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Master the B2B sales process: Boost revenue in 7 steps

B2B Sales
min read

published on

February 8, 2024

A business-to-business (B2B) sales process is essential for closing deals and increasing your revenue. It enables your team to consistently generate new business and focus on sales techniques that resonate with your customers.

Building this process can feel daunting, but here at DJUST, we have figured out the best way to do it. With our simple, seven-step process, you can earn higher-quality customers, boost your team’s productivity, and see your bottom line grow.

Let’s get into it!

What exactly is a B2B sales process?

A full-funnel B2B sales process, or simply “a funnel,” is a multi-step sales and selling process that extends from marketing and building brand awareness to closing a deal and beyond. It is essential to turn leads into customers and customers into repeat buyers.

A well-developed B2B sales funnel can work for both inbound sales (when a potential customer approaches your company for help) and outbound sales (when your sales team initiates contact with a potential customer).

The length of your sales process depends on your business and customer needs. For example, you may be able to go from initial contact to signed contract in days or weeks if you are signing up a new customer for a small purchase. But larger sales — such as long-term contracts, expensive services, or ​​B2B wholesale deals — may take months to move through the funnel.

What are the benefits of implementing a B2B sales process?

There are four main reasons your business should implement a B2B process for sales.

Growth & increased revenue

A B2B sales process offers a streamlined way to turn leads into paying customers. A good process can help you:

  • Increase your business’s conversion rate and generate more sales.
  • Negotiate larger contracts that bring in more revenue and diversify your income.
  • Make additional sales to existing clients — a great way to increase your revenue per customer and customer retention rate.

Increased productivity

A sales funnel can boost your sales team’s productivity in several ways. For example:

  • Managers can see where each prospect is in your sales process and offer support at key stages.
  • Managers can use sales data to identify which leads are most likely to convert and prioritize those deals.
  • Sales employees have a roadmap to follow, ensuring they do not waste precious time on slow-moving deals or overlook critical steps that could lead to important sales opportunities slipping through their fingers.

Better qualification & targeting of prospects

Having a B2B sales process can help you define the types of customers you want and focus on finding them. For example, if you want customers who will generate repeat sales, your sales team can evaluate leads’ likelihood of becoming repeat buyers early in your sales process.

Improved tracking & analysis of sales data

Data from your sales process can help managers determine which parts of the process work well. They can also spot points where leads repeatedly fall out of your funnel and make changes.

What are the steps of a B2B sales process?

We have cracked the code for building an effective full-funnel sales process for your business. Follow the 7 steps below.

Step 1: Define goals

Many will insist you begin with market research, but we disagree. The real best place to start is by defining the goals you want to achieve with your sales process. (After all, without clear goals, how can you expect your research to be focused and meaningful?)

For example, you might want to:

  • Close more deals of any size.
  • Close more large sales (above a certain revenue threshold).
  • Increase revenue from existing customers.
  • Sell more of a particular product or service.

Your goals should follow the SMART framework: They should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

For example, say your goal is to close $10 million in deals. Here is how to make sure your goal is SMART:

  • Specific: Specify how much of your $10 million revenue goal you expect to come from existing customers versus new business. You can even specify how you expect different products or services to contribute to those sales.
  • Measurable: Create quantitative metrics for your goals. If your goal is based on revenue, for example, you could use anticipated revenue from new deals as the marker for success.
  • Achievable: Think critically about whether your goals are realistic. If your business made $1 million in sales last year, making $10 million this year is likely unrealistic. Doubling your revenue to $2 million may be ambitious but still achievable.
  • Relevant: Ensure your goals actually contribute to your business’s success. Selling more of a particular low-cost service, for example, may be relevant because it is an entry point for customers who you believe will generate more business in the future.
  • Time-bound: Set a timeframe for your goal. For example, specify that you want to close $10 million in sales in 12 months.

Step 2: Market research

Next, you must fully understand your market and potential customers. What problems do your customers have, and how is your business uniquely suited to solving them? The better you can answer this question, the better poised your company is to land new business.

We recommend following this process to conduct your research:

  1. List the qualities of your ICP (ideal business customer), such as their industry, location, revenue, and whether they already work with one of your competitors. You can get this information about your current and potential customers by exploring their websites and LinkedIn profiles.
  2. Speak with potential customers to better understand their pain points and determine how your business addresses them. Sending out surveys and attending industry conferences are good ways to hear from potential customers. Based on what you learn, you may need to refine your sales pitch or narrow your target audience.
  3. Research other companies in your industry, noting what they do well (e.g., affordable pricing) and what they might be overlooking (e.g., personalized customer experiences or streamlined B2B payment processing). This can help you understand what your competitors provide and how your company stands out.
  4. Make a list of competitive advantages your business can offer customers, such as fully customizable solutions, partnership incentives, tools to build a B2B marketplace, or technological features that competitors do not have. Your sales team can highlight these advantages during the pitch phase (Step 5) to encourage conversion.

