- If you haven’t checked out the first part of this article, it’s just the right time to fill the gaps. You need to know about all the options before you choose the right one for your business.
- If you have checked out Sales methodologies v.1, jump right into this article — for the exact same reason :) We’re sharing five more high-performing sales methodologies you can’t miss!
A continued list of sales methodologies for B2B
If you feel like the previous list of sales methodologies didn’t tickle your fancy or simply wasn’t enough for your extensive sales strategy, we’ve put together the second part of the sales methodologies list for B2B organisations.
Signal Based Selling
From article to article, we keep claiming that data is one of the most valuable business assets in the 21st century — because it’s true! At the same time, however, we must point out that it comes with the caveat that data is only valuable when you use it and process it correctly. Otherwise, it's just a lot of wasted potential and missed sales opportunities.
Today, when the vast majority of B2B sales take place in the digital realm, it’s safe to claim that almost all interactions between businesses and their potential customers get captured. To get the most out of this data, you need to analyse each interaction and single out the ones that lead to conversions and the ones that lead to churn. Then, you can extrapolate your findings and assume which buyer and sales rep behaviour is good news for your business’s bottom line and which isn’t.
That’s where signal-based selling comes into the picture.
What is Signal-Based Selling?
Signal-based selling is a sales technique that focuses on studying interactions between your sales reps and customers to detect the combination of actions and factors that lead to a won deal. As a result, you get a clear map of customer behaviours that signal strong buyer intent and a set of winning behaviours that reps should replicate to achieve sales success.
Depending on the nature of your business, the peculiarities of your target market, and the relationships you’ve already established with your target audience, the top buying signals worth paying attention to will vary. However, there are several universal soft and hard signals that can tell you the buyer is interested in moving further down the sales funnel or even making a purchase from your business. Here are our top-3 soft signals:
- Questions about business problems that your product or service can solve. Whenever you come across a post on social media, a forum entry, or any other help request talking about a business problem your prospect is facing, consider it your lucky day! Not only does it lay the foundation for native, unobtrusive outreach, when you can easily establish a connection with your prospect, but it also enables a challenger approach to sales where you get to educate your prospect on the possible solutions to their problems.
- Engaging with a competitor or asking around about the competitor’s product. While it might sound counterintuitive, it’s actually a great buyer signal when your prospect interacts with your competition; it means they’ve already realised a problem and are currently on a hunt for a solution — the buyer intent is at an all-time high. Use it as an opportunity to point out why your offering is superior to your competitor's (just make sure you don’t sound too salesy or pushy).
- Publishing industry-related content. If you see your prospects posting content related to your business in one way or another, you can reach out to them to see if they’re potentially facing a problem your product or service helps to solve.
On top of that, there are also a couple of hard signals that often get overlooked despite being indicative of a potential customer’s strong buyer intent:
- Engaging with your brand on social media. If your prospect is among your social media followers or engages with your brand’s content online by liking your posts and commenting on them, you can consider it a good outreach opportunity.
- Requesting feedback about your product or service. Whenever prospects are looking for customer reviews of your product or other social proof, it’s a clear indicator of their interest that makes outreach worthwhile.
By identifying and using only verified customer intent and leading indicators of success, you get to cut the noise and focus on money-generating activities.
What’s important to remember if you want to successfully use signal-based selling to increase your sales is that all data must be stored in one place and well-organised. If you want to react to all the buying intent signals promptly, you need to know the context and be able to see the bigger picture. This is difficult to do when your data is in silos. Ideally, you should use a CRM system that instantly records all the interactions with leads and customers, including emails, calls, social media mentions, direct messages, etc., and maps them to sales reps, contact and company records, and deals.
When to use Signal-Based Selling? The signal-based selling methodology is useful for every B2B business, and its principles can be applied at every stage of the B2B sales cycle — it can help you build an effective sales pipeline and maximise your sales regardless of the product or service you’re offering.
The next sales methodology we will cover is noticeably less common among salespeople — not because it’s less effective (on the contrary, some claim it brings the best financial results), but because it requires a lot of time, skill, and effort.
What is Value Selling?
Value selling is exactly what it sounds like: instead of pitching your product and the features it offers, you sell the value the customer can get out of using it. Instead of actively nudging the lead towards making a purchasing decision, the sales rep takes a consultative approach and educates them on the benefits they can receive.
So, one of the key differences between traditional product-based selling and value-based selling is that the sales rep adopts a customer-centred approach in the decision-making process instead of the business-centred one. You put your customer's needs first, helping them to make an informed decision, hopefully, in favour of your product or service.
