Business to business sales differs from business to consumer in that the factors that are important to success are not the same. A business manager’s focus will be on company to company relationships whereas an individual’s focus will be more at a personal level. Furthermore product knowledge is extremely important as a business manager will be concerned with issues that relate directly to his/her company. Also, differentiation is very important. The prospective client must see an advantage in doing business with another company. In addition interaction with a business manager is very important and listening can be the most important factor in establishing and maintaining a relationship. And finally it’s important to focus on the relationship before, during and after the sale.
- Know Your Products and Services – A business manager will evaluate a service provider based on the competency of the sales representative. If the person is perceived as not being knowledgeable about the company’s service offerings they’ll be viewed as uninformed and/or incompetent.
- Know Your Competition – A business manager will often ask why they should do business with your company. A prepared sales rep should know how to highlight the areas in which his/her company excels without bashing or even mentioning the competition.
- Match Contact Frequency to Purchase Phase – Contacting a purchase decision maker too often can result in lost sales. Not contacting them enough can have the same result. Understanding where the person is in the purchase decision process will help in knowing the answer. If they’re early in the process contacts should be less frequent. If they’re at the point of making a decision between different alternatives contacts should be very frequent.
- Focus on Listening – In business to business sales listening is more important than talking. A business manager will value a sales person’s efforts to understand his/her business situation. They may spend a good deal of time talking about their business and possibly how it’s impacted by service providers. All else being equal a business manager will choose the service provider that does the best job of understanding his/her business.
- Answer Questions Definitively – A business manager may ask some pretty tough questions. They should be answered directly and concisely. It’s OK to say ‘I’ll get back to you’ – especially if the product offering is diverse.
- Follow up diligently – In the early stages of a business to business relationship there are bound to be start up issues. It’s important to focus on these and get them smoothed out. Once business flow is established not as much attention will be required but in the beginning it can make the difference between success and failure.