standardize this step of your process with contract templates (pre-approved by legal).
Step 6: onboarding & retention
When the sale closes, your job is not done. Keep in touch with your new customers as they go through onboarding. After they’ve found success with your solution, continue to nurture your relationship for repeat business and referrals. Retaining current customers is six to seven times less costly than acquiring new ones, so this step is completely worth your while.
Closing the loop
Whether you were successful or not in closing the sale, you need to close the loop – meaning you reflect on and measure your results to optimize future sales. Providing feedback (customer pain points, objections, stumbling blocks, etc.) to marketing is one way to set you and your company up for success. The team can develop an organic strategy driven by the needs of prospects, and that can result in more qualified leads for you.
Optimize your sales process using a sales funnel
Standardizing and following a sales process will help boost revenue. Your next goal should be optimization. One technique to evaluate and improve your process is to develop a simple sales funnel that shows the customer’s journey from marketing lead to qualified sales lead and eventually buying customer.
By visualizing your sales process within the funnel and assigning metrics to each step, you’ll be able to track where the barriers are and make necessary adjustments. Here is how you can build your B2B sales funnel in 5 phases.
This is the top of the funnel. You want to identify the right prospects and deliver the best value proposition to build interest. Lead generation involves prospecting, but also can be facilitated by inbound marketing, which involves getting prospects (marketing leads) to your website and eventually engaging them once you have their contact information. That means you and your marketing team need to be on the same page.
How to optimize lead generation: make sure sales & marketing are aligned
Instead of demanding better leads from your marketing team, work with them to define your customer profile: Who exactly are you selling to? Ensure that the message they’re sharing lines up with your pitch and addresses the main pain points. Integrate marketing technology (like Marketo, Hubspot) with your CRM so customer data flows seamlessly through sales and marketing.
You believe your product is a good fit for your prospect, but you won’t really know until you talk to them and find out their specific challenges and needs. You may want to start the conversation via email, but keep in mind that only 23.9% of sales emails are opened and the average person deletes 48% of the emails they receive daily.
At some point, you MUST get your prospect on the phone. Be prepared to use those dialing fingers (or invest in auto-dialing software) because it takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a prospect over the phone and call-back rates are lower than 1%.
How to optimize lead qualification: conduct a proper sales discovery and manage your time well
For those leads that are qualified, make sure you don’t skip Discovery. Sales teams that take enough time for Discovery before their demo win 73% more often than those who skip it. The goals of the Discovery call are to:
- Qualify for the demo
- Understand pain points
- Build rapport
- Identify the right audience
- Sell the demo
Time management is crucial in this stage. If you are in contact with a prospect via email but can’t convince them to do a 15-minute call, let them go. Your time would be much better spent acquiring referrals for your specific target customer.
Wondering how many sales calls you should be making a day? While a lot of numbers get thrown around, the basic consensus is 50 to 60 calls – and this includes callbacks from prospects. Michael Pedone of SalesBuzz.com reminds reps to focus on the quality of conversations as well. If you’re connecting, engaging, and learning through your calls, you’re definitely on the right track.
Product sales demo
This refers to scheduling and presenting your demo. The demo is also the best time to address any questions or objections that will help move you to a sale. While the demo is the main event to help your prospect see how you will solve their business pain points, don’t ignore other small interactions including agreeing on Next Steps and sending a Follow-Up email where you can seize the opportunity to move the sale along.
How to optimize the product demo: use the right online tools to streamline the process and make human connections
You need to build trust and deliver an engaging demo. A screen-sharing tool will allow you to schedule the demo, deliver a face-to-face demo experience and send your follow-up emails. By centralizing the entire sales process within one tool, you can track every interaction and find your soft spots.
This is the time your prospect decides to buy. If you’ve built a strong relationship throughout the process, qualified them properly, and delivered an effective demo, the final purchase should go smoothly.
How to optimize the purchase decision: set expectations early
There is no magic wand that will help you finalize the sale more quickly. If the sale hits a roadblock at this stage, it means you missed something earlier in the funnel. To ensure a seamless close, make sure you:
- Confirmed their budget during qualifying
- Presented the demo to the decision-makers
- Addressed all their outstanding objections after the demo
Once your prospect signs the contract, your job is just beginning. Most SaaS deals are based on yearly or even monthly contracts and switching costs are low. Long-term SaaS customers are a result of excellent onboarding and customer support. If you get those right, you can turn your customers into referral machines.
How to optimize customer success: turn your customers into ambassadors
You’ll have them singing your praises if you:
- Measure onboarding engagement to ensure it is useful and adds value.
- Offer great support and track satisfaction with an NPS survey.
- Maintain a strong relationship post-sale to nurture customer referral opportunities. Measure Each Stage of the Sales Process Funnel
Peter Drucker famously stated, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” Measuring your funnel starts with data, and data is generated by using online sales tools.
Today’s B2B sales reps usually employ at least five different sales tools throughout the sales process, including but not limited to:
- CRM (Example KPI: Retention & churn rates)
- Data and list services (Example KPI: Cost per Lead)
- Social prospecting (Example KPI: Cost per MQL)
- Sales cadence (Example KPI: Length of the sales cycle)
- B2B Sales meeting platform (Example KPI: Demo Conversion)
Based on the tools your team uses, decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you evaluate each step. There are several sales metrics to choose from, so find the ones that are best for you. Here’s a comprehensive list of sales KPIs.
Building the right team for your B2B sales process
The sales process you define should not only help you as you and your team work from home but also as you transition back into a normal work environment. With a clear Remote B2B sales methodology and a customer funnel to help you evaluate and optimize your sales process, you are well on your way to improving your close rates and increasing your revenue even if the circumstances have changed.