A Rookies Guide to B2B Selling: The First 60 Days
After six years working in the restaurant industry, I decided to hang up my apron, throw out my non-slips, and enter the exciting (and tumultuous) field of B2B sales.
With a B.S. in marketing and a career of serving, I figured I was well equipped to handle any person or situation thrown my way. Conversations came easy and I felt I had met individuals from all walks of life through both my educational and professional experiences. The (very naive) thought was, “B2C → B2B – it’s still sales…I’m just calling people, right?”
Wrong. One glaring difference I completely overlooked was the selling process in and of itself. In an industry where the customer came to you, you didn’t have to do much persuading and they still wanted your goods (and then some).
Selling to someone who very well may never have even heard of your product is a whole different entity. Not only did it require a whole new frame of mind, but a whole new language, as well.
Terms totally foreign to me were flying around the room and it seemed as though my coworkers had a dialect that I’d only be able to master with the help of some Rosetta Stone type software.
Pipelines, SaaS, cadences, and flows. SDRs, CRM’s, SEO’s oh my! I was pulling on all of my business courses (and the Google search bar) to re-familiarize myself with these concepts. The last thing I wanted to do was completely alienate myself as the new girl in my small office.
Slowly but surely it all started to click. Over the past month, I’ve developed a few insights that I’d like to share with the sales world. To you seasoned reps the following points might seem vague, but as I wrote these out I truly understood the benefits they are affording me, and the progress I’m making.
It is my hope that these tips can help out some other budding sales professionals that might just need that little nudge to catalyze their success.
1. Follow the process, but make it yours
While Outbound certainly promotes a tried and true process to render its success, I’ve noticed that a common theme between the top reps is their ability to be genuine. Of course, it’s hard to confidently exude that trait when you’re still unsure of your footing, but it has helped putting things into a perspective that I know.
Not only does it give you an anchor to tie an unfamiliar concept back to, but it provides some comfort while navigating unchartered waters. For example, I could rock a dining room in my sleep. Own a B2B software sales cold call? Not quite yet. Therefore, I found it helpful to equate some of the concepts of my former industry to this one:
Prospect = Guest
Flow = Steps of service
Pipeline = Guests coming through the door
Sales Cycle =Table turns
When you shake it down to smaller ideas like that, it becomes much easier to conceptualize, and all of the sudden dialing random strangers doesn’t seem quite so intimidating. If you’re just starting out, try and find that connection to something you know inside out, and I guarantee you’ll breathe a little easier.
A final thought on being genuine: listen to understand what your prospect is saying, not just as a means to continue a conversation. There is no way you can be truly authentic if you don’t acknowledge the specific situation of each potential client. Create that unique experience for them. Your communications may be limited to phone calls and emails, but you can still build meaningful business relationships. (Plus, authenticity = more sales and who doesn’t want that?)
2. Schedule your day
Google calendars. This application is an absolute lifeline. The first two weeks I was just flying by the seat of my pants, making notes on Post-its, rotating two different notebooks with various tasks, and at the end of the day feeling a little lost and like I had accomplished nothing.
It wasn’t until my boss asked me to explain the breakdown of my day when I realized I couldn’t give a thorough answer.
When the majority of the day is spent calling, and then following up, and then calling again, and then trying to remember to reach out to referrals, and then maybe sending more information via email to 12 different leads, it’s too easy to get lost in the madness of it all.
Throw in a couple demo’s or two and something is bound to fall by the wayside. Utilize your tools. Set yourself reminders. As soon as another task comes up, throw it on the calendar. It might get crowded, but at least you won’t forget anything.
3. Let the rejections roll off
You’re going to get no’s when you first start out. And you’re going to get them a lot. This doesn’t mean you suck at your job and it definitely doesn’t mean sales isn’t for you. It just means you haven’t found the correct way to communicate your value proposition to show prospects why they need your product.
Maybe your diction isn’t quite right or maybe your pitch doesn’t clearly outline how you can benefit your prospect. Pivot to the why, and always make sure you’re explaining the specific value that will be added to their process. And, practice, practice, practice that pitch!
Don’t be afraid to rip off your fellow sales reps lines if you think theirs might be stronger than yours. While the bullpen is a great place for competition, its simply not the right place for ego or pride.
Trust me, I realize it’s a lot easier said than done.The first few rejections frustrated me to no end, but patience is key. Allow yourself to learn the process, absorb your environment, and eventually those contracts will start to roll in. One turns to two, two turns to four, and boom you’ve got the makings of a pipeline!
The sales world is a unique, dynamic, and often a very challenging arena to build your career in. You’re going to get told off and might even feel demoralized. It’s just the nature of the job. The first few times it’s going to sting and there’s a good chance you’ll take it personally.
Here’s the upside though: with all of these hitches also comes the potential for incredible success. The key is to keep the optimism flowing. You’ll go through scenarios that might make this difficult, but your ability to bounce back and hit that next call with the same amount of unappreciated positivity will be a driving factor in making your mark in this industry.
When in doubt, just kill them with kindness. Happy selling!