Imagine you're on a road trip to a new city without any directions. No map, no GPS, no highway signs. You'd quickly get lost trying to navigate the twisting streets aimlessly.
That's how most sales teams operate without a defined process - no clear sense of direction or next steps.
A sales process for B2B businesses is like having a navigation system for your deals. It provides turn-by-turn guidance on which actions lead to the desired destination of closed sales.
This roadmap lays out a sequence of stages that prospects move through on their buyer's journey. With this framework, it's easier to anticipate what's required to move opportunities further.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about crafting a sales process for B2B success. This will help you confidently navigate deals through to revenue. Let’s get started.
What is a B2B sales process?
A B2B sales process is a series of predefined steps that guide prospects through successive stages of their buyer's journey—from the first touch point to becoming customers. It covers the full lifecycle, enabling sales teams to nurture relationships over time.
Unlike transactional consumer sales, B2B requires a long-term, collaborative approach. Sales reps act as trusted advisors guiding informed decisions, and not just push products.
Effective B2B processes focus on systematic relationship building across months or years. With multiple decision-makers and formal procurement procedures, consensus takes time and personalized care.
Although deals remain the end goal, the path involves more two-way listening and discovery than one-way pitched promotions. Standardized workflows keep teams patiently nurturing, not hard selling, as relationships develop.
Importance of B2B sales process
Implementing a structured sales process offers numerous benefits that drive business growth:
- Increased win rates: Systematic nurturing over extended periods builds trust and improves conversion rates.
- Improved forecasting accuracy: Metrics at each process stage provide pipeline visibility to predict revenue more accurately.
- Greater productivity: Standard workflows eliminate duplicated effort so reps can focus on the most valuable activities.
- Enhanced customer experience: An organized process ensures consistent and personalized buyer journeys.
- Better training and onboarding: Documented workflows help new hires rapidly understand strategies and ramp up.
- Continuous optimization: Rich data insights allow teams to continually tweak and perfect their approach to boost performance.
- Increased lifetime value: Increased customer satisfaction enables improved retention, referrals, and expansion revenue.
- Continuous optimization: Rich data insights allow teams to continually tweak and perfect their approach to boost performance.
For B2B companies, a sales process is foundational for executing deals efficiently at scale. The framework supports growth through alignment and consistency.
Steps in the B2B sales process
While B2B selling processes vary, they generally follow similar stages - reflecting the typical B2B buyer's journey. Here are the key B2B sales cycle stages:
Step 1: Research and targeting (prospecting)
Prospecting in B2B sales is about identifying the organizations that stand to derive the most value from your offerings. In the initial step, you thoroughly research your total addressable market to build targeted prospecting lists.
Here's the game plan:
- Define your ideal client: Consider companies of a specific size or those within a certain revenue bracket. precision is key!
- Identify pain points: It's essential to pinpoint businesses grappling with challenges that your solutions are tailor-made to address.
- Check for tech compatibility: Ensure their existing tech tools and platforms complement what you offer.
- Measure interest levels: If they're regularly engaging with your website or content, it's a green light indicating their interest.
- Lean on referrals: Recommendations from current clients or partners often lead you directly to potential clients ready to engage.
Proper prospecting isn't a numbers game—it's about meticulous strategy and focus. Equip yourself with the best tools to streamline this process. Options like ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be invaluable. Remember, quality interactions always trump quantity. Aim to connect, not just contact!
Step 2: Initial contact and relationship building (approach)
Making the initial approach in B2B sales is about beginning a relationship based on value, not making a hard sales pitch right away.
Warm personalized outreach should aim to convey relevance to prospects based on their business needs. This lays the groundwork for nurturing lead relationships over extended periods.
- Craft personalized outreach: Use tailored emails or LinkedIn messages that offer valuable insights to catch their attention.
- Initiate a dialogue: A friendly phone call can open doors, enabling you to gauge their needs better.
- Showcase your expertise: Share resources like industry reports or case studies. It not only positions you as an expert but also provides them with actionable insights.
- Network, network, network: Virtual events and trade shows can be gold mines for establishing those vital initial connections.
- Stay on their radar: Following up is key. Whether it's through a call, email, or other channels, ensure the conversation keeps flowing.
- Adopt effective B2B sales strategies: Methods like challenger sales can give you an edge by offering an insight-driven approach.
Step 3: Diagnose needs and map solutions (qualification)
The qualification step is vital for ensuring a fit between your solutions and the prospect's needs. For B2B, this may involve a discovery call to uncover the prospect's challenges and requirements. Skilled questioning techniques like SPIN selling can reveal true needs rather than just wanted solutions.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Deep dive discussions: A detailed conversation can unearth the challenges and specific needs of a prospect.
