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Accelerating B2B Sales Processes with Instant Messaging

In the realm of B2B transactions, time is of the essence. There are instances where potential buyers urgently seek solutions, like needing a conference banner for Munich next month. Alternatively, they might be in the market for a new software provider as their current contract approaches its end in six months.

Leads come to companies through various channels. Digital marketing and online ads now generate more traffic than ever before. Word-of-mouth referrals also play a pivotal role, alongside the effectiveness of PR efforts. Regardless of how a potential buyer discovers your business, this is the moment to proactively engage with them.

The Short Life of Online Sales Leads | Source

What poses a challenge in B2B Sales? Often, it’s the pace. Shockingly, almost half of inbound leads receive no response, or only hear back from a sales team after a whole day. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, merely 37% of companies respond to leads within an hour. In contrast, 24% take over 24 hours, and 23% don’t respond at all.

Surprisingly, nearly 50% of inbound leads receive no response or only get a reply from a sales team after 24 hours. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, merely 37% of companies respond to leads within an hour. In contrast, 24% take over 24 hours, and 23% don’t respond at all.

Can messaging apps provide a solution to these issues? As always, it depends. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of B2B sales in the following sections.

What Constitutes B2B Sales?

The B2B Market is Double The Size of B2C | Source

For those new to the sales arena or who’ve primarily dealt with consumers, B2B sales and its corresponding cycle might seem a tad overwhelming or perplexing. No need to fret—it’s straightforward. What is B2B Sales? It simply denotes business-to-business sales, hence B2B. This pertains to a business primarily or exclusively offering its products or services, ranging from software to shoelaces, to other businesses.

The B2B market is more than double the size of the B2C market. This holds significant implications for the B2B Sales Process, as B2B transactions operate at a different tempo than B2C.

B2B sales form a colossal market. In the U.S. alone, Gartner estimates this market is valued at $9 trillion. Within that, around $1.1 trillion is conducted online (B2B e-commerce)—a market twice the size of consumer (B2C) e-commerce, which stood at roughly $512 billion in 2018, according to estimates.

The B2B Sales Arena

Companies primarily or exclusively engaged in B2B activities seldom interact with the general public, also known as consumers. When businesses sell to other businesses, they play a crucial role in the value creation process. A service or product is delivered, and in return, it holds value for the client that surpasses its initial cost.

Every entity and individual involved in this value creation process contributes to the overall worth of the companies they serve. In this exchange, everyone benefits in one way or another. Despite the process-driven and value-centric nature of B2B sales, it ultimately hinges on the relationships among the people involved—the buyers and sellers.

This often boils down to the relationship between a salesperson or account manager and the buyer, a budget holder, or an end-user. It could also involve an influencer within the company who persuades a budget holder to approve a purchase.

Understanding the B2B Sales Process

As mentioned earlier, B2B sales revolves around human relationships. While price certainly plays a significant role in business interactions, it’s never the sole consideration. When procuring a product or service from another company, trust is paramount. Trust that the supplier will deliver as promised. In B2B sales, trust is the cornerstone. The B2B sales process is centered around establishing this trust between two or more companies and the individuals within them. This process is also referred to as the B2B sales funnel.

The sales funnel isn’t necessarily a linear progression. It hinges on when two companies commence their interaction and how one discovers or learns about the other. Typically, one company acts as the buyer, while the other takes on the role of the seller. To simplify the B2B sales funnel, we can break it down into the following stages (although the exact number of stages can vary in marketing and sales discourse):

The initial phase of the B2B Sales Cycle is awareness. At the outset of the B2B sales funnel, companies seek out sales leads through various means, including lead generation (or demand generation), inbound marketing, and advertising (or a combination of all three). 

Awareness: At the commencement of the B2B sales funnel, companies embark on prospecting for sales leads through various methods, including lead generation (also known as demand generation), inbound marketing, and advertising (or all three combined).

The second phase of the B2B Sales Cycle is consideration. This pivotal midpoint in the B2B sales funnel sees potential clients gathering more information. They may be in direct contact about a product or service they wish to explore further, or they might be using a company’s website and other resources to delve deeper. 

Consideration: This pivotal midpoint in the B2B sales funnel sees potential clients gathering more information. They may be in direct contact about a product or service they wish to explore further, or they might be using a company’s website and other resources to delve deeper.

The third phase of the B2B Sales Cycle is decision. In this juncture of the B2B sales funnel, direct communication is imperative, unless a sale can be completed through a website without necessitating direct interaction. 

Decision: This can be further divided into the preference and purchase phases, both before and during the actual decision to buy. In this phase of the B2B sales funnel, direct communication is imperative, unless a sale can be completed through a website without necessitating direct interaction.

The fourth phase of the B2B Sales Cycle is loyalty. Beyond the initial sale, the primary aim of nearly every B2B sales relationship is to encourage additional or recurring purchases. It’s also crucial to ensure that a new client refers other clients to the supplier. The ongoing relationships fostered in this stage of the B2B sales cycle can be nurtured in various ways, including through an account manager and marketing campaigns targeting leads or clients. 

