i. The b2b Sales Process: An Overview
Typical sales process in B2B SaaS companies.
While the specifics of the sales process can vary depending on the company, there are some key stages that most B2B SaaS companies follow.
The first stage of the b2b sales process is prospecting (this is only valid for an outbound motion, for inbound companies go to stage 2). This involves identifying potential customers who might be interested in your product or service. In this stage, you might use a variety of strategies to reach out to potential customers, including email marketing, social media outreach, and attending industry events.
In this stage, you will evaluate whether a lead is a good fit for your product or service.
In more technical terms an MQL (marketing qualified lead) becomes an SQL (Sales qualified lead).
And for outbound prospect becomes a SQO (sales qualified lead)
This might involve asking questions about the lead's needs, budget, and timeline.
- Demo or Discovery Call
The next stage of the sales process is often a demo or discovery call. In this stage, you will have the opportunity to show the lead how your product or service works and address any questions they might have after that.
After the demo or discovery call, the next stage is often to present a proposal. This proposal will outline the specifics of what you are offering, including pricing, features, and timeline the specifics of which will be based on the conversation in between all the stages thus far.
Once you have presented your proposal, the next stage is often negotiation. This stage is where you and the lead will work to come to an agreement on the terms of the deal. This might involve negotiating on price, scope of work, or timeline.
The final stage of the sales process is the close. This is where you and the lead will come to a final agreement and the deal will be closed.
I will dive into each stage in more detail and provide tips for optimizing each stage to increase your sales success at the end of the blog.
Popular Sales Methods In B2b SaaS
A method that focuses on keeping messaging Simple, iNvaluable, Aligned, and Priority-based. Used when targeting busy decision-makers who have limited time and attention.
A qualification framework that evaluates a prospect's Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, and Champion. Used when selling to enterprise customers with long sales cycles.
BANT: (Most Popular)
A qualification framework that evaluates a prospect's Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Used when prioritizing leads and focusing sales efforts on those most likely to convert.
A question-based approach that helps salespeople understand a prospect's Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-Payoff. Used when selling complex solutions that require a deep understanding of the prospect's needs.
A method that focuses on the value that a product or service can provide to the prospect, rather than its features. Used when selling solutions that can provide significant value to the customer.
A strategic approach that focuses on targeting and engaging high-value accounts with personalized messaging and solutions. Used when targeting key accounts or verticals that have a high potential for revenue growth.
ii. Identifying Gaps in the Sales Process
The first step in improving a process is knowing where the process can be improved. To figure out where the optimizations are needed in your b2b sales process Irecommend taking the following measures.
Revenue leaders should analyze their sales metrics to gain a better understanding of where their sales process may be falling short. Here are some key metrics to examine:
This is the percentage of leads that convert to paying customers. Look for trends in conversion rates over time and compare them to industry benchmarks.
Sales cycle length:
This is the amount of time it takes to close a deal. Look for areas where the sales cycle is longer than it should be, and try to identify the causes.
This is the average size of deals closed by your sales team. Look for areas where the deal size is smaller than it should be, and try to identify the causes.
If you are in an outbound motion, the amount of pipeline generated is directly proportional to the amount of dials/ emails going out. Monitor your reps productivity to ensure it is on track.
Sales pipeline velocity is a metric that measures the speed at which leads move through your sales pipeline, from the initial contact to the close of a sale. Essentially, it measures how quickly you're able to turn potential customers into paying customers.
Formula for sales pipeline velocity:
(Sales Opportunities x Average Deal Value x Win Rate) / Length of Sales Cycle
Sales Opportunities = the number of qualified leads that enter your sales pipeline within a given time frame.
Average Deal Value = the average revenue generated from a closed deal.
Win Rate = the percentage of sales opportunities that turn into closed deals.
Length of Sales Cycle = the average length of time it takes for a lead to move through your sales pipeline from initial contact to closed deal.
By analysing these metrics, you can identify areas where your sales process may be falling short and make the necessary changes to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Gathering Feedback from the Sales Team:
The sales team is on the front line of the sales process and has first-hand experience with its strengths and weaknesses.
Revenue leaders should regularly gather feedback from the sales team to understand their pain points, what's working well, and what needs improvement.
Talking to Customers:
By asking for feedback on the sales process and the customer experience, revenue leaders can identify areas for improvement and make changes to make the sales process more customer centric and efficient at the same time.
Conducting Win/Loss Analysis:
Win/loss analysis involves examining the deals that the sales team won and lost. By analyzing the factors that contributed to the wins and losses, revenue leaders can identify areas where the sales process can be improved.
Here's how to conduct a win/loss analysis:
- Gather data:
Collect data on the deals that your sales team won and lost, including information on the customer, the sales process, and the outcome.
This data will come from multiple sources like your CRM , Sales intelligence tools , Customer calls , chatbot conversations etc.
- Analyze the data:
Look for trends and patterns in the data. Ask questions like:
Which lead sources convert the most? Content? Ads? Digital?
What were the common themes in the deals that were lost?
Were there any recurring objections that the sales team couldn't overcome?
Were there any common themes in the deals that were won?
