“The way you position yourself at the beginning of a relationship has profound impact on where you end up.”– Ron Karr
Business-to-business selling, or B2B, may be among the most difficult sales work there is. You need to be knowledgeable in your field, and be able to give your clients everything they need. A good B2B sales force knows how to build great personal relationships with clients and buyers, and knows how to use marketing strategies.
Creating an effective B2B marketing strategy is essential as it can poise you as an expert in your field.
But what about your sales team?
What can you do to ensure the success of your team, and your company?
How can you make sure everyone is on the same page going forward?
This list will help you spot, keep, and maintain the strongest sales tribe for your business.
Hiring the Right B2B Sales Team
1. Find Someone Trainable
Aside from how skilled an individual may be or the amount of experience they have under their belt, one of your biggest concerns when evaluating a potential hire is if they are trainable. Software and workflows can change for every client or every project.
If you’re hiring a freelance worker on your team, or adding new people to tackle a major client, you’ll want to ensure that they can take instructions and adapt to your work environment.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions might sound a bit nebulous, but it’s actually critical to discovering how members of your team work, and how each member will fit together.
When evaluating any applicant, try to look beyond technical qualifications. Try to create a profile out of them. Does the candidate have a tendency to show off or take over? Does he have a rigid idea of how work is done?
One way you can put together a profile is while you’re asking about goals and previous work experience, sneak in these following questions:
· Would you rather work in smaller or larger teams?
· What is your workflow like?
· Talk about a time you didn’t meet your targets, and how you would regroup if that happened? (because it will!)
3. Encourage Diversity in Hiring Practices
In this day and age, diversity has proven to be a great way to maximize the capabilities of your team. You’ll need a diverse sales team ready to tackle a variety of business leads. A sales team with all the same background, education, language, and specialties risks alienating your buyers and pigeonholing your company.
Balance your team out with men and women, introverts and extroverts, with a variety of skills and backgrounds. Promote from within to ensure diversity is found in senior and leadership positions. Studies show that encouraging diversity in the workplace leads to a healthier company culture, and is also good news for your bottom line.
Training your B2B Sales Team
1. Train Thoroughly
Improper training and support are one of the major reasons for employee turnaround. Take time to thoroughly train your team no matter the circumstance. This applies to when you’re hiring a freelancer to help you create content for your marketing campaign, building a new team to take in new clients or just filling in a new position.
Shadow the people you are bringing to your company. Familiarize new hires with workflow and any Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or other software you use. Introduce them to the company culture immediately. Keep in mind that training doesn’t stop. Keep your team engaged with free web training, and coaching opportunities.
An open-door policy is a great way to foster trust among the team. Give each member of your sales team a chance to speak at regular weekly or bi-weekly meetings. If your B2B sales partners are online or out of office, set up a weekly Skype meeting, or at least, send out a weekly email that celebrates your successes and underlines objectives for the next few weeks. This can help your remote sales force feel more connected to the office culture.
3. Be Clear in Your Objectives and Your Feedback
Spend time analyzing your team’s performance. Consider what you have, what you know, and what you can do when forming goals to target areas that need improvement. Always aim for growth.
You can avoid creating unnecessary sales stress by choosing important KPIs for your team and company and using that as a reference to set goals that match your business model and workflow. For example: If your business is at its busiest and most profitable in the summer months (June-September), setting the same sales goal for February or dead months, could be discouraging.
During times of business doldrums, it might be better to look at other avenues of improvements than trying to brute force your team to reproduce numbers you got in your best months. A sample endeavor would be creating a content strategy to generate more interest to your blog, social media, and business.
Throughout the B2B Sales Team
1. Set Clear and Measurable Targets
We’ve covered this in the previous section, but working with your sales force to develop clear and measurable strategies that your marketing team (including remote and contacted members) can implement, is important to building a hard-working and loyal sales team.
Keep an eye on those KPIs and analytics, and share them with your sales personnel. Through this, you ensure everyone has the same goals and objectives in mind.
The goal is to keep each team member motivated and moving forward. Having everyone on the same page is part of the reason why clear and regular communication is so important, whether you have a remote sales force or freelance content marketing team.
2. Use the Right Equipment
CRMs have drastically changed the way business works. The right CRM can help you create a highly targeted B2B prospect lists, automate much of your content creation, and keep everyone in the loop when it comes to clients and campaigns.
Most CRMs exist on secure servers and in the cloud. This way, you always know who has access to what and when. That makes it easier to keep track of what’s going out (and when), and who is responsible for it, in real-time.
In addition to a CRM, you also want a teamwork platform, like Trello or GoToMeeting, which allows teammates to communicate as a group, or individually, wherever they are, and reach out for help when they need it.
3. Foster a Sense of Cooperation Over Competition
It’s true that gamification can grow your sales in some ways. Leaderboards can help make meeting targets feel more exciting. This can also foster healthy competition in the workforce. But more than the competition, your team needs to work together to be successful. Set goals for the team as a whole, as well as individually, to foster a greater sense of teamwork. Share in each other's missteps by taking the opportunity to learn from each other's mistakes.
Take the first step to build your B2B sales team
It goes without saying, taking time to appreciate the team you’ve got will foster company loyalty, and help it feel like you’re growing together – as a business and a team. In short:
Set objectives and goals together.
Celebrate your successes.
Build a company culture of teamwork and camaraderie.
Remain communicative and transparent with your team so when it comes to tough events like letting go of people, everyone will be in an understanding. Firing is tough, but in the end, it’ll make your remaining team stronger, and free up resources so you can get the right people, which, as we’ve seen, is the most important thing for the longevity of your business.
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