The Perfect Sales Process fo B2B Sales

Building Your Perfect Sales Process for B2B Sales [Infographic]

On paper, building a sales process for a B2B sales team may seem like an easy job.

Identify a gap in the market, target the right prospects, write your sales scripts, and wait for the deals to roll in.

Boom! Done! No… Not done… Just getting started.

The sales process has changed dramatically over the past decade, and it is constantly evolving, making what was once a quite straightforward process into a complex and uncertain one.

But, if you get it right. It’s worth the extra effort.

Companies that get the B2B sales process right are the ones that move with the times, react to shifts in their marketplace and become innovators and disruptors by using new technologies, tools, and channels of communication.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of sales processes, as well as share our five best actionable ways to enhance your current B2B sales processes and become that industry disruptor that always manages to stay one step ahead.

[Skip to the “Enterprise vs mid-Market vs SMB Sales Process” Infographic]
[Skip to the “5 Ways to Enhance Your B2B Sales Process” Infographic]

A Sales Process Is a Sales Process, Right?

Well, not exactly.

There are a number of differences between enterprise, mid-market, and SMB (small to medium size businesses) sales processes, and it is understanding these differences that will help your business determine and leverage the right business model for your service or product.

The Enterprise Sales Process

The enterprise sales process involves reps having to navigate complex organizational structures in order to understand who the key decision makers are, how to negotiate with multiple stakeholders, and how to be ready and primed for a longer, buying process. With the longest buying cycles range from three to twelve months, selling into the enterprise becomes more like a project and a lot of collaboration and planning is required from both the buy and the seller before a deal is reached.

That being said, selling into the enterprise can still be quite alluring for organizations to market and sell into. With more of a focus on service and less of a price sensitivity, enterprise deals are typically significantly larger than both mid-market and SMB.

The Mid-Market Sales Process

In a Mid-Market scenario, there are fewer decision makers and decisions are likely to be more impulsive, as there are less protocol and bureaucracy processes to navigate. Furthermore, sales cycles are significantly shorter than enterprise organizations, but not quite as short as an SMB.

The SMB Sales Process

While it is easier to get the business owner or a co-founder on the phone, the small to medium-sized business possibly has the hardest challenge when it comes to generating new business vertical, especially if they are operating in a competitive market. They must constantly build awareness and develop their products or services, all while operating on a smaller budget and with fewer people.

However, while the sales process nuances between each type of business are different in scale, the series of events leading to a sale are largely the same.

Enterprise vs Mid-Market vs SMB Sales Process Infographic 

Enterprise vs Mid-Market vs SMB Sales Process Infographic 

5 Ways to Enhance Your B2B Sales Process

Companies without a clearly defined B2B sales process will not get very far with a scattered approach. When the pieces of the B2B sales process fit perfectly into place, you engage with more leads, close more deals, increase sales and boost your bottom line. And, once you get this right, it is a process that you can repeat over and over.

1.  Take The Time To Clearly Define and Communicate Your Sales Process

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln.

A common mistake that many sales teams make is not taking the time to define the sales process for their product or service. While the typical sales process is defined in the stages of Prospecting, Qualification, Consideration, Decision, and Close it’s important to define your own.

This process of planning how your deals will move through the entire sales process can take time to define, communicate, and enforce, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

In fact, in a Harvard Business survey, it was discovered that there was “an 18% difference in revenue growth between companies that defined a formal sales process and companies that didn’t.”

So what does it mean to have a defined sales process?

Having a defined sales process means having clearly defined stages and milestones that are universally understood by everyone from your sales leaders to the front line sales reps. The sales team shouldn’t be guessing where a particular deal is in the process or how they should be managing deals in each stage.

Furthermore, your sales process should align with how your customers move through their buying process (this is also defined as the customer journey). Too many sales teams use generic sales processes and consequently get generic sales performance.

2. Identify Your Ideal Prospect

There was a time when prospecting was as easy as picking up the phone. Within a few minutes on a cold call, a salesperson would know whether the prospect was worth pursuing or to move onto the next call. This hit-and-miss approach has thankfully been replaced by much more targeted processes. Prospecting software, laser-precision sales and marketing strategies, and customer behavior analytics have made the prospecting process so much easier.

If you don’t know or haven’t yet defined who your ideal prospect or potential customer is, don’t panic.

Take a look at your 50 to 100 most recent customers. Taking a deep dive into your most recent customers and looking for patterns and trends will allow you to build out what is called customer personas or buyer personas.

