Modern B2B Sales Process Steps: Detailed Guide

B2B sales process: what is it ?

B2B Sales Process: Let’s decode it!

In the complex world of B2B sales, the process is everything. It keeps sales teams focused on the end goal i.e. revenue.

According to the famous thinker and economist W. Edwards Deming, “If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you don’t know what you are doing.”

This quote highlights the importance of having a solid and dependable B2B sales process.

The B2B sales process is what keeps industries connected and the big businesses rolling. 

With the latest innovations in tech, new AI tools coming every week, frequent disruptions in the supply chain, and a post-pandemic recovery of major economies, the way a typical B2B sales process used to take place has completely evolved. 

At times, it’s challenging to keep up with the latest strategies and techniques that can drive sales for your business-to-business offerings. 

The B2B sales process is complex, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Why? 

Because by the time you finish reading this article, you will be able to understand what a B2B sales process is, how it works, what tools you need, and what are the best practices you should follow while setting up a B2B sales process & much more.

( That being said, DON’T skip to the last section because we got some epic stuff throughout the article)

Too much intro to hook you into reading. Agh! I too hate these long sentences.

Let’s start with some basics.

What is the B2B sales process?

Don’t let this jargon “B2B Sales Process” fool you. 

The business-to-business, or B2B sales process is a structured way that businesses use to sell their products or services to other businesses. It involves activities that businesses perform to turn a potential customer into a paying customer. 

A typical B2B sales process starts with prospecting and ends with the deal closing. 

However, in the case of B2B software ( oh, it has got a fancy name ‘SaaS’ btw) a B2B sales process may also contain some post-sales steps such as nurturing sales-qualified leads & building relationships with prospects.

Why is the B2B sales process important?

The B2B sales process is important for businesses that sell products or services to other businesses. This process structures the sales reps’ approach to identifying, qualifying, and nurturing leads, ultimately converting them into subscribers or paying customers. 

Here are the top 5 reasons why having an optimized B2B sales process is a win-win for the sales teams as well as for the company.

  1. Increased sales revenue

A well-defined sales process helps sales reps identify, qualify, nurture, and close leads more effectively. It helps them build a flowing sales pipeline. In the long run, it helps B2B business increase their sales revenue.

  1. Reduced Sales Cycles 

According to Hubspot, an average B2B sales cycle goes up to 102 days.

A well-optimized & streamlined B2B sales process helps sales reps reduce sales cycles by identifying qualified leads, streamlining & personalizing communication, providing proactive customer engagement, etc. It helps in closing deals faster & realizing sales revenue for business.

  1. Increased Sales Reps’ Productivity

Having a definite B2B sales process gives sales reps a well-defined roadmap to follow. Sales reps can focus on prioritization of high-value activities, by following the B2B sales process guidelines, reducing the risk of errors & inconsistencies. This helps them understand their overall KPIs, and become more productive & efficient.

  1. Sales Pipeline Visibility

Having a clear B2B sales process helps managers understand what’s working and what’s not. This comes in handy when it comes to tracking sales deals progression & identifying bottlenecks in the sales process. Also, they can make data-driven decisions from the data received from the sales pipeline.

  1. Coaching Opportunities

Businesses having a well-structured B2B sales process help newly joined sales reps catch up with their weekly/monthly sales quotas. Also, they get training opportunities to enhance their sales skills further.

The B2B sales process flowchart

The B2B sales process flowchart is a powerful tool that helps businesses draw a holistic picture of their sales process. It consists of situations based on Yes/No scenarios for sales teams to navigate through the prospective decision-making process.

Essentially, It helps sales reps visualize their B2B sales process and track the progress of their sales deals. 

Additionally, a well-chalked flowchart helps businesses streamline their B2B sales process and implement their sales strategies further. For creating such a flowchart, companies may use an online flowchart maker. It’s easy to use and can effectively help in designing the B2B sales process tailored to their specific needs.  

B2B sales process flowchart, powered by SmartReach

Five typical stages of a B2B sales process

A B2B sales process is crucial for businesses, providing a roadmap for effectively managing complex sales cycles, achieving revenue goals, and building strong customer relationships.

Every B2B sales process typically requires these five B2B sales process steps processes to meet sales revenue. 

[Please note that businesses can have anywhere between 5 to 8 steps (depending on the industry & nature of business), but these 5 are the most common ones.]

five stages of a B2B sales process

Prospecting

Prospecting is the first of the B2B sales process steps. This includes identifying potential customers for offering your service/product. Sales reps find potential customers based on industries, job positions, revenue range of companies, etc. 

