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Why B2B Sales is Really B2B2C: A Two Phase Sales Process

“Sell a man a product, and you’ve made a sale.  Teach a man how to sell your product to his customer and you have a business partner.”-TSW 

Man Holding Childs Hand

In my industry, which is the medical field, I often come across clients who have purchased products that they simply do not use (not mine of course!).  When I ask them about it, I get responses ranging from “Oh, I forgot about that!” to “Yeah, that machine cost me $100,000 and I can’t figure out how to use it.”

What a terrible position to be in!

So, how did they get there?

Surely, they must have thought that those products were wonderful at the time of purchase so what happened afterwards?

The problem is that all too often in Business to Business (B2B) sales, a representative sells a product or service to a business and then they move on to the next customer.  Sure, the representative has done his or her job of completing the B2B transaction, but just that alone.  When the rep stops here, they have ended the sales process prematurely.   You might argue, “But they made the sale?” And yes, you are correct, but only that.

By leaving the business to fend for themselves to figure out how to complete the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) sale and if that business does not have the knowledge and tools they require to sell that product to the consumer, the representative has failed.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Well that’s not my problem! I have a quota to make and I don’t get paid to be a hand holder”.  Well actually you do, or rather you should. At absolute minimum, offer your assistance post-sale, otherwise you might as well be selling snake oil.

If you want continued business and a good reputation, you’d better be sure that your client is capable of relaying the features and benefits of your product or service to their customer.  Otherwise, that fancy piece of equipment or innovative new product will simply just sit on their shelf collecting dust and one day you’ll receive a phone call from them inquiring about your return policy.

Of course, not all clients are created equal and certainly not all of them require hand holding.  However, when you are making the sale, keep in mind that after the sale you should always do some sort of follow up, the degree of which will vary depending on your client.  For this reason, I believe that making a business to business sale, is a two phase process as follows:

Phase 1: B2B Sale

“Sell a Man a Product and You Have a Sale.”

This is the traditional sales process as everyone knows it.  Prospect, qualify, ask for the order and close the deal.  I will not elaborate on this phase in this article.

Phase 2: Imparting the Knowledge for the B2C Sale

“Teach a Man How to Sell Your Product to His Customer and You Have a Business Partner.”

After you make the sale, both you and your client are excited; You about making the sale and your client about receiving that fabulous new product.

You, the sales rep mistakenly assumes that your client remembers your entire sales pitch and is just as eager and capable as you to impart this knowledge onto their customer.

Before you get too carried away with excitement, consider the following:

  • Your client is a business owner or decision maker, not a sales representative
  • Time may elapse between when the sale is made and when the customer receives their product. It’s only human nature to forget. After all, we aren’t all information sponges!
  • The reasons WHY your client bought the product- Did they have an existing need or did you create a need for them? Will that “need” dissipate after you walk out the door?

What should you do to avoid buyer’s remorse?

Two words: FOLLOW UP!

  1. At the Time of the Sale: Even though you should know the answer, ASK your client how they plan on selling your product to their customer or rather how they will incorporate your product into their business model. This will give you an opportunity to listen to their version of your sales pitch.  What did they pick up on? What was most important to them? What did they forget?  Make sure to fill in all the gaps before you walk out that door and ensure that they know how to get in touch with you or your company’s customer service department should they require further assistance.
  1. When the Order is Received: Whether you personally deliver the product or if it was delivered by a courier, touch base with your client to ensure that the product was received in proper condition and ask them if they have any questions. If the product is complicated, they and their staff may require training not only on the use of the product itself, but also what they should say to their customer when recommending the product.
  1. Two to Four Weeks Post Delivery: Touch base with your client. I would recommend a follow up visit to make sure that your client has all of the information and tools they require. Some team members may need additional assistance or training. Or perhaps they may have lost or gained a key staff member who requires training.  Your client may  also have many additional questions about the product as they use it or simply need a refresher.  If all is going well, they might even be in a position to reorder or want to discuss what other products you might happen to have in your portfolio which is all the more reason for you to be there.
  1. Regular Visit: Back to the Sales Cycle: If you customer was pleased with their buying process, they will want to see you again and continue to do business with you.  They may even want to act as a referral!

If you want to maintain a successful career in sales, you never want to make your customer feel sold and abandoned.  It is your job as a sales rep not only to sell your product but to work with your customer in a mutually beneficial working relationship where both of you grow your business together.

Never forget to follow up!

Happy Sales!

TSW

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