As founder and CEO of a B2B SaaS startup, I realized fairly early the importance of a team-driven approach to sales. The fast-paced nature of our industry leaves a small margin for error, with constant iterations for improvement being a mandatory practice.
While persistently iterating for optimal solutions, I’ve also noticed the opportunities for improvement with counterparts in the B2B space. More specifically, their failure to apply a more comprehensive approach to their sales strategies.
Marketing and sales teams dedicate a considerable amount of time and energy into developing outreach campaigns. As effective as these campaigns read on paper, the practical breakdown occurs when their targeted prospects attempt to engage.
This critical stage of interest is the time to involve your team resources as a cohesive unit, as opposed to treating new found acquisitions as a mere number to reach sales quotas.
This growing disconnect between the experiences modern buyers expect and deserve across the customer journey is especially disregarded in B2B sales.
B2C buying experiences, on the other hand, have evolved across all touch points – with the customers’ journey taking center stage. In comparison, B2B campaigns lack the collaboration required.
This article intends to highlight my observations and 5 actionable steps that have proven to succeed at Gmelius.
1. Create a Collaborative Sales Culture
The majority of goal-centric sales teams fail to foster an environment of collaboration. There seems to be a disconnect from the moment a prospect enters their ecosystem.
B2C strategies encourage a team approach with clear goals of customer satisfaction. On the other hand, B2B’s choose to focus on competitive tactics with individualized goals.
Competitive dashboards and performance bonuses become priority while creating an underlying divide to what’s happening with the rest of the organization.
I’m not attempting to devalue the power of competition but instead highlighting the influence of pooling every skilled resource within your team to acquire and retain targets.
In today’s climate, where customers have clear expectations and a multitude of options to choose from – a shift in sales culture is required.
Leading to the question: how do you as an organization change the culture of your sales team?
The answer is a unified approach; a modern one sorely needed in B2B sales.
2. Follow a Modern Approach to B2B Sales
The difference in this modern selling scenario is that the behind-the-scenes resources are more customer facing and collaborative.
What’s required now is an approach in the sales process that includes people from across your organization, united in nurturing and growing long-term customer relationships?
These changes are challenging, and may even raise pushback from your team, but they are worth the effort.
3. Develop Flexibility and a Growth Mindset
At times, your account executive (AE) will need to play the lead role and others to play supporting roles. You may have found this to be effective in most cases. Flexibility is required in times when it’s not.
A tag-team approach where your AE is the one in the supporting role, while the other leads, will work wonders for developing your prospect through your pipeline.
Here, trust and alignment in the team’s performance goals are crucial, while egos and titles take a back seat.
To accomplish the mission, it is essential the AE, accustomed to calling the shots, be willing to play a supporting role in this case.
Let’s consider the following scenario. Your prospect is a small business owner struggling to keep up with everyday operations and concerned about the level of support, she will be receiving.
Does your sales team trust your support team to briefly take the lead in order to close the deal?
My team will not bat an eye before looping in the support team to address the prospects’ fears directly.
On our shareable kanban boards, sales reps have a column just before the close stage. This transparent phase accessible by everyone from, customer support to senior staff, includes conversions the support team would be more credible in handling directly.
4. Promote All Hands Access & Transparency
While our sales team does remain the first touch point for prospects and leads, our collaborative sales process connects them with senior staff and product experts from across the company.
Our clients regularly interact with everyone from the product development team, to customer service reps, and myself included.
What are the immediate delivered benefits? The team is able to accelerate sales and the company acquires long-term client relationships with confidence.
Let me share with you an example of how my team accelerates a sale.
Instead of setting artificial deadlines to create urgency, they are motivated by delivering ultimate value to our prospects. Often times, this means bringing in another team member to deliver the added value – and close the deal.
With the amount of time, energy, and resources required to acquire a prospect, it’s only natural to do everything necessary to materialize them into a sale.
A practical example: an email from an IT manager of a large organization comes into our shared inbox. A shared inbox we pre-configured with our detailed onboarding process.
She asks a very technical question, one that may be beyond the scope of the sales rep/product coach. Engaging a senior member of product development is the next step. In this case our senior developer.
The developer will join in, answering questions and providing value in a way only their expertise would allow. Only after we fully inform our prospect will we reroute the lead back to the sales rep.
The onboarding inbox I mentioned is shared. This allows the syncing and sharing of every associated conversation between every team member.
From the standpoint of our customers, our handoffs are seamless. What’s happening in the background is true team collaboration. All hands of your team have access to work towards the common goal.
5. Align your Team towards the Common Goal of Increased Sales
While acquiring the sale does remain a priority, the lateral benefits include sales engineers becoming versed in the nuts and bolts of our product. This empowers our sales force and the team as a whole, to engage with the client in a stimulating interaction.
The sales cycle is an ongoing, customer-driven process. It needs customization and adaptation to the unique requirements of your varying buyer personas (or customer segments).
This asks for an unprecedented strategy and more than likely a forgoing of past practices with limited flexibility. Re-aligning each division of your team towards a common goal leads to an increase on the one metric that matters – increased sales.
While this approach suits SaaS companies best, my belief is you will find components within it you can apply – no matter your industry.