B2B Sales Aren’t As Simple As They Seem

About a month and a half ago I started working on a new project. It’s not currenly public but it’s live and used by 10 companies to help them do better email marketing. When I first conceived of the project I was pretty excited because it was the first B2B product I had worked on, and I had heard that B2B sales were much easier than consumer sales. 

While that may be true, B2B sales definitely aren’t simple. Here are a few things that I’ve learned to keep in mind over the last month of pitching, cold-calling and cold-emailing tens of companies looking to prove the idea and sign up the first few customers.

Know who the decision makers are

Companies are extremely hierarchical and so when you’re pitching a product you need to know who the decision maker is within the company and talk to them. If you’re pitching an IT product to the head of marketing you’re not likely to get very far. This is especially true when you’re cold calling or cold emailing because the marketing guy isn’t going to forward your email to the IT guy (unless your pitch is brilliant) he’s just going to say that it doesn’t seem that useful.

Make it easy for your pitch to get the right person

If you’re doing cold emailing, oftentimes companies won’t list email addresses for specific people and departments and will instead have a catchall email address like info@company.com that they ask you to send all general inquiries to. If you’re going to email that address make sure your subject line makes it clear who should be reading the email. A subject line like:

“Would love to talk to you about a new product”

Might get read by the community manager, by the CTO or by the marketing guy. But a subject line like:

“Would love to talk about how to improve your email marketing”

Will either get read by the marketing guy or get forwarded to him.

Make the math clear

The awesome part about B2B is that unlike consumer products the value proposition is just math. If the company has to spend $10 on your product every month and will end up making $200 from it a month then it’s probably something they’re interested in. Make sure you make it clear from your pitch to your pricing how the math works and why it will work for them.

Realize that the sales cycle is a lot longer for B2B

For all of my other projects which were more consumer focused people usually said yes or no within the first couple of minutes. Not so with B2B. It can take weeks and weeks, with multiple phone calls and emails sent back and forth before you get a straight answer. And even if they say they want to buy it, it can take weeks after that before they actually enter in their credit card and integrate it. The key is to just keep closing, keep calling, and keep nudging them until eventually they either ask you to stop (in which case you should stop immediately) or they sign up.

I hope this little rundown was helpful for someone. If you want to know more about what I’m working on you should follow me on Twitter.

8 Dec 2011, 8:02pm | leave a comment


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