- Master the art of questioning: Use techniques like SPIN selling to peel back the layers. The goal? Identify the genuine need beneath the expressed want.
- Listen, then guide: By paying close attention and understanding core issues, reps can propose solutions that hit the bullseye.
- Measure the impact: Helping prospects grasp the repercussions of not addressing their challenges can add weight to the solution you’re offering.
- Unpack their needs with pointed questions: "Why" and "How" can be your best allies to delve deep.
- Connect the dots: See how your offerings can solve their problems. Are there any gaps? Time to find out.
- Understand their ecosystem: Who's who in their organization? Segment them by roles and influence.
- Get the inside scoop: Find out how they make decisions and the internal steps they follow.
- Talk numbers and timelines: Gauge their budget and when they aim to roll things out.
Step 4: Presenting the value proposition
The presentation step is crucial for conveying the concrete value of your solution to B2B prospects. The goal is tailoring your messaging and positioning to resonate with the needs identified during qualification.
The presentation stage is your opportunity to connect the dots for prospects on how your solution delivers value. Outcomes and ROI should remain centered rather than product features.
Here's how to get it right:
- Demo it right: Offer customized demos or trials. Let them see how seamlessly your solution integrates with what they already use.
- Show them the numbers: Use personalized ROI calculators. When they can see the exact cost savings or revenue boost, it's a win!
- Create that perfect pitch: Design presentations that speak directly to each stakeholder. Remember, one size doesn’t always fit all.
- Stories sell: Case studies and testimonials from clients in similar industries can be the perfect seal of approval.
- Get technical, but keep it simple: Ensure the tech-savvy evaluators get a clear grasp of what your solution can do.
- Address the what-ifs: Offer assurances on security, support, and compliance. It’s about clearing any clouds of doubt.
- Make promises you can keep: Guaranteeing results with SLA-backed commitments can be a deal-sealer.
Step 5: Handling objections and concerns
With long B2B sales cycles involving multiple stakeholders, objections are inevitable and should be welcomed. Handling concerns properly ensures you can clarify any misconceptions and re-emphasize value.
Here's how to navigate these challenges:
- Lend an ear: Listen, and listen well. Before jumping in with solutions, understand where they're coming from.
- Dig deeper: Ask questions that help unravel the core of their concerns.
- Be empathetic: Acknowledge their point of view. Remember, it's a partnership, not an argument.
- Show, don’t just tell: Arm yourself with case studies, reports, and testimonials that vouch for your claims.
- Talk numbers: When the price is the sticking point, lay out the ROI and TCO(Total Value of Ownerships) clearly. Sometimes seeing the long-term picture changes everything.
- Offer a test drive: Consider free trials or gradual implementation plans. Let them experience the solution first-hand.
- Focus on results: Shift the conversation from just the features to the bigger picture - the impact on their business.
- Flexibility wins: Show your willingness to tailor the solution to their unique needs.
- Bring in the experts: Sometimes, having a technical guru speak to their evaluators can clear up any complex doubts.
Step 6: Negotiation and agreement
With multiple decision-makers involved in B2B deals, the negotiation stage requires alignment across stakeholders to reach mutual agreements. It's all about balance. Both parties need to feel they're getting a good shake.
Here’s how to navigate these waters:
- Be proactive: Gauge the prospect's budget early on. No one likes last-minute surprises.
- Value first, discounts later: Discuss the pricing based on the value provided. Then, if needed, explore incentives or discounts.
- Stay flexible: Sometimes, custom quotes or specific concessions can seal the deal.
- Get everyone onboard: Bring in the legal and procurement folks early. It streamlines the contract game.
- Keep it clear: Be upfront about terms, roles, and everything covered in the SLAs(Service Level Agreements).
- Mind the pennies: Be open to discussing their preferred payment and invoicing structures.
- Aim for the win-win: Remember, the best deals make both parties feel like winners.
- Justify with numbers: Back up premium prices or features by showcasing their ROI and TCO benefits.
- Document, document, document: Ensure all agreements are clearly noted. It saves future headaches.
- All hands on deck: Wait until every decision-maker gives the green light before marching ahead.
Step 7: Closing the sale
With lengthy sales cycles, closing the deal can be a major milestone in B2B. Sales reps should confirm stakeholder consensus and be ready to act as strategic advisors guiding the prospect over the finish line.
