Every time you interact with someone in a sales process there are one of two outcomes – a positive one, where things are more likely to progress, or a negative one, where things are less likely to progress.
If you work at adding value each time you interact with someone, you are more likely to get to a positive result.
Two Business to Business (B2B) Sales Types
There are two types of sales in Business-to-Business (B2B) :
- Low value, transactional – for example, buying photocopier paper.
- High value, complex – for example, buying a $200k software system.
Be prepared for the long haul
A higher cost, complex sale means it is a higher risk decision for your buyer. They won’t get fired for buying the wrong photocopier paper, but they could get fired for buying the wrong software system.
Because the decision is higher risk, there are usually more people involved in the decision.
And because of the perceived risk and the number of participants, the decision process tends to move forward slowly.
So, when you work in the high value, complex category, your sales cycle is longer – anywhere from 3 months to 12 months or more.
Long sales cycles mean lots of interactions
This means there will be a lot of interactions with your buyer.
You need to move forward patiently – not continually looking for the sale.
Don’t just periodically hit them up via email or LinkedIn to tell them you are “just checking back”.
Every time you interact with the buyer, you are either making things better or worse.
So how do you ensure you move forward to your end goal – a closed sale?
The answer is to consciously think about how you can add value every time you send an email or have a call with your prospective customer.
When the call or email is finished, how will they have benefited?
Ways to Add Value
You cannot add value if you don’t understand your customer.
So, the first step is to pay attention– make sure you understand what they do, what their business is like, and what their top concerns are.
Then the ways you can add value are:
- Tell them something they didn’t know – are you able to offer an insight that they won’t have seen before?
- Tell them what their peers are doing – speak about what you have learned from working with other businesses like them.
- Help them think about something in a new way – challenge some of the ideas they have, based on your experience.
- Show them relevant research they might not otherwise see – highlight news, articles or research that you think will be relevant and interesting to them based on their role and business.
- Help them become better at their job – point out industry best practices and other resources that will help them become more effective at what they do.
To really add value, you need to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and become an expert in some aspect of what you do.
This means that you can position yourself as a guide to the buyer over time.
Adding value will produce good outcomes
Part of working in B2B sales is learning to have patience.
Your sales process may take a few months. And that means lots of emails, calls and conversations.
If you make an effort to add value each time you are in contact with a buyer, the process will become easier.
Your prospective buyers will begin to appreciate your calls and emails, and will become more open to the next interaction. That will help you progress to the next stage in your sale.
And outside of the sales process, it is simply a good habit to think about how you can add value when you interact with other people.
Being a positive contributor over time will eventually work out for you.
You may not know when it will have a positive impact on your own goals.
But in business as in life, there is a form of karma. What you put out in the world will eventually come back to you in a positive way.
Written by Michael White
Michael White is co-founder and CEO of Motarme, the Sales Technology and Services vendor. You can find him on LinkedIn .