Your company’s sales team has mastered the art of spinning prospects into clients. The new client acquisition numbers impress on paper alone. But when figured into overall B2B sales growth, the picture isn’t as bright. In fact, sales growth – as much as your salespeople close deals – has stagnated. Sound familiar? Whether you are just starting out or need to revamp your efforts, here’s how to increase B2B sales growth in a few small steps:
Increase B2B sales by shifting your focus to existing customers
To turn stagnation into continued growth, pour resources into the existing customers that count. According to Sean Geehan, author of The B2B Executive Playbook and CEO of the Geehan Group, “the quickest way to achieve exponential growth is by focusing on your most important customers at the decision making level.” This means nurturing your top-tier clients – in this case, existing ones – where your value proposition can be heard and acted upon.
But why? Why all this talk about re-engaging clients that your company has already won over? It’s simple – targeting current customers can increase sales by 10% because they already trust your brand.
Other benefits? Current partners close deals faster, usually within three months or less. Since current partners require little to no “chase,” the cost of cross-selling to an existing B2B customer is negligible compared to the cost of wooing a prospect. That means existing customers are excellent for both increasing profits and reducing costs.
Now that you know the why, let’s cover the how. How can your company maximize profit from existing customers?
|1. Develop robust buyer personas to kick start B2B sales growth||Before sending sales on the prowl, set the stage to personalize future interactions with the customer. Build up buyer personas with data from social media, past interactions and more. Data-driven buyer personas equip sales with the tools needed to understand key decision makers.|
|2. Cross-sell and upsell to increase sales||Target specific customers with custom solutions that address their current pain points with cross-selling and upselling.|
|3. Incentivize customers with a rewarding incentive program||Consider developing an incentive program to reward repeat customers for their business. Incentive programs, much like well-placed cross-selling and upselling techniques, show customers that you are as invested in their wellbeing as your own, which increases brand loyalty and the bottom line.|
Align the sales and marketing teams to maximize B2B sales growth
Whether sales blames marketing for unqualified leads or marketing criticizes sales for poor communication, the contention between the two is as old as time itself. This tension arises when each department creates goals in a vacuum. To increase B2B sales growth efficiently, sales and marketing must be on the same page. And getting them on the same page starts with four key steps:
- Break up the discord and potential for undershooting company goals – by marrying one department’s goals to the other. Start with a meeting between the heads of each team. The intention of the meeting is to dissolve the “us vs. them” mindset, beginning with how the teams understand the sales funnel and each other’s roles in it. At the end, each team lead should understand how to increase B2B sales.
- Standardize their language. When sales says SQL, does marketing say SAL? Both abbreviations share the same definition. But if both teams use two different words to visualize their position in the sales process, that classic tension grows. Instead standardize the terms, metrics and view of the sales funnel so that sales and marketing speak the same language.
- Define transitions and hand-offs in the funnel. This is why it’s important to define what marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) means to each team. With solid definitions you can describe key steps in the stages between prospect and MQL, MQL and SQL. This ensures that everyone’s measuring the same progress, making hand-offs easier.
- Establish accountability with a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and a simple system of follow-ups on action items and goals to make success a certainty. While the SLA addresses expectations, the system of follow ups should map out the steps and actions it takes to meet those expectations.
In the end, your marketing and sales team should possess a simple, yet powerful set of procedures to harmonize their sales efforts. The lifeblood of your company’s financial wellbeing, marketing and sales leadership need to see themselves as two sides of the same coin – one hunting leads while the other closes deals.
Simplify the sales process
Sales can be difficult, and many companies over-engineer the sales process to account for it. Arbitrary steps and inefficient sales tools limit the collective power your salespeople have to close the deal in record time. Ultimately, you put revenue on the line when you can’t increase B2B sales growth without unnecessary check points. Simplify!
- Drop ineffective sales tactics. Most companies forget to meet leads where they hang out, choosing cold introductions instead. Cold-calling and direct mail may work sometimes but in today’s market of tech-savvy consumers, inbound marketing techniques are a better solution. If your company faces consistently low ROI for cold-calls or direct mail, consider researching where your target demographic actually is and greet them there.
- Decrease useless steps. The number of steps in your process slowing down sellers? Possibly. A sales process with more than 5-7 steps make tracking prospects in the pipeline harder, confusing salespeople. Reducing the number of steps in your company’s sales process frees up time, energy and money. With less to check off, it’s easier to track qualified leads on the marketing and sales sides.
- Fit the right CRM to your needs. Think about it: does your CRM solution fit your company’s size and practices? Does your company have a CRM solution? Research increasingly shows that the right CRMs increase sales while the wrong ones (or, lack thereof) can and do stunt it. Salespeople want CRM that helps them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
Simplifying your team’s sales process, scope and tools means that you’re decluttering space, leaving room for your sellers to practice their craft more efficiently. Take a look at your current sales process and CRM solution (if you have one). Are they more trouble than they’re worth? If so, sales will still be made, just as a broken clock will be right twice a day. But the resources to net such diminished returns will be wasted.
How to increase B2B sales? The simple answer – target existing partners. Your company has important work to do and big goals to accomplish. Make sure your company is positioned to increase sales by targeting existing customers, aligning sales and marketing’s goals, and re-considering how you approach your sales process.