Why B2B sales teams need to get cosy with customers

Countless calls, emails and product demos…a lot of work goes into building up a quality pipeline of sales prospects. Yet despite that time and effort, lots of (seemingly) promising ones either aren’t ready to buy or choose to purchase from one of your company’s competitors. We hosted a breakfast event for sales and marketing department heads in the B2B tech industry, covering how an intimate approach can be used to manage sales pipelines and engage prospects at the right time. Bob Apollo of Inflexion Point focussed on how to segment your market and implement a structured approach to customer acquisition, and Octopus Group’s own Billy Hamilton-Stent explored the customer insight that can be gained from different research methods. Here we look at some of the key points to come out of the breakfast and the guests’ views on taking an intimate approach to customer acquisition. Salespeople as artists of intimacy The traditional idea of creating a prospecting factory is a flawed analogy, as it enforces a ‘one size fits all’ sales process that conflicts with the subtleties at the heart of individuals. A more fitting one is viewing sales professionals as “artisans not automatons”, where skilled individuals use technology and structured processes to tailor their sales proposition to suit their customers’ needs. People, not just numbers, in research While B2B research data is useful, it can create a distancing effect between sales departments and buyers. Intimate research methods, such as focus groups and one-to-one interviews, can help businesses unearth useful nuances among their audiences, which wouldn’t come to light from a cold list of numbers. Guest views on intimacy in sales Guests contributed to the discussion on intimacy in the sales process. Here are some tidbits:

  • Prospects nowadays often make decisions that are in the short-term interest, rather than the long term. B2B sales and marketing professionals need to recognise the signs and may have to align their message to fit in with a company’s plans for that year, instead of the next five.
  • Many sales pitches involve selling the idea of change, which can sometimes elicit feelings of risk and raise objections, so you need to have a deep understanding of the buyer’s hopes and fears.
  • If sales teams have an intimate understanding of their prospects’ needs, they also need to have the confidence to lose leads from their pipeline. There are two winners in every sales deal: the person who wins the deal, and the person who qualifies-out poor leads early enough, so that they can focus their time and effort on the most promising ones.

Download our Strategic Customer Acquisition Guide for more insight into finding and qualifying B2B sales leads