In this stage, sales reps generate leads using several different methods, such as cold calling, email outreach, network events, etc. Tools like Zoominfo, ProspectDaddy & Apollo.io can help you generate such leads. 

The goal here is to create a list of qualified leads that your sales team can reach out to.

Qualifying prospects

Once you have a list of potential customers, it’s time to qualify them. 

How do you do that?

You do that by asking them the right set of questions to understand their business needs, challenges in their business, etc. 

Also, make sure you are asking these questions to the right person in the business. In the cases of most start-ups or SMEs, the decision makers of business are generally the founders & co-founders. If it’s a mid-market company (having annual revenue of 10 million to 1 billion) the decision makers will be the head of the verticals (e.g., CMO, CFO, CSO, etc.). 

This step ensures that you only focus on the right people and avoid wasting time on the wrong people for sale.

Assessing needs & providing solutions

After you have qualified the prospects, it’s time to meet them either in person or virtually (e.g., zoom call, Google Meet) to understand their exact business needs. 

This is the B2B sales process step where you find out their challenges and present solutions based on these challenges. 

Make sure that the solution you provide offers to solve the problem the prospects face. This is a make-or-break moment as the prospect decides to move forward with your offer or reject it.

Handling objections

During a B2B sales process, prospects will definitely have objections and questions about your product/service. Prepare yourself to handle such objections, concerns, etc, and address them professionally. Become a good listener, acknowledge their concerns, and present them with the solution like a consultant.  

Don’t know where to start preparing for objection handling?

Read: The Top 5 B2B Sales Objections and How to Overcome Them

Closing the deal

This is the final step in the B2B sales process.

This is where the prospect finally buys your product or service. Get ready to negotiate the offer terms, answer any questions they may have, and guide them through the purchase process.

Closing a sales deal is the ultimate test of an SDR as it finally pays off the SDR’s work.

Confused about how to proceed with closing the deal? 

Read: Sales 101: Mastering The Techniques of Closing Sales

B2B sales process tools

According to a LinkedIn sales report, 76% of B2B sales reps agree that sales technology is “critical” or “extremely important” in closing sales deals. Using sales tools makes the life of sales reps easier and the sales cycle shorter. 

Here’s a list of tools you can use at each touchpoint to supercharge the B2B sales process of your business: 

🔸 Prospecting

In the prospecting stage of a B2B sales process, it’s all about finding the right set of potential customers for your product or service. To save time and effort, you may use the following tools:

  • Social Selling Tools that allow businesses to find and connect with potential customers on social media channels such as Linkedin, etc.

Examples: LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zoominfo Reachout, etc. 

  • Email Finder & Verification Tools that help sales reps find and verify the mail addresses of potential customers. 

Example: Clearbit, Hunter.io, Lusha, ZeroBounce,  etc.

  • Business Intelligence Tools that provide contact information for potential customers.

Example: Cognism, D&B Hoovers, Crunchbase, etc.

  • Website Technology Lookup Tools that allow sales reps to gather information about the technologies used on the websites of the prospects.

Example: BuiltWith, Wappalyzer, etc

🔸 Qualifying Prospects

In the prospect qualification stage of the B2B sales process, you may use the following tools to streamline communication with the prospects:

  • Customer Relationship Management(CRM) Tools that allow businesses to track their communications with prospects. They also help in lead qualification, sales pipeline management, and sales forecasting. 

Examples include Salesforce CRM, Pipedrive CRM, HubSpot CRM, etc.

🔸 Prospect Outreach

For reaching out to the prospects using multiple touchpoints and minimum cost, use the following tools: 

  • Sales Engagement Platforms that help sales reps automate their prospect outreach using multiple channels such as email, calling, LinkedIn messages, and texts. 

Examples include SmartReach, Salesloft, Lemlist, Outreach.io etc

  • Cold Email Outreach Platforms that help you automate cold email outreach campaigns.

Examples: SmartReach Cold Email Software, Saleshandy, Woodpecker.co etc.

  • Email Warmup Tools help you build an email sender reputation for cold email outreach campaigns.

Example: WarmupHero, Warmy, etc.

🔸 Assessing needs & providing solutions

Use the following tools in this step of the B2B sales process, to organize sales reps’ activities: 

  • Response Management Tools that help the sales team manage and track their responses to customer inquiries.

