5 tips to significantly boost B2B sales conversion

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As any farmer will tell you, attention to detail and a preparedness to not cut corners are among the key disciplines underpinning any successful harvest. Picking the right seed, meticulous preparation of the ground, nurturing of the crop as it grows and knowing exactly when to harvest are much the same as the skills required by a successful b2b sales person.

Whilst the farmer’s yield depends critically on his activities at each stage of the agricultural cycle, the b2b rep’s conversion rate is ultimately dictated by the quality of his efforts at each part of the sales process and throughout the pipeline.

At a time when b2b sales conversion rates across many verticals are worryingly low, few can deny that small changes to approach can make a big difference to conversion outcomes.

With this in mind, here’s 5 suggestions for strategies that will help turn a No into a Maybe, and a Maybe into a Yes.

1. Define & Measure

It’s been said a thousand times, you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Knowing your conversion rate(s) is a first step in understanding the performance of your sales funnel. Whilst for many of us, conversion is simply when a prospect signs up as a customer, there are many other conversion types in a typical funnel and you’d be well served to identify and track each of them over time. We suggest you consider other variables as well. For instance, not all leads are created equal. Referrals and inbound sales enquiries typically perform and convert at much higher rates than those generated from cold call outreach or poorly qualified leads, so understanding the conversion rates of each lead type is crucial, as of course is a strategy that delivers those leads in sufficient volumes that, when combined with your known conversion rate by lead type, meets or exceeds your sales revenue target.

2. Smarketing

A sure way to kick start conversion rate gain is effective alignment of your b2b sales and marketing functions. When the two disciplines pull together, one of the biggest benefits is you’re quickly able to build a much more detailed understanding of your prospects and customers which in turn allows for significantly more robust tailoring and personalisation of sales conversations. The best smarketing programs are the ones that get both departments on the same page around that objective. This reportstates that “where companies have dynamic and adaptable sales and marketing processes, an average of 10% more salespeople are on-quota compared to other companies”, and “organisations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions have 38% higher sales win rates“. Bottom line, strong alignment of sales and marketing processes will inevitably deliver a quantifiable lift in sales opportunities and conversion.

3. Build Credibility

With potential buyers likely to have done their homework on you and your competitors before you even talk with them, content such as case studies and ROI testimonials that build credibility can have a seismic impact on conversion rates. It goes without saying that the words of the businesses that have positively benefited from their relationship with you carry more weight than your opinions about your own awesomeness.

4. Know exactly when to harvest

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is going in for the kill too soon. Strike too early and chances of conversation can take a nosedive. Be patient, take time to nurture your prospects, take every opportunity to tailor your communications with targeted content and personalised emails and work tightly with your marketing team who may well have plenty of valuable lead scoring information for you on a prospect’s current level of engagement that can highlight the best time to pop the question. Don’t rush the prospect – take time to build a relationship and position yourself to make the transition from being just another supplier to a trusted supplier. And don’t pester. In one McKinsey & Company survey, 35% of U.S. and European customers deemed being contacted too often in person, by email or by phone as the “most destructive” aspect of a business relationship, while a small percentage highlighted not being called often enough as a problem. As the McKinsey piece stated “Striking the right balance between contacting customers too much and too little requires understanding their stated and actual needs.”

5. Find pain & sell to need

A major contributory factor to poor meeting-to-sale conversion is the sale person rushing to get a deal concluded before fully understanding what makes a prospect tick and how they can genuinely make a difference to them. Take your time and do your research so that you understand needs, wants and pain points and make sure to overlay these with clearly defined product benefits. It is fair to say that every company has pain points; you just need to figure them out. Is it competition? cash flow? staffing? Find the ones you’re able to solve, and make sure to push those buttons. If you can relieve a pain and deliver a knockout ROI proposition, you’ll be well on the way to conversion.

So like the successful farmer, it is clear the best sales rep can secure a bountiful harvest just so long as they sweat the detail and avoid the temptation to cut cultivation corners.

Matt Skinner: Managing Director, IRD