sales process b2b

Selling and the Sales Process in B2B: A Long Distance Run vs Sprint

For anyone who has done B2B sales for any length of time I bet the one thing they will tell you is that sales don’t materialize overnight. We work with many startups and growing companies and one of the most common challenges we find with these firms is their lack of appreciation for how long the sales process or cycle takes from target research, outbound efforts, qualification, proposing and closing. We find that many organizations are looking for quick wins and unless they are very lucky, these don’t happen. B2B sales is a methodical process that is implemented over time and is based on a series of activities that lead to results.

The process in most cases can’t be short circuited and needs to follow its course. Whether you are selling to a medium sized industrial company or a Fortune 1000 company, decisions are made over time and the sales process helps to push that along. Even before that can happen though, it can take 10 plus touches to simply get a meeting or a response from a company. Many firms make the mistake of not seeing the process through and pull the plug to early.

We often recommend our customers don’t look necessarily at revenue targets in the first 6 or 12 months but rather at activity based targets (calls, emails, meetings, proposals, etc.) as a better means of gauging success. The sales process in many cases will take 6 to 18 months to unfold depending on the cost of the product or service, whether it is an opex or capex spend, if it is group decision, does the decision maker stick around long enough to see the purchase through, etc.

A few tips I have for startups and growing companies looking to undertake a sales effort include:

  • Do a sales plan and strategy and articulate activity based goals first and revenue goals second – remember activities lead to results. Also be sure to have numbers you feel are achievable based on your conversion metrics. If you don’t have any conversion metrics because you haven’t sold much of anything as of yet then be patient and see how the calls, meetings and proposals go to generate these metrics.
  • Be prepared to invest for the long run – this is not a race, it is a marathon. You will not see huge massive results in 1 to 3 months in most cases. You will see activities leading to results over this time and hence why you need to gauge your initial successes on activities completed.
  • Be in the meetings – as the owner or GM or CEO or whatever title you have given yourself, never be above going to the meeting and participating. This is the best way, particularly for founders, to see what prospects really think and it allows you to understand the sales process better and help to objection handle and further qualify the opportunity.
  • Use a CRM – very important for tracking results and activities. Forget Excel folks, use a sales CRM and there are many – Hubspot, Nimble,, etc. This sort of infrastructure will let you methodically manage the sales process.
  • Your website – get yourself a good, solid website as it is your 24/7 sales person. Stop thinking of it as a cost and rather as an investment (being prudent of course). Have content on your website that would be of interest to your prospects, that’s optimized for SEO, and has various “Calls to Action” built in.

If you are in need of assistance from a sales and marketing perspective feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.

Selling and the Sales Process in B2B: A Long Distance Run vs Sprint