Loyalty: Beyond the initial sale, the primary aim of nearly every B2B sales relationship is to encourage additional or recurring purchases. It’s also crucial to ensure that a new client refers other clients to the supplier. The ongoing relationships fostered in this stage of the B2B sales cycle can be nurtured in various ways, including through an account manager and marketing campaigns targeting leads or clients.

The Significance of Speed in B2B Sales

In the realm of online B2C sales, customers tend to be more transactional and readily inclined to make a purchase. This is why immense efforts are invested in ensuring e-commerce platforms attract and convert as many customers as possible. B2B sales aren’t typically approached in the same manner. Potential clients seldom rush into a purchase.

What potential clients often seek is a substantive conversation with a company they’re considering. They want to gauge past performance, competence, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Simultaneously, as a service provider, each inbound lead must be properly assessed.

Building B2B Relationships Requires Meaningful Conversations

A sales team must ascertain whether potential buyers have budgets, whether there’s an urgency to their needs, and what kind of ROI they anticipate. Both parties need to have confidence in each other before proceeding further.

How to Hasten the B2B Sales Cycle With Messaging Apps

Swifter is superior, especially when it comes to handling inbound leads. According to the HBR study, leads that were called within an hour of an inbound inquiry were “seven times more likely to have substantial conversations with decision-makers than those who waited even 60 minutes.” Here are three steps you can take to engage promptly and effectively with sales leads.

#1: Engage B2B Sales Leads via Messaging Apps

Regardless of which app or apps your business employs for conversations with B2B sales prospects (e.g., Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.), you’re bound to experience a higher level of engagement compared to email. Not only are responses faster, but engaging in phone-to-phone conversations also brings a more personal touch. Real-time responses are far more adept at directing inquiries in the right direction.

Messages Are a Popular Way to Contact B2B Sales Leads | Source

This elevates the likelihood of qualifying and converting a potential B2B sales lead. As long as the prospect is comfortable using messenger apps, it presents a modern, customer-friendly, and to many, less obtrusive way of engaging with a sales lead compared to the busy confines of email inboxes. It allows both parties to respond at their own pace, without feeling pressured or rushed, paving the way for a new business relationship to develop along more natural lines compared to one nurtured solely through inundated email correspondence.

With the right tools and integrations, you can keep tabs on every conversation, gain deeper insights into your audience, construct more precise profiles, and ensure that everything is meticulously logged in a CRM.

#2: Streamline Conversations for Heightened Productivity

At this juncture, you might be thinking that B2B sales through messaging apps come with all benefits and no drawbacks. However, that’s not entirely the case. When you’re on the selling end, prospects will anticipate quicker responses than they would via email. Furthermore, once the chat concludes, you’ll be left with a trove of unstructured data.

Thankfully, addressing these issues isn’t vastly different from managing email and phone communications. Initially, you’ll want to acquire a messaging CRM. Much like an email CRM, a messaging CRM equips you with tools to maintain a record of conversations and input contacts with attributed structured data.

Automating Onboarding Chats

One of the significant advantages of messaging lies in the bite-sized chunks of text exchanged in back-and-forth chats, which are considerably easier to automate compared to emails. An effective approach is to establish an onboarding automation at the start of the conversation. This facilitates the collection of much of the same information you would typically gather via a lead form on your website. You can inquire about the contact’s name and their affiliated company, among other details. A proficient messaging CRM will automatically archive this data for you.

Last but not least, it’s prudent to automate responses to frequently asked questions. FAQs can be a stumbling block in messaging interactions. While your mind can swiftly provide the answers, your thumbs might struggle to keep pace. Nowadays, with most messaging CRMs, you can formulate canned responses to address these queries. Some even allow for automatic deployment using AI, such as Rocketbots.

#3: Instant Online Demos When Chat is Not Enough

What if a buyer is eager for a demo right away? Enter screen sharing apps tailored for inside sales teams, with offerings like CrankWheel in the market. These tools enable you to deliver online demos to those keen on learning more about a service or solution promptly, regardless of their location or device.

In instances where you’ve been engaging with a prospect who’s eager for a demo and doesn’t want to wait, this presents an ideal solution. Simply furnish them with a link, and within moments, you can guide them through an instant online demo. Since you’ve taken the time to get to know them in a more personalized manner over messenger apps, the demo stage of the conversation flows more smoothly. Through business messenger apps, you should have already utilized the time to qualify them and demonstrate your ability to meet their needs.

Product Demos are Highly Favorable Amongst B2B Buyers | Source

Thus, utilizing an instant online demo provides an opportunity to advance the conversation and ideally propel this potential deal forward. Having the right apps in place is one of the most effective means to ensure potential leads benefit from swift responses. Furthermore, salespeople are even more effective when equipped with the right collateral. This includes demos, pitch decks, presentations, and easily adaptable sales proposals to dispatch post-call.

Establishing systems that keep you on the radar of a qualified lead is equally invaluable, such as marketing automation and email newsletters. To expedite the sales cycle, make it straightforward for leads to find you, and engage in a substantive conversation over messenger apps, until they are poised to commit and move forward. If you want to learn more, visit our website today!

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