Selling your B2B outsource solution – the online sales meeting
The arrival of Covid-19 has turned the B2B sales world somewhat upside down. Maintaining contact with your clients and providers has moved online, international visits haven’t gone ahead, and at times it feels like the B2B channel is now almost entirely virtual.
3PLs, 4PLs, supply chain providers and brands alike are finding the process of acquiring a new partner, and closing an outsource deal, a new kind of challenge. Not being able to engage in in-person visits to each other’s premises, not experiencing the walk-through of a warehouse or distribution centre, reduces the opportunity for organic relationship building.
Interestingly, however, a recent McKinsey insights post identified that only about 20% of B2B buyers have said that they hope to return to in-person sales. This is also the case in more regulated sectors such as pharma and medical products. Go-to-market sales models have also reduced by 55% from traditional to online. The March 2021 Gartner Strategic Virtual Selling Framework reports that 73.8% of CSOs are executing or have already executed updated seller competency profiles for virtual selling, with 26.2% considering doing the same.
The indicators are pointing to the B2B channel gearing up to continue in an online world….
Some learnings from the last 2 years, as inputs to a successful online sell;
1. Prospective clients need to trust that you can manage their business.
Any potential client should learn that you will give their business the care and attention they would otherwise give themselves.
Whilst not always easy online, look for ideas to sell your organisation and capabilities in a virtual manner. Can you arrange for a virtual tour of your facility, showing all of the relevant functions and operations? Can you provide a video, which represents how functions or processes are carried out? Perhaps you have images representing a similar product type or business, which will give your potential client a positive feeling that you understand their needs? Is interactive content relevant or appropriate for your business, and if so, can it be demonstrated or included?
All these things are worth considering in bringing your business to life, and the opportunity for your prospect, in a virtual meeting.
2. Who does the selling?
Whilst the sales person might lead the charge, going on-line means that your prospective clients gauge what it’s like doing business with your company through those individuals with whom they meet. A prospect’s decision to work with you is naturally influenced by the people representing your business, on that sales call.
Every brand wants to hear from the subject matter experts. They want to hear the reality of what you can do for their business. In other words, the brand recognises the importance of the sales function, but also wants to hear from the operational people. They want to hear from the experts in their field, the people who are going to solve the day to day problems. It is important for a brand to speak with the person or people who will be supporting the growth of their business, and the success of their distribution channel to their end customers.
What should your sales presentation contain?
a. Mention all the key topics raised in the tender, if relevant. Be sure to address the potential key elements, bearing in mind the product and industry nuances.
b. Keep it short and to the point. Drawing out the presentation unnecessarily will only lose your audience. They want to hear how you will manage the specifics of their business – not simply every little detail of your sales pitch.
c. Bring your subject matter experts into the discussion for the relevant areas. Nothing loses a potentially interested client like a rambling description of a process, or solution to a problem.
d. Engage with the prospective client. The B2B sales process would always have engaged the relevant functions within the client organisation, so why should it be different when engaging on-line? It can be even more important online, because the opportunity is not there for organic observation of the operation or service being sold.
Things to be aware of for your online presentation;
4. Know your audience
Know the industry within which your prospect is operating. Identify any key challenges that may exist in the industry, or for their product type, as these may well influence their decision making process.
Who is attending the virtual meeting? Are they the operational owners? Has the brand outsourced before? Do they wish to learn how you can manage their operational needs? Depending on the stakeholders, you should consider the appropriate areas for discussion. Perhaps offer to share more relevant information, or arrange a subsequent call, to deal with specific areas of interest, or particular challenges relating to their business.
5. Remember you’re on camera!
We have all been getting used to this virtual world for some time now. However, in a B2B sales presentation call, if you are on camera and someone else is doing much of the speaking, remember you can still be seen or heard! Everyone is looking at their screen, so there’s no escaping your audience. Stretching, yawning, or generally being distracted, shows a lack of engagement with a prospect. Nothing says we don’t really care if we work with you, more than looking distracted!
6. Know your subject matter
Encourage questions from your prospect. Interactive meetings create a much better impression than your prospect feeling like they’re being talked at. Be cognisant that with interaction and questions comes the need to ensure that the person responding knows the subject matter. Having the CFO, for example, responding to questions regarding artwork and packaging material options, makes as much sense as having the CIO or Engineering respond to the financial specifics or the project implementation timeline queries.
Remember that you don’t always need everyone represented in the call. You can always take a question away for a subject matter expert to respond. However, you do need to ensure that you have the right people, at the right level of the organisation, which can speak on behalf of your company, whilst giving the right level of detail on how you will manage your prospect’s business.
None of this is very new. We are all aware of the rules for selling, for engaging with prospects, for making people feel like you are genuinely interested and capable of managing their business. However, the impressions of your company, the ‘face of your organisation’ are important elements and in an online environment, we can often lose that opportunity with an ill-thought out approach.
If you are having challenges in this area which you wish to discuss, we would love to hear from you!
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