That, however, is only possible when you genuinely understand what the customer wants and needs. For this reason, value-based selling relies heavily on learning your target audience, uncovering their pain points, and understanding their processes. It’s all about personalisation!
Therefore, before taking on this approach, you need to do your homework:
- Investigate your prospect’s company website, business pages, and all the other mediums that can shed light on the internal processes within their company.
- Check out recent mentions of the prospect’s company in the press — this will give you an insight into what the prospect has been going through and which problems they might be facing.
- See if you have any common connections. This will give you a headstart in establishing a connection with the prospect and some grounds for further research. If you have a client that knows this prospect, you can ask them to share some information.
Once you have all this information up your sleeve, it’s time to use it. Don’t rush into pitching your product based on what you’ve learned. Instead, take the education-first approach and teach your prospect about something they might not know but can benefit from. Take baby steps and build some rapport before you jump into selling.
Ensure you provide value during every interaction with your prospect so they see you as their friend and know they can trust you. This constitutes value-added selling, a technique within the value-based selling methodology.
Depending on the peculiarities of your prospect’s business and their specific needs, you might benefit from one of the following four value-based selling frameworks:
- Value-based selling with a focus on qualitative value. Here, you traditionally talk about your product's more abstract, vague, qualitative benefits. The main idea of this approach is to single out several pains your prospect has and show how your product can overcome those.
- Value-based selling with a focus on financial incentives. The majority of business people start businesses with a financial goal in mind. Big missions aside, they all want to make money. Show how your product or service can help your prospect generate more money and strengthen your value proposition by providing hard figures and specific calculations. To make your offering even more compelling, tap into the powers of social proof — talk about a similar business that has invested in your product in the past and how much revenue they’ve generated thanks to it.
- Value-based selling with a focus on differentiation. The most successful businesses usually stand out from the crowd and attract customers with their uniqueness. Hence, most B2B companies want to differentiate themselves from the competition. Capitalise on that wish and explain how your product or service can help your prospect realise and highlight the unique aspects of their branding.
- Value-based selling with a focus on risk aversion or enhances security. Anxiety and fear of failure are among the most powerful motivators. Play into this by identifying your prospect's biggest business fears and suggesting how your product or service can help them dodge those bullets.
When to use Value Selling? Value selling is the best methodology when you’re selling a conventionally expensive product and expect significant price-based sales objections from your potential customers.
Learn how to handle sales objections in our article!
Alternatively, you can resort to value-based selling when you run a business in a saturated market and can’t make a lower price or your product’s outstanding characteristics your unique selling point.
But even if your offer doesn’t fall into either of these categories, value-based selling is still worth a shot. It is one of the hottest sales trends and something many consumers expect: according to stats, 92% of buyers want to hear a value proposition early in the sales cycle.
People are suckers for easy ways out. When they have a burning question that needs to be answered ASAP, or a problem that’s causing so much pain they need it fixed instantly, they don’t want to fuss around listening to all the vague benefits specific features of your product can bring. Instead, they want a ready-made solution that will make things right in a snap of fingers.
And that’s why the solution selling approach was invented — to address those points and offer a quick fix that will make things right.
What is Solution Selling?
Solution selling is a sales methodology that takes a customer-centric approach to selling and focuses on solving customer problems, both deep-rooted and unrealised, and surface-level and expressed.
The main idea behind this sales approach is that it focuses on the “why” aspect of the potential sale over the “what” one. You need to clearly explain why your solution is valuable and how it can bring the customer to the next level at a relatively small price.
To be able to excel at solution selling, you need to get a firm grasp on the prospect’s general circumstances as well as a fair share of knowledge of their industry, the unique challenges they face, the goals they aim to achieve with their business, etc. Ideally, you should have some experience with similar customers and understand what they’ve gone through to offer a viable solution to your prospect’s problems.
For that, you need first to carry out preliminary research of your prospect and find out as much as you can about their industry, their workflows, their recent developments, and their problems. Then, you need to confirm your findings and further diagnose your prospect by conducting a sales discovery call. It’s essential to prepare the right questions to find specific facts and figures that will help you build a case for your solution.
During the call, you get to achieve three main goals:
- Identify the causes of the lead’s pain: What’s causing the buyer’s pain? How are those factors ranked in terms of importance and impact?
- Calculate the magnitude: What’s the extent of the pain’s impact on the prospect, their team, and their company in general? How many people will benefit from solving the problem?
- Get buy-in: Give your potential client a sneak peek into life with your product — will they be excited to see the results your solution can offer?
