SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 12 October 2018
Top 5 Skills Needed to Succeed in B2B Sales
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Britta Greenhalgh
Marketing Assistant

B2B sales, also known as business-to-business sales, is when companies or salespeople sell products/services to other businesses, rather than to customers. B2B sales is a tough field to be in – especially for an unskilled salesperson. You need more than just a resume to be successful in this field, there are so many things you should know about B2B

Before starting a career in B2B sales it’s important to brush up on some necessary skills required to succeed; but what are they?

That’s where we come in. In this post, we’ve gathered a list of the skills and strategies you need to focus on before starting a career in sales. These skills will help you succeed and go farther in your career than you’ve ever gone before. 

Without further ado, here are the top 5 necessary skills you need to succeed in B2B sales: 

1. Selling and Communication Skills

Selling and communication? That sounds easy enough, right? This skill may seem simple to master, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. B2B salespeople should be able to master the perfect sales pitch, the right voice tones and the correct body language to use. 

Unfortunately, these skills do not come easily to everyone. The truth is, it may take some people a while to master the right communication skills to make a successful sale. According to Nicolina, Marketing manager at Wily Global,  

“B2B salespeople can improve their communication skills through consistent practice. By having test calls with your co-worker, going over common objections/excuses, and having your responses ready can help build your communication skills and confidence. The less practice you have communicating, the harder it is."

Nicolina says that this process is definitely uncomfortable, and you'll slip up or get embarrassed, but you have to learn to let those anxieties go. After a while your speech, language, and ability to formulate solutions sound more natural and less “salesy”, which is usually what people want to hear.

It takes time to develop these communication skills so practice, practice, practice!

2. Negotiation Skills

Don’t ever underestimate a skilled negotiator. Negotiation is one of those skills that can take you very far in life – whether it be with salary negotiation, scheduling with management, or etc. It’s a skill that will take plenty of practice to master, in order to get the best possible deals that will appease both the seller and the buyer. 

Here are a few tips to help you improve your negotiating skills:

- Prepare thoroughly

This is one of the most important skills to master. If you are not prepared to negotiate, you may overlook sources of value and have to walk away from a sale. To prevent this from happening you may have to set aside time to do some research and homework. 

Make lists or negotiating tasks for you to complete and then role play. Create different scenarios and prepare a list of things you would do if you were in that scenario. When you get into the real scenario of negotiating, there won't be any surprises because you prepared!

- Be ready to make mistakes

No one is perfect and you will make mistakes but understand you first have to fail before you can succeed. Don’t get down on yourself when mistakes come. Get up and keep going!

- Practice

Rather than telling you how to improve your negotiating skills go and find a coach in your work environment or someone who has experience. They can give you tips, advice and will be a good mentor for you to practice with. 

Keep in mind that negotiation is a very useful skill in B2B sales because it’s important to appeal to customers in order to meet sales goals. An expert salesperson will know how to define their terms and know how to negotiate for the best possible outcome – for both the business and the customer. 

3. Active Listening Skills

As a B2B salesperson, active listening skills is one of those skills that will carry you far in your career. Active listening skills are important for good conversation and will help you maintain and build relationships with your customer, which can help you nab the most sales and deals. Show your customer that you care by taking a moment to listen.

It’s important to listen to what your consumers want. Some businesses will only want specific products/items, but you won’t know that until you stop to listen. If you don’t listen and understand what they want, you could end up losing the sale and their business. 

Jeff Arnett, CEO of Arnett Security Credentials is a business expert and owner, he summarized that B2B salespeople need  “two ears,  and one mouth”.  He goes on to say that,

“Sales people are known for their pushy, persistent pitches. Instead of initiating sales conversations with an offer,  try starting with an open-ended question, such as, “What aspects of your business could you see improving?” and follow-up by presenting possible solutions that your company can offer. 

Jeff asserts that by intently listening and responding thoroughly to the needs of the client, you position yourself as a resource rather than a salesperson.

Don’t focus on pushing your agenda and selling your product/service without considering if that’s what the consumers wanted. Doing so will only drive potential customers away. Don’t forget: listening skills is also a trait of a great leader.

4. Time Management Skills

The chance to make a sale doesn’t last long. In fact, there is often a small window of opportunity to make a sale; if lost, it can be difficult to regain. To avoid losing the chance to make a great sale, B2B salespeople should learn how to schedule timeframes and track sale times. Successful B2B salespeople should be able to figure out the best days/times to make the best sales. 

Time management skills can also help with ensuring that you’re on track with meeting sales quotas. It’s easy to get distracted, which can be extremely detrimental to your work habits and can impact sales quota. Learning to manage your time wisely will help you succeed with B2B sales in the long run.

5. Presentation and Demonstration Skills

When working in B2B sales, chances are you’ll be asked to present and demonstrate your product/service. This is when good presentation and demonstration skills will come in handy. Being able to present your product in a convincing, confident, and persuasive way is a surefire way to boost sales. 

Researching the company before presenting to them is critical. Most likely these companies you want to present to have heard several B2B salespeople give them similar pitches. Jenna Erickson,  a Marketing manager at Codal supports this sentiment saying, 

“In order to present your product in a convincing, confident and persuasive way, B2B salespeople must be results-driven with everything they do. Instead of focusing on what the product or service does and the great features of it. B2B sales people should focus on how the product will improve someone's business. What does the ROI look like? What can the customer expect from using their product?”

These are the kind of questions that you should ask yourself when researching and presenting. 

Presentation and demonstration skills don’t come easily, but with enough practice, you’ll look like an expert. Practice your speech in front of the mirror until you’re confident enough to present in front of a crowd. Ask your co-workers, family member or friends to be your audience as you present to them. Get feedback from your peers and keep practicing. You’ll be able to boost your presentation skills in no time! Once you gain the skills you need you may want to check out this article to help you boost your lead generation efforts. 

Many of these skills can be acquired through practice. Until then, fake it ‘til you make it! The key to succeeding in B2B skills is practice, persistence, and confidence. Have you decided that a career in B2B sales isn’t for you? Don’t worry; we’ve got a whole lot of other articles to help you develop skills that are required in different careers you want to learn.

Updated 10/12/2018