Creating a Strong 7 Step Sales Process for Your B2B Business

With this article, we want B2B businesses to learn the right approach to build a scalable B2B sales process. Implementing sales processes can streamline any task, whether simple or complex. The benefits of processes in business apply to your sales department as well. Setting up B2B sales processes can make sales reps more effective, consistent, and precise both in their roles and in their customer interactions.

Sales reps who apply a sales process, increase their chances of success by being more effective in three vital areas:

  • First, they have a better impact on clients and can find more potential customers and know how to influence them to drive them to a purchase decision.
  • Secondly, they have greater skills that reflect in a higher closing rate
  • Third, they developed time and task management techniques that allow them to invest more time on selling at the right time.

Without the support of a process a seller can have difficulty managing the various elements of the sale. Here are some useful questions to verify the effectiveness of your sales process.

  • Is equal attention given to each phase of the process or does over focusing on one phase in particular lead to the exclusion of others?
  • Is there sufficient and adequate market research to find and reach potential clients?
  • Is enough and correct follow-up activity carried out after sending a quote?
  • Are clients’ files updated regularly and continually during the negotiation progress and after each appointment with a client?

A sales process that complements your business, sales representatives, customers, and products or services will allow you to boost sales, close more deals and ensure that all of your reps are maintaining consistency in delivering positive customer experience. 

5 Reasons You Need a Sales Process

Believing in your skills and resourcefulness is, of course, a great way to work, but sales is not a game of intuition and creativeness. Sales is an organized series of tactical actions.

So, let’s talk about the reasons you need a standardized sales process.

1. Always Stay on Course

Sales process is often considered as a sales rep’s roadmap. Following a roadmap is not about guiding sales reps to “do this, then do that.” Rather, a sales process with clear steps and objectives should act as a GPS. Understanding what each step entails helps sales reps understand where they are in the process, when it is time to move on to the next step and when to change their path.

2. Find the Cause of Stalled Sales

Adopting a sales process helps selling professionals to determine the root cause of stalled sales. By following a set of steps, you will be able to evaluate whether your actions were effective or not, how many of them you needed, and what proved to be a failure or a waste of time.

If you follow a sales process, you can tell what you achieved and what you missed as well as how you achieved and how you missed.

3. Improve Forecasting and Revenue

Getting a clear picture of where the sales reps are in the sales process helps managers make sales predictions more accurate. Since a process is a series of repeatable steps, it offers a clearer vision of how many deals the team closes from a given number of leads. This way you can forecast win rates and set quotas accurately.

4. Offer better a customer experience

Often a sales rep drives a customer through the next steps of a deal too soon, for which they may not be ready yet.

Not only does this harm the relationship, but it can also derail a deal. A well-designed B2B sales process that is customer-centric can turn a haphazard and sometimes pushy approach into a smooth customer experience.

Based on the buying behaviors and expectations of your client, a sales process will drive the actions that sell value, raise trust and build a deeper relationship with a potential buyer – all at the right time.

5. Constant Improvement in Sales Methods

Successful sales managers develop their sales processes based on observable results and continual feedback. For example, knowing where most of your deals are getting stuck or slipping away will help you recognize the root cause of those stalled deals and take action to address the problem.

Having a formalized sales process ensures the team focuses its attention on the biggest revenue-generating activities. Without a process in place it’s hard to know which particular actions succeed or fail.

Building a scalable and effective sales process can be tough, especially because every business, sales team, and target audience is unique.

So What Makes an Effective B2B Sales Process?

An effective sales process is:

Customer-centric

Buyers are more motivated to buy, better educated, and have more possibilities than ever before. Successful companies are aligning their sales process based on changing customer buying behavior. 

Clearly defined

To be successful, all stakeholders need to understand each stage and aspect of your sales process well.

Replicable 

Every sales rep, without a doubt, should be able to duplicate all the steps in the selling process.

Predictable

In your sales process, the flow and expected results should follow a consistent pattern.

Goal-oriented

A sales process aims to enhance the ability to meet clear goals (Example – drive revenue growth, achieve process efficiencies, and more).

Easy to calculate 

All activities in your selling cycle should be quantifiable so that you can measure and enhance performance.

Adaptable 

A selling process must be sufficiently flexible to meet a changing market environment, technical integrations, or changes in your sales operations.

Although most sales teams are aware of a general sales procedure, not all of them agree to outline and standardize a sales process. Businesses often leave it up to individual sales members to determine what steps to take and when.

7-Step Sales Process for B2B Businesses

  1. Preparation & Research
  2. Prospecting
  3. Need Assessment 
  4. Pitch/Presentation
  5. Objection Handling
  6. Closing
  7. Follow-Ups, Repeat Business & Referrals

Creating a Strong 7 Step Sales Process

1. Preparation & Research

Preparation is the foundation upon which the sales process is built. Sales reps need to be familiar with their products/services, target audience, market, and the unique value their brand has.  Study your competitors. 