Some closing best practices include:
- Collect the final nods: Make sure the tech gurus and big-wigs are all on board and ready to roll.
- Tie up loose ends: Address any last-minute queries with clear demos or maybe even an extra perk.
- Check the temperature: Throughout your interactions, drop in trial closes to ensure you're both still on the same page.
- Highlight the benefits: When wrapping things up, focus on how your solution is the key to improved business outcomes.
- Sync to their goals: Make sure they see how your offering perfectly slots into their objectives.
- Ask for some love: If they're thrilled, why not request a referral or even a case study? It's a win for future pitches.
- Chalk out the road ahead: Discuss the steps to ensure they hit the ground running once they're on board.
- Kick things off on the right note: Follow up to ensure the transition is smooth sailing from the get-go
Step 8: Post-sale follow-up and support
The post-sale stage is when dedicated account management becomes critical for B2B customer retention and expansion. This ongoing relationship nurturing opens doors for future opportunities.
Some best practices include:
- Start strong: Schedule those first meetings to get them onboarded smoothly. This sets the tone.
- Stay in touch: Regular check-ins aren’t just a formality. They let you monitor how things are going and address any hiccups.
- Offer a hand: Hosting training sessions or workshops? It's like giving them the tools to build a better future together.
- Technical buddies: Assign a tech expert to guide them. It’s like having a dedicated guide on a tricky trek.
- Feedback is gold: Use surveys. They give you a pulse on how happy they are in this partnership.
- Look for more: Spot upsell or cross-sell chances. It shows them more ways you can bring value.
- Show and tell: If they’re happy, request referrals or case studies. It’s a shout-out to how great you two are together!
- Be proactive: If they have concerns, jump on them. Quick solutions make for lasting relationships.
B2B sales process vs. methodology
A B2B Sales Process provides the roadmap guiding prospects through each stage, from initial outreach to closed deals. It brings structure and consistency to customer interactions reflecting the long nurturing relationships required. The process acts like a GPS mapping out each turn on the journey.
A B2B Sales Methodology focuses on the tactics, tools, and strategies reps employ within the process. B2B methodologies emphasize consultative relationship building over transactional interactions. They offer frameworks like solution selling and challenger approaches rather than one-way pitched promotions.
Let’s understand with an analogy.
The B2B sales process resembles the structured highway guiding you on a long trip. It provides efficient direction through each stage. Whereas, B2B sales methodology reflects your driving style and chosen vehicle optimized for the journey. It enables adapting strategies to each account.
In summary, the sales process brings consistency, while the methodology enables customization. B2B organizations need both - a repeatable workflow aligning to the customer journey, and agile strategies for execution. Defining the interplay between process and methodology is key to scaling success.
Learn more about the differences between sales processes and sales methodology.
B2B vs B2C sales process
Diving deeper into the world of sales, it's essential to distinguish between B2B and B2C sales processes. While both aim at closing sales, the dynamics, length, and intricacies vary.
In essence, B2B sales revolve around relationship building, organizational needs, and customization, while B2C targets individual desires with quicker, more straightforward transactions. Grasping these differences ensures tailored and effective strategies for each.
The B2B sales process flowchart
For B2B sales teams, visualizing the workflow can be just as important as defining the process itself. Sales flowcharts map out the customer journey to align teams and optimize performance.
Unlike generic flowcharts, sales flowcharts focus specifically on visually capturing the linear progression of a prospect through successive deal stages. They trace the path from initial contact all the way to closed contracts.
But sales flowcharts do more than just map the key steps. They also incorporate
- Decision points that indicate progression to the next level.
- Transition workflows between stages.
- Feedback loops to account for non-linear customer movement.
This guides reps on the points where leads should progress or recycle back based on qualification criteria.
Why create a sales flowchart?
For both sales reps and managers, flowcharts impart clarity in multiple ways:
- Illustrates the big picture: Seeing the whole customer lifecycle visually enables better training, decision-making, and optimization.
- Alignment across teams: A shared understanding of workflows, handoffs, and transitions facilitates collaboration.
- Gauging deal progression: Visual indicators help reps determine where prospects stand and if they are ready to progress.
- Identifying inefficiencies: Analyzing the visualized workflows reveals unnecessary steps or bottlenecks.
- Continuous improvement: Sales engineering and product teams can refine tools based on insights.
How to create a sales flowchart?
While shapes and formats vary, most sales flowcharts share three common components:
- Identify the steps and decision points - outline the essential linear stages from initial outreach to closed deals, plus decision gates.