Example: SmartReach Shared Inbox, Front, Hiver,  etc.

  • Document-sharing Tools that allow businesses to securely share proposals, presentations, and other documents with prospects.

Example: DocSend, DocuSign, etc.

  • Document Automation Tools that help businesses automate the creation of business proposals, contracts, and other documents. 

Example: PandaDoc, HotDocs, etc.

  • E-Signature Tools that allow businesses to collect electronic document signatures from potential customers.

Examples: Signwell, Adobe Acrobat Sign etc.

🔸 Handling objections and closing the deal

For handling objections and closing the deal, use the following tools: 

  •  Revenue Intelligence Tools that record and analyze sales calls to help businesses identify and address common objections.

Examples: Gong, Revenue.io, etc.

  • CRM Tools that provide features for managing deals and closing opportunities.

Examples: Close.io, Zendesk Sell, etc.

  • Sales Enablement Platforms help businesses train their sales teams on how to handle objections and close deals.

Examples include Highspot, Ambition, Seismic, etc.

Best practices to set up your B2B sales process

So, you are now aware of what a B2B sales process is. Let’s explore 5 tips that can help you master the sales process in B2B environments. 

Understand your ICP

B2B sales is solution-driven. Gone are the days, when sales reps used to push product/service on prospects. To make the sales process effective focus on understanding your target customers. Try to understand their pain points, their challenges, and goals. It would help you tailor your sales approach and save you a lot of time by not pitching the wrong person.

Outline a step-by-step process

Outline a step-by-step process that guides your team from prospecting to closing deals. Clearly define stages, key actions, and criteria for advancing leads for the sales team. 

Build Relationships

B2B sales is relationship-driven. It’s almost a necessity to build a strong, lasting relationship with the prospects. It helps you build trust and credibility with the prospects which is critical in B2B sales. 

In fact, According to a LinkedIn study, 76% of B2B buyers said that their decision to purchase from a vendor was based on the trust and credibility of the salesperson.  

Apart from trust, building relationships with prospects helps you develop customer loyalty post-purchase. According to a study by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%.  

Streamline B2B sales using technology

B2B sales require complex steps and various touchpoints. Some various tools & software can revolutionize this process by making it more efficient, effective, and automated. They will help the sales team in multiple sales-related activities such as outreach, reporting, automating, etc. These tools centralize customer data, track interactions, and streamline communication for better organization. Check out the section ‘Tools for B2B sales process’ of the blog for more details.

Align Sales & Marketing Initiatives

The B2B sales process depends greatly on lead generation. To generate leads using outbound & inbound strategies, make sure your business has aligned goals for marketing & sales. 

Use social media for Outreach

Using platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter or X, Instagram, etc for cold outreach is extremely effective in the case of B2B sales. It’s a relatively new outreach channel in B2B sales. It helps you stand out in the eyes of the prospects. 

Use SmartReach’s LinkedIn outreach automation features to send them personalized messages, connection request messages, InMails, etc, to empower your outreach efforts. 

Monitor & Analyze Sales Metrics

Once you set up the B2B sales process in your business, it’s time to optimize it. Continuously monitor and analyze sales metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) of stakeholders involved in the sales process. Regularly review your sales process, identify bottlenecks, and optimize based on performance data.

B2b sales process (TL;DR)

Missed some of the most important points from the article? Don’t worry. We got you covered. 

Here’s your quick recap so that you don’t miss anything:

  • The B2B sales process refers to the way businesses sell their products/services to other businesses. 
  • The B2B sales process is important for increased sales revenue, shorter sales cycles, increased sales rep productivity, sales pipeline velocity & coaching opportunities. 
  • 5 typical steps for the B2B sales process are : Prospecting ➡ Qualifying prospects ➡ assessing needs & providing solutions ➡ handling objections ➡ closing the deal. 
  • Leveraging tools such as lead generation tools, sales engagement platforms, email automation tools, and CRMs can empower your sales pipeline with new opportunities.
  • Remember to focus on building relationships, align sales and marketing efforts, and monitor and analyze performance to continuously improve your B2B sales process. 

Mastering the B2B sales process can be a challenge. But with proper strategy, employing tools & software & continuous measuring of each touchpoint in the sales process, you can master the B2B sales process. Additionally, employing business intelligence services can significantly enhance this process by offering actionable insights into customer interactions and sales trends, helping to refine strategies for better alignment with market demands and customer needs.   

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Do you know about any other tools for the B2B sales process? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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