Step 3: Lead generation & prospecting

Lead generation and prospecting involves reaching out to potential customers to bring them into your sales funnel. (You need to follow this step only for outbound sales. If a prospective customer contacts your business, you can move straight to Step 4.)

To build leads, your sales team must find businesses with the qualities you identified during your market research. Sales reps can research potential leads on LinkedIn, network at industry events, or search the web for companies that might be candidates for B2B partnerships.

After a sales rep finds a potential lead, they must do their homework on the company. Learning as much as possible about a prospect enables your sales team to score leads and prioritize connecting with the ones most likely to become customers. 

For example, if your sales team finds out that a lead does not already work with one of your competitors, that could be an opening for your business to introduce them to your services and land a deal.

Step 4: Qualification & needs assessment

Once you have strong leads, it is time for your sales rep to reach out. Or, in the case of inbound sales, your sales rep may already be on the phone with a potential customer.

During this initial conversation, your rep should introduce your company and begin a dialogue to identify the customer’s pain points. The ultimate goal here is to determine whether your company’s products or services can address the prospect’s needs.

Your sales team can ask questions like:

  • Does the prospect have a budget for your services?
  • Is the prospect currently using another solution for your services?
  • Has the prospect thought about using your services before?
  • What is the prospect’s timeline for implementing a service?

The answers to these questions will help your team determine if there is a truly viable opportunity to make a sale. That is, a prospect’s timeline and budget must align with what you can offer. If the conversation reveals that the company is not a good fit for your business, simply move on to the next lead.

Step 5: Presentation & pitch

Once your sales team knows your prospect’s pain points, they can create a personalized pitch explaining how your business can help address the problems. 

For example, say your team knows that a prospect is currently working with a competitor but is unsatisfied because of issues with the competitor’s product. Your team’s pitch should emphasize how your product solves those issues and how it can help the prospect’s business.

Alternatively, your team can assemble a more in-depth quote for a lead who has already expressed interest in your product or service. 

For example, if your business sells restaurant supplies, a sales rep could give the lead access to your products so the lead can try them out. This is a great way to let potential customers see firsthand how your business’s products can help them.

Step 6: Handling objections

Prospective customers will likely have questions following your pitch. They may have concerns about pricing, for example, or need help convincing superiors that your product or service is worthwhile.

Listen carefully to these objections and reframe the benefits of working with your business to address them. In some cases, prospects may simply need more information or a more in-depth demonstration.

For example, suppose a prospect has concerns about cost. In that case, you can discuss the return on investment they can expect from using your service. Or, you might compare the cost of working with your business to working with a competitor. 

Step 7: Closing the deal

The final stage of the selling process begins once a prospective customer has accepted that they need your product or service and are willing to invest in it. However, there is still work to be done. Your sales team and your new customer must negotiate pricing and contract terms and then finalize a deal. 

If there are any hiccups during this process, try to understand why the customer is hesitating. Are there issues with the price or concerns about your product? If you cannot resolve the underlying issue, offering “sweeteners” such as priority customer service, free training, or additional products may help you close the deal.

Expert advice: The secret 8th step is follow-up

When a deal is closed, your sales process ends — and a new customer relationship begins. This is where your business can stand out with a secret eighth step that we have seen too many companies miss: follow-up.

Have your sales team continue to communicate with your new customer as they transition to working with a product manager or customer success manager. This ensures that the customer knows that your sales team is still listening while they build a new relationship with your product team. 

Your sales team should also check in after onboarding is complete. This can leave a lasting impression and solidify the feeling in a customer’s mind that doing business with your company was a great decision. 

We have also found that it is one of the best ways to let customers know you have even more fantastic services they can use in the future.

During follow-up, sales reps should thank customers for giving your business a try and let them know to reach out if they have any questions. 

Reps should also check in with customers after a few weeks or months to ask how things are going. This is an excellent opportunity for reps to ask about any other pain points the customer has that your business may be able to help with.

KPIs to follow for a successful B2B sales process

Ensure your B2B sales process is successful by tracking these three KPIs:

Sales cycle length

Sales cycle length is the amount of time it takes for a lead to become a customer. It can increase due to delays in contacting promising leads, long objection periods, or slow negotiations around closing.