- Define the flow of activities - Map out the transitions between steps and incorporate key feedback loops.
- Incorporate feedback loops - Capture scenarios where prospects can move backward or sideways in their journey.
Advanced flowcharts also illustrate workflows between departments and sales motions like nurturing, proposals, and contracting.
Real-world B2B sales flowcharts
For B2B companies, the steps may span months with multiple stakeholder sign-offs. Flowcharts help teams align around longer, more complex sales cycles.
B2B-focused features include visualizing consensus building, procurement processes, and expansion revenue. Cross-departmental workflows highlight handoffs between business development representatives (BDRs), account executives (AEs), and customer success.
By mapping the unique twists and turns of B2B sales, teams can streamline processes and enhance training. Visually codifying workflows also allows managers to optimize bottlenecks using data-driven insights.
Understanding the nuances and intricacies of sales flowcharts becomes much more transparent when one considers real-world examples.
1. Lead generation flowchart: This chart illustrates the journey from initial marketing campaigns to identifying warm leads. It captures the transition from an audience's first touchpoint, like an advertisement, to becoming a potential sales opportunity.
2. Sales qualification flowchart: Here, the focus is on initial outreach and evaluating a lead's genuine interest. It helps categorize leads based on factors such as budget, need, and decision-making authority, ensuring reps prioritize the most promising contacts.
3. Product demo flowchart: Essential for B2B sales, this flowchart outlines the process of showcasing product capabilities to prospects. It visualizes the steps from scheduling the demo to gathering feedback, helping reps ensure a seamless presentation experience.
4. Proposal and negotiation flowchart: This flowchart underscores the phases involved in tailoring a proposal to a prospect's specific needs and entering into negotiation discussions. It highlights key checkpoints like understanding requirements, drafting tailored solutions, and iterating based on feedback, ensuring both parties are aligned.
5. Closing and onboarding flowchart: This chart visualizes the transition from a verbal agreement to signed contracts and the subsequent steps for successful customer integration. It emphasizes the importance of proper documentation, clear communication, and setting the foundation for a lasting business relationship.
What are the best practices of a B2B sales process?
Here are some best practices for designing an effective B2B sales process:
- Customize for your business - Avoid adopting generic processes. Carefully align stages to your sales cycles, business models, and target customer profiles.
- Get leadership buy-in - Workshops and planning sessions ensure executives and reps are aligned on goals, metrics, and responsibilities.
- Pilot test initially - Run the workflow with a small team and refine it before a wider rollout.
- Integrate with CRM - Ensure your CRM seamlessly captures data to track client progression through each process stage.
- Optimize for convenience - Minimize friction by designing simple, logical steps that make it easy for prospects to engage.
- Continuously reassess - Use reports and feedback to identify areas needing optimization frequently. Refine regularly.
- Automate where possible - Leverage tools like email sequences, live chatbots, and templates to streamline repetitive tasks.
- Encourage feedback - Regularly gather insights from reps and customers to improve pain points.
- Allow flexibility - Build in room to accommodate prospects who deviate from the defined path.
Carefully shaping your process to match B2B sales realities is vital for scaling success. Constant refinement also ensures it evolves with your business.
Automate your B2B sales process with Luru
Implementing an effective B2B sales process is essential for scaling revenue. However, defining a workflow aligned to your sales cycles can be challenging without the right tools.
This is where Luru comes in. Luru is an innovative workflow automation platform that integrates across your tech stack - from CRM (Salesforce and HubSpot) to email, calendar, and meetings.
With Luru, you can easily build customized workflows that bring your defined B2B sales process to life:
- Automated alerts for stalled deals or missing steps.
- Reminders for logging calls and scheduling follow-ups.
- Notifications when sent emails are opened.
- Seamless CRM integration and data capture.
Luru removes the complexity of executing your sales process by seamlessly connecting workflows across platforms. Automation saves time while optimization increases conversion rates. It enables you to scale your B2B sales process efficiently. It ensures continuity, enhances productivity, and improves visibility.
Ready to implement your ambitious B2B sales process? Book a demo with Luru today to learn how our workflow automation can transform your execution.
- What are the steps in a B2B process?
The main stages are research, outreach, needs assessment, presenting value, handling objections, negotiation, closing, and post-sales account management. The specifics will vary across organizations.
- What is a good B2B sales strategy?
Focus on targeted outreach, taking a consultative approach, developing long-term relationships, conveying value clearly, and providing an excellent customer experience. Measure results continually to improve. You can learn more about B2B sales strategies here.