Was a particular feature asked for that we don’t have?
- Identify areas for improvement:
Based on the analysis, identify areas where your sales process can be improved. For example, if you find that the sales team is struggling to overcome a certain objection, you may need to provide additional training on objection handling.
Benchmarking Against Competitors + Industry:
While this is not a personal favourite, it is always handy to know what your competitor is doing to get a sense of things.
Put yourself in your competitors' funnel and go through their sales process to pick up insights and ideas on what is good or bad about your process.
Also study benchmarks and reports published by management consultants they provide a good sense of industry standards and benchmarks.
Shadowing Sales Calls:
Spend time shadowing your sales team as they make sales calls. This will give you a firsthand view of the sales process and allow you to identify areas where your team may be struggling.
iii. Common gaps that can occur in B2B SaaS sales processes
Lack of Personalization:
One-size-fits-all sales pitches and generic messaging can turn potential customers off. Instead, sales teams should tailor their messaging to the specific needs and pain points of each prospect.
Ineffective Lead Qualification:
If sales teams are not properly qualifying leads, they may be wasting time on prospects that are not a good fit for the product or service. To avoid this, sales teams should have a clear set of qualification criteria and make sure they are effectively qualifying leads.
Poor Sales Pipeline Management:
A disorganized sales pipeline can lead to missed opportunities and lost revenue. Sales teams should have a clear process for managing their pipeline and ensuring that prospects are moving through it efficiently.
Failure to follow up with prospects in a timely manner can cause them to lose interest or choose a competitor. Sales teams should have a clear follow-up process and make sure they are responding to prospects in a timely manner.
Lack of Product Knowledge:
Sales teams that lack a deep understanding of their product or service can struggle to effectively communicate its value to prospects. Sales teams should have a comprehensive understanding of the product or service and be able to communicate its value proposition clearly and effectively.
Lack of Sales Enablement:
Sales enablement refers to the tools and resources that support the sales process, such as training, coaching, and technology. Failing to provide sales teams with the necessary enablement can result in a lack of confidence, poor performance, and lost opportunities. Sales leaders need to ensure that their teams have the tools and resources they need to succeed.
Lack of Post-Sale Support:
The sales process doesn't end when the deal is closed. Customers expect ongoing support, and failing to provide it can result in churn and lost revenue.
Weak Sales Messaging:
Your sales messaging needs to resonate with your target audience and clearly communicate the value of your product or service. Failing to develop a compelling sales message can result in lost opportunities.
Poor Sales Collateral:
Sales collateral includes any materials that support the sales process, such as brochures, case studies, and white papers. Poor sales collateral can make it difficult to communicate the value of the product or service and can result in lost opportunities. Sales teams need to have high-quality, relevant, and engaging sales collateral to support their efforts and close deals effectively.
iv. Optimizing your sales process
What are you expecting in this section?
A magic pill that solves all your sales problems?
Sorry I don’t have that.
If you read through section (ii) and (iii) you will have all the information you need to audit your existing sales process and know what problems to look for. From there it is up to you on how you solve them.
You can also use this information to build a new sales process from the ground up.
But since you made it to the end, here are a few tips on optimizing each stage of you sales process:
Prospecting is all about finding the right people for your product, not just customers. To improve this stage, try these steps:
Test new channels and personas:
Don't rely on just one method of outreach. Try events, Intent data, communities, social media etc.
Also try multiple personas. Maybe your product resonates more with a Chief revenue officer than a Head of sales, have you tested?
Personalize your outreach:
Make sure your messages are tailored to the recipient. Use their name and reference any relevant information you have about their company or needs.
Use a scoring system:
Assign points based on factors like company size, budget, and pain points to quickly determine whether a prospect is worth pursuing.
Ask the right questions:
Use open-ended questions to get a sense of a prospect's needs and goals. This will help you determine whether your product is a good fit.
Set clear expectations:
Let prospects know what they can expect from your product and the sales process. This will help avoid misunderstandings later on.
The demo is your chance to show prospects how your product works and how it can help them. To improve this stage:
Customize the demo:
Use information you've gathered about the prospect to tailor your demo to their specific needs.
Focus on benefits, not features: Instead of just listing features, explain how each one can help solve the prospect's pain points.
Ask for feedback:
After the demo, ask the prospect for their thoughts and any questions they may have.
The proposal outlines the specifics of your offering, including pricing and contract terms. To optimize this stage:
Be clear and concise:
Make sure your proposal is easy to read and understand.
Address objections: Anticipate any objections the prospect may have and address them in the proposal.
Offer different pricing and contract options to give the prospect flexibility.
To optimize this stage:
Understand the prospect's concerns and work to find a mutually beneficial solution.
Consider offering concessions or compromises to reach a deal.
Know your product's value and be prepared to defend your pricing and terms.
To optimize this stage:
Follow up promptly:
Respond to any final questions or concerns quickly to keep the momentum going.
Celebrate the win:
Let the prospect know you're excited to work with them and appreciate their business.
Set expectations for onboarding:
Outline what the customer can expect during the onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition.
PS if you need to read about cold calling or telemarketing for your business we recommend checking out the link in here sales calls