Hubspot defines a buyer persona as, “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

The clearer you define your customer personas, the better your sales team will be able to address they’re “pain points” and marketing will be able to target them with targeted lead generation marketing campaigns.

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B2B Sales Operation Playbook

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3. Stop Selling and Start Teaching

One of the problems that many organizations face is that their sellers are so focused on… well, selling. However, one of the big trends we are seeing at the moment is the shift from selling to teaching. Instead of starting with the hard sell, which these days can put off potential prospects, start by educating them about your products or services.

Take a look at your current customer touch points along the buyer’s journey and see where you can teach your customers something.

Try adding actual useful information to your SDR’s cold email cadence, or actionable advice to your company’s blog posts (kind of like this one…).

Identify with the problem your prospects are experiencing, be empathetic, but don’t ask for anything in return. This type of approach can be used over email or in person or can form the basis of your entire marketing strategy. Using a softer approach will allow you to work your B2B leads for longer.

4. Be Ready to Negotiate, Evade, and Keep Things Moving

Two things remain true with selling any product or service, everyone wants to feel like they’re getting a good deal, and everyone asks for discounts.

It’s natural for prospects to ask about your price model early on in the sales process, but if you’re not ready and you haven’t “warmed them up,” on the value you’ll be providing, you’ll lose them over the sticker shock.

A good sales process will save the real price negotiations for later on in the sales process. Equipping your salespeople with all of the tools and language they need to ask ROI questions, and how their solution will be addressing pain points of the customer will assure the deal keeps moving through the process.

Two example questions/rebuttals for the “What’s your best price?” question are:

Would it be OK to ask you a few quick questions first to make sure what we offer would be a good fit for you and your company?

Or

Mr. Prospect, I’d be happy to help you with that – quick question… Let’s assume for a moment that you really like our price – what happens next?

With these questions, you’ll be able to pivot the conversation from price to value.

Bonus Tip For Enterprise Sales Negotiations: Once the deal does get to the stage of true negotiations, aim to introduce as many non-monetary points of negotiation as possible. Proposing additional professional services, contract lengths, or cross-marketing can be enough to push a deal over the edge and retain the deal size.

But remember, while no one likes a slightly lower commission, if you want to remove friction from the sales process, it’s ok to offer a fair or modest discount (within profitable margins – and with approval). Offering a modest discount can be seen as an exchange for healthy buyer-seller engagement as well as the difference between getting a final decision of won vs lost.

5. Measure the Effectiveness of Your Sales Process

So now you have your beautiful sales process humming along, but is it working?

While it is critical to define your sales process, it’s also important to optimize and measure how well you’re doing.

To get started on measuring the effectiveness of your sales process you first need to find baselines or benchmarks for two numbers both, “Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate” as well as “Opportunity to Close Rate.”

First up, lead to opp rate.

The Lead to Opportunity Conversion Rate reveals what percentage of your new leads are turning into opportunities.

Once you know what your lead to opportunity rate is, you can answer questions like, “are my salespeople getting enough leads to hit their goal?,” and, “Are my salespeople effectively following up with those leads?

If your salespeople are converting a high number of leads into opportunities, but they’re still missing quota. That could mean your marketing team needs to step on the gas and generate more leads.

If your salespeople are converting a low number of leads to opportunities, you’re having the opposite problem and their lead follow up could be the problem.

Next up, opp to close rate.

The Opportunity to Close Conversion Rate reveals what percentage of your sales opportunities become paying customers.

If your opp to close conversion rate is really high, your salespeople might be too selective with the accounts they choose to work and are cherry-picking prospects who are already determined to buy.

While this sounds great, you might be leaving money on the table.

If your opp to close rate is extremely low, your salespeople might require more training.

If this is the case, take a deep dive into each of the sales process stages and see where prospects are dropping out. Are prospects saying they’re not interested in the first call or cold calling? That might be a great opportunity to coach your salespeople to teach and not push so buyers view them as a resource.

Repeating the Process for Indefinite Success

Every connection, every appointment, and every interaction is an opportunity for you to repeat the process above for continued success. The B2B sales process may take a while to master and may require tweaking along the way, but, once defined, it will go on delivering results for your business indefinitely.

5 Ways to Enhance Your B2B Sales Process Infographic

5 Ways to Enhance Your B2B Sales Process Infographic


If you’re looking for a way to increase your company’s sales forecast accuracy, get deal-level insights into your entire pipeline, reduce deal slippage, and simply close more deals? Schedule a demo of the Datahug platform. Then call your CFO to let them know your team is going to be crushing their sales goals next quarter.