How can you add value to your product or service when your competitors are offering the same?

Take out some time and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Prepare buyer personas.  What are the primary challenges commonly faced by your buyers? And what are your solutions which can solve these problems? Brainstorm with your team to learn how your colleagues solve pain points, handle objections, close deals, and generate repeat business.

2. Prospecting

Finding customers is one thing. Engaging the best ones is a different matter. The sales prospecting process aims to qualify prospective customers who have demonstrated interest in your product or service, or who may be interested based on their profiles, business, or other characteristics.

Based on this benchmark, the sales and marketing departments will decide on an ideal customer profile, and screen prospective clients. This helps the team to allocate resources to qualified, high-value leads accordingly.

Decide how you want to standardize the sales prospecting. There are various ways for your company to prospect such as through marketing methods, email marketing, sales intelligence tools, B2B data, networking at live events or trade shows as well as on social media, purchased lists, cold calling and referrals.

3. Needs Assessment

Now you have your potential customer’s attention. Fantastic! However, you also need to do the research to decide if they actually need what you are offering. 

Sales reps need a set of standard questions prepared to ask prospects at this stage. A question set will keep reps asking for pertinent information and steer them away from dominating the conversation or assuming they know the answers. It also helps them look more professional before the potential buyers. 

Make sure that the interrogative questions are open-ended to facilitate a conversation. Reps need to be sure to listen more than they talk in the sales process at this stage. Though they may be tempted to be salesy, they should not begin discussing offerings at this stage of the sales process.

Additionally, it helps them anticipate objections by knowing what could keep the potential client from moving towards your solution. You can include the following questions in this phase:

  • What did you like or dislike about your previous provider?
  • What business problem are you hoping we’ll be able to solve?
  • Can you describe your current situation?
  • Can you tell me how this situation will look when you’ve addressed your current business problem?

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4. Pitch/Presentation

This is where you express the unique value that your customers will experience if they purchase your product or service.

You can drive a meaningful conversation by connecting their needs to the related features and advantages of your product. Sales reps must have a good understanding of what is being addressed during the needs assessment stage to create a successful sales pitch or presentation.

It is good to have additional information based on firmographic and technographic B2B data about the prospect’s company and industry during this stage. This additional information provides more background and helps you to create a customized sales pitch or demo of much higher quality.

5. Handling Objections

Once a sales rep presents a proposal/demo, the prospect often raises questions or concerns (ideally in your CRM).

Keep a record of these concerns, and what are the right approaches to answer them. Sharing this information with your sales team will ensure that your sales reps can respond to objections effectively and are ready with the most appropriate solutions to avoid any roadblocks to close the deal.

Concerns and rejections are common in sales. Any salesperson that lacks strength and the ability to roll with the punches (objections) from prospects will struggle in this stage of the sales process. You need a tough skin in sales and remember even a no is beneficial as it gives you feedback on what to focus on and improve.

To successfully handle complaints, practice empathy, and process the situation from the client’s point of view.

6. Closing

Usually, this stage of the 7-step selling cycle is where you finalize the deal, and all the efforts are reflected in the company’s revenue. While this may sound like the most crucial step, it is only effective if all the preceding steps are followed and accomplished successfully and in order.

This step commonly involves sending a proposal or a quote covering the tailored solution you are offering, prospects’ agreement to your terms and price or negotiation for mutually beneficial terms. When all objections are addressed and all details are finalized for delivery, fulfillment, or related actions, then you can move to the final stage of the sales process.

Sometimes, after putting all of the effort to nurture an account to this stage, your prospects may ghost on you. They might not respond to your emails or phone calls. The best way to deal with this can be to reach out via additional channels, for instance connecting with them on their work mobile numbers.

7. Follow-Ups, Repeat Business, & Referrals

If you have successfully closed a deal, it opens up more opportunities for repeat business. Paying clients who are cross or upsold can be your most profitable source of revenue.

Satisfied customers make excellent candidates for your other services. By maintaining healthy client relationships, you can more effectively upsell and generate repeat sales.

A perfect way to maintain these relationships is by timely keeping your brand in front of your clients through product announcements, business insights, an e-newsletter, or an interactive loyalty plan.

Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals either. You have earned the account at this point!

Final Thoughts

We’ve outlined our preferred 7-step sales process. However, many organizations need a shorter 3 to 5 stage sales process, while some need a much longer process. Is this the one that suits your business? Whatever the stages your business may require, the important part is actually having a well defined process that everyone understands and follows.

Want to handle the B2B selling like a pro?