When to use Solution Selling? Solution-based selling works best for highly-customisable products and services that can accommodate customers’ needs. It would also be a good approach if you offer bundles, i.e. can mix and match different products and supporting services to provide your customers exactly with the solution they need. Nothing less, nothing more.
Another customer-centric approach to selling that focuses on understanding and fixing customer problems rather than pitching the product’s features is conceptual selling. The only difference between conceptual selling and value-based selling or solution selling is that the former doesn’t focus on the product at all. Instead, it promotes an idea of life customers could achieve with the help of the product.
What is Conceptual Selling?
The main idea of conceptual selling is to focus on the concept of the product rather than the product itself. Often, this happens because the mechanism of the product is difficult to understand or hard to explain and, therefore, is rather insignificant.
Effective conceptual selling is impossible without an effective framework for planning and conducting customer interactions. To pitch a product using this sales methodology, sales reps need to focus on what and why customers buy, and what makes them seek a solution for their problem.
Therefore, it’s possible to outline the following key concepts of conceptual selling (pun intended!):
- Focus on the concept, not the product. Instead of selling an object that exists in real life, pitch its qualities that customers seek.
- A solid understanding of both the sales process and the buying process. Sales reps need to have a solid idea of what’s happening on the buyer’s side: how they evaluate their current needs, prepare a budget, research competitors, and try to figure out the best solution. Then, sales reps need to align the two and make their product (or the concept thereof) the bridge between them.
- The win-win scenario. You should avoid dominating the sales process or even persuading your customers to buy your product. Instead, you should put emphasis on the fact that both the seller and the buyer have their own motivations and interests.
- A highly customisable approach. When selling a concept, you need to forget that “one-size-fits-all” solutions exist — it’s essential to tailor your offering to satisfy your particular prospect’s needs at the moment.
When to use Conceptual Selling? While conceptual selling is pretty versatile and can be used by businesses of different calibres and within different industries, some sales reps will find conceptual selling more effective than others.
Conceptual selling is best suited for B2B companies that offer services and other abstractions. It’s the best methodology for when you’re trying to sell an intangible product that is hard to describe.
On top of that, conceptual selling will also be beneficial to companies looking to establish a long-lasting relationship with their customers because of the long buyer cycles their offering is associated with.
In the past, customers used to rely heavily on sales reps to guide them to the solution, help them explore all the different options, and advise them on making a purchase decision. Today, with such extensive access to data, the situation has changed.
According to stats, by the time a prospect finally connects with a sales rep, they’re already more than 57% of the way through the buying cycle. They do their research, search for feedback, and compare available options independently.
And while you can’t impact that part of the buyer’s journey as a sales rep, you can influence it via marketing — that’s what inbound selling is all about!
What is Inbound Selling?
When using the inbound selling methodology, sales reps simply pick up where marketing leaves off instead of chasing leads and conducting cold outreach. Essentially, they attract qualified leads through inbound marketing — social media marketing, blogging, influencer marketing, and the rest.
To benefit from inbound selling, you need to…
- Define your buyer’s journey and craft appropriate content offerings for each stage thereof.
- Develop a sales process that supports your buyer through the journey: it’s important for the sales rep to be as helpful as possible during both the Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages of the journey.
- Identify leads that are already active, engaged, and interested in hearing from your business. Your marketing team needs to figure out a set of criteria that will help to highlight those leads and pass them on to the sales team.
- Connect with the leads you’ve identified to learn more about them, including their needs, wants, and pains. During this warm outreach, you can better understand whether you’ll be a good fit for each other.
- Once a lead gives a signal that they’re ready to listen, an inbound seller needs to step in and pitch the product. Remember to ditch the A-B-C (Always Be Closing) approach and adopt the A-B-H (Always Be Helping) one instead; you want to take a consultative position and gently guide your lead towards the conversion by explaining the value your product can bring them.
- Advise — at this point, if everything else went according to plan, the deal should come to a logical conclusion, where both the buyer and the seller feel like it was a mutually beneficial experience.
And remember, this methodology only works when your sales and marketing teams work closely together towards achieving the same goal! Learn how to synchronise sales and marketing teams in our article!
When to use Inbound Selling? This method works best for companies that pay attention to their marketing strategy or deal with informed customers.
Regardless of the sales methodology you choose to build your sales process upon, you need to remember that modern sales are all about gathering as much information as possible and utilising it effectively. A reliable CRM solution can help you with both tasks!
Give NetHunt CRM a try — the first 14 days are on us!
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