The B2B sales strategy you build will determine whether your strategic plans fully launch or fully fail.
You need a clear plan in order to grow your business and gain a competitive advantage over your competition, and an effective sales strategy can do just that.
But not all sales strategies are created equal, especially when your goals include providing your service or products to other businesses.
Below we’ll take a look at what a sales strategy looks like and why it should include inbound marketing methods.
What Is A Sales Strategy?
A sales strategy is a well-researched, written plan for how you’ll position your product or service in the market and sell it to your target customers. In the case of crafting a B2B (business-to-business) sales strategy, your target audience is other small businesses that could benefit from the services or products your company offers.
A successful sales strategy guides your sales team on how you’ll set yourself apart from your competitors to make your brand, product, or service seem like the better choice among prospective customers.
Knowing who your potential customers, or other business owners, are is a key component of this strategy. What matters to one business owner may not matter to another. You should have a clear picture of what that decision-maker needs. Ask yourself these questions to determine your buyer persona:
- Who are their target customers?
- How are they attracting and engaging them?
- What problems or issues are they facing in their business?
- How can I help them find a solution to these problems?
Your sales strategy should also include components like:
- SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timeframe-specific goals
- Growth goals: Goals for developing sales team agility and scalability
- Sales process: A pre-established set of steps, sales pitches and resources used to make the sale
- Key performance indicators (KPI): What you need to track in order to know you’re on track toward meeting goals
- Team structure: How many people do you need or who you need to put your plan into action
- Technology: What type of technology do you need to streamline the sales process and maximize the productivity of sales reps
- Buyer personas: Who your target customers are like we discussed above
- Selling methodologies: How you relate to prospective buyers and the best way to reach them
When your sales strategy reaches your ideal buyer with a message that resonates, your brand will attract other businesses who need your services in order to grow themselves.
What Is An Inbound Marketing Strategy?
You’ve likely been exposed to and used outbound marketing efforts. The opposite of inbound methodology, outbound sales is the traditional approach of casting a wide net out to as many potential clients as possible.
While you can do today’s technology like email and text to accomplish this, this methodology is still rooted in the “numbers game.” The more people you try to sell to, eventually someone will say “yes.”
However, outbound sales is extremely difficult, not time efficient and often costly without much return on your investment.
On the other hand, the inbound methodology more closely meets ideal customers where they are in their journey. The goal of an inbound marketing strategy is to get the right person to move forward in the buyer’s journey.
What is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing lets you market to your ideal customer by providing them with targeted information. This information helps them solve challenges they have or provide a solution to a problem. This in turn improves the chances of you establishing a level of trust with the potential client and ultimately landing a sale.
Why is inbound marketing more effective today? Buyer behavior has changed. Potential clients turn toward their phones, social media and the web to research companies they want to work with before they ever make that initial contact.
In other words, inbound marketing is effective because it allows the consumer to become acquainted with your company on their terms, not yours.
How Does Inbound Marketing Fit Into A Sales Strategy?
It’s critical to align your sales and marketing teams. Both work together to generate leads and nurture them to the point that both sales and marketing agree they’re qualified. Sales take the baton and use the messaging marketing developed to close the deal, turning leads into new customers.
The four inbound marketing phases illustrate this:
Your marketing strategy begins by attracting the most qualified prospects for your products and services. To attract the right businesses to your company, you will use a host of tools such as blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), your website and social media.
Once prospects visit your site, the next step is to develop them into qualified leads by gathering their contact information. Typically at the early stages of contact, you’ll only need their email addresses. However, as they move through your sales funnel, more information may be requested.
In order for a prospect to give up that information willingly, you’ll need to offer something of value in return. This is called an offer. Examples of offers include eBooks, white papers, case studies or tip sheets.
To convert visitors to leads, you will use tools like calls-to-action, forms and landing pages, which are the pages where your visitor is sent once they click on a call-to-action button.
Now that you have converted visitors to leads, the next step is to transfer them into customers. Closing tools include customer relationship management (CRM) software that allows your sales team to keep detailed records of your contacts, email to keep you front and center of your prospects’ minds and marketing automation which allows your sales reps to focus on their clients instead of repetitive tasks like follow-up emails.
Now it’s time to delight. Once a lead becomes a customer, you’ll need to provide value in the form of additional content continuously. The goal is to turn your current clients into promoters of your business.
Tools at this stage include surveys, smart text and social monitoring (or keeping track of social media conversations about your business).
Long-Term Sales Growth Requires A Plan
If your goal is to increase your B2B sales, it’s important to have a long-term sales strategy in place. Inbound marketing is designed for long-term growth because it reflects current buying habits, is cost- and time-efficient, focuses on finding qualified buyers and offers value.
Potential buyers today have the power and a voice. Your target market includes fellow business owners who are making important decisions that will impact the success of their own businesses.
By harnessing that power and using it to propel your brand, you can both respect your customers and land on a trajectory that spurs ongoing growth.
Olivia is the Co-Owner and VP of Sales for InTouch. She loves getting to know and connecting with people.