Time your leads spend in the sales cycle is time they are not producing revenue for your business. So, the shorter your sales cycle length is, the better.

Customer acquisition cost

Customer acquisition cost represents the average amount your business spends to land a new customer. High customer acquisition costs can signal that your marketing efforts and sales process might not be as efficient as they could be. 

You can calculate your customer acquisition cost as the total amount spent on marketing and sales in a year divided by the number of new customers acquired over that year. 

For example, if you spent $100,000 on marketing and sales activities in the past year and acquired 50 new clients during the same period, your customer acquisition cost would be $2,000 per customer ($100,000 ÷ 50).

Average deal size

Average deal size, also known as average contract value, is the average value of all your closed deals. You can calculate this by dividing the total expected revenue from your successful contracts by the number of successful contracts.

Average deal size gives you an indication of how much money your sales process is netting from each deal. A higher average deal size could indicate that your sales team is working on larger contracts or selling more add-on products and services with each contract.

Conversion rate ratio

The conversion rate ratio is the percentage of deals in your pipeline that resulted in successful contracts. 

To calculate this, divide the number of deals that crossed the finish line by the total number of deals in your pipeline in a given period. Usually, when determining this ratio, you consider only the leads that made it to the presentation and pitch step.

Watch for low conversion rate ratios, which can indicate issues with your last several sales funnel stages. To fix this, your sales team may need to improve your business’s pitch, handle objections better, or find more creative ways to get deals to close.

Tips & common pitfalls to avoid

We have seen many companies make the same mistakes and miss out on sales. Watch out for these common pitfalls to make sure your B2B sales process results in closed deals.

Burning leads

Pursuing leads that are unlikely to become customers wastes your sales team’s time. Sales reps should prioritize leads that show interest early in the sales process or have many of the qualities you laid out for your ideal customer. 

Implementing a lead scoring system based on these metrics can help your sales reps quickly find the best leads to spend their time on. For example, a rep might assign higher scores to leads that have requested product tours, ​​indicating a higher likelihood of conversion.

Rushing prospects through your sales process

Prospects who feel rushed to make a decision may walk away from a potential deal. Your sales reps should follow up with leads frequently without putting undue pressure on them.

Reps must also display empathy and be helpful rather than pushy. For example, when contacting leads, reps can ask how they can help move a deal along or answer questions rather than simply requesting an update.

It’s a delicate balance that takes time to achieve — but with patience, perseverance, and open communication with leads about their needs, you can build trust and guide them toward a confident, informed decision.

Overloading prospects with information

When your sales team is pitching your product or service, they should explain how it will solve a customer’s problem — but they should not overwhelm them with information. Reps should give a high-level overview of features and benefits, then follow up with more detail if a prospect wants to know more.

This is another tightrope to walk, but what can help is knowing a lead’s pain points and objections. This way, your sales team can better decide what information to prioritize sharing with leads.

The bottom line

A B2B sales process is essential for finding leads and converting them into customers. By developing a repeatable process, you can increase your business’s sales, boost your sales team’s productivity, and close deals faster.

Follow our seven-stage sales process to develop a B2B sales funnel for your business: 

  1. Define your goals.
  2. Do market research.
  3. Conduct lead generation and prospection.
  4. Assess a prospect’s needs.
  5. Present a personalized pitch.
  6. Handle objections.
  7. Close the deal. 

Remember to follow up with new customers to foster solid, long-lasting relationships. Finally, monitor KPIs (including sales cycle length, customer acquisition cost, and conversion rate ratio) to ensure your sales process generates new business effectively. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the basic 7 steps of a B2B sales cycle?

The seven steps of a B2B sales cycle are goal-setting, market research, lead generation, needs assessment, pitching, handling objections, and closing. It is also important to follow up with new customers after they close a deal with your business and exit your sales funnel.

What is the B2B sales process?

The B2B sales process is a multi-step process by which your business finds potential customers and converts them into paying customers. It involves identifying prospective customers, convincing them they need your products or services, and closing deals with them.

What are B2B sales?

Business-to-business (B2B) sales are sales from one company to another. They differ from business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, in which a company sells to individual consumers. A B2B sales example is a distributor selling products to retail store owners.

About the author
Alexis Delplanque
Co-Founder & Chief Sales Officer @ DJUST

Expert in topics on B2B sales, sales strategy, eCommerce, eProcurement, and revenue diversification

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