The B2B tech sales strategies we got used to don’t work anymore
B2B technology sales has always been competitive, but it’s gotten incredibly hard recently.
For the last 10 or 15 years, the predictable revenue model was a reliable playbook for B2B technology sales.
The idea (grossly simplified) was that you generated a ton of content and your leads found it on Google search. You called them inbound leads.
You also hired a dozen SDRs (Sales Development Representatives) or BDRs (Business Development Representatives) to cold-call and email and message your prospects.
Marketing would generate leads.
SDRs would set meetings for the sales executives.
Sales executives would close the deals.
The trouble is, these sales strategies aren’t working as well as it used to.
Even the people who invented these sales strategies agree this isn’t working anymore.
Marketing teams have generated so much content that it’s hard to be noticed in the noise. There’s no end in sight either as every company and a lot of their individual employees keep cranking out more videos and blog posts and podcasts and LinkedIn carousels every day.
SDRs have sent so many cold emails and made so many cold calls that the default move is to ignore all calls and unsolicited emails.
This leaves your account executives wondering how they’ll hit their quota.
What are the sales strategies and tactics that can get us back to success?
Three things haven’t changed.
Defining your target audience
You still have to have intimate knowledge of your ideal customers, what they need, what frustrates them, what their options are, and why you can help them in a way nobody else can.
Crafting compelling messages
You still have to get them to notice and act on your clear value proposition. This is a bigger exercise. It starts with understanding the customer.
Remember that what your customers tell you at renewal time, or at purchase time, or when your stuff is broken is couched in their political or business needs as they relate to you. These may not be what they really need. They’re just what they need from you in the current transaction.
Converting your pipelines
You still have to keep their attention long enough to guide them to becoming a happy customer. This has become extremely difficult. During longer sales cycles involving larger purchase teams, it is a tall order to somehow compel everyone involved to keep your solution as a priority throughout the sales & purchase process.
Use peer conversations to cut through the noise, re-engage, and close deals
One of the sales strategies that is still performing well is peer conversations. Use a properly executive Executive Roundtable to get leads’ attention, re-engage them in conversation, and guide them to becoming a customer.
It works for two reasons:
- Customers are still interested in what their peers have to say, even when they’re tuning vendors like you out.
- Hardly anybody else is doing it. Some people are. But relative to other sales strategies and marketing strategies, this is an underused gem.
You can do all kinds of B2B customer research where your ideal customers tell you what they want. Or at least they tell you what they want you to think they want.
But only at an executive roundtable will they tell their peers what they actually want.
If you run an Executive Roundtable the right way, they’ll almost forget you’re there and enter into a surprisingly candid peer conversation.
It’s a simple process I’ve outlined on a lot of posts here, but if you’d like an ebook that goes into it in much more detail, please download my Executive Roundtable Essential Guide.
FAQs about Sales Strategies
What are the basic sales strategies?
Apparently this is in fact a frequently asked question. The question itself doesn’t even make sense to me. You can have as many sales strategies as you’d like. Here’s a Hubspot article about 22 sales strategies.
It seems to me the first step would be to ask “What are we ignoring about our customer?” Or “What assumptions do we have about our customer that we could test?”
Because getting really clear on what your leads and customers want and how they behave can then make it possible for you to pick a strategy.
Which could be feature based. “We’ll have features nobody else has”.
Or experience based. “We’ll be the easiest company to do business with.”
Or yes, even price based . “We’ll be the most expensive. And we’ll be worth it.”
Starting with a strategy then looking for a customer segment to fit it sounds backwards to me.
What are outbound sales strategies?
An outbound sales strategy is usually defined as anything where the sales team goes out to find business. It could be that you’re finding leads by calling them, emailing them, knocking on their doors. Any sales strategy that involves not waiting around for them to find you could be considered an outbound sales strategy. Again, I ask if this is even a strategy. If it’s not based on a customer insight, it’s more of a process based on what’s convenient for you.
What are inbound sales strategies?
Think of these as the inverse of outbound strategies. Think of the inbound marketing model that was all the rage during the 2010s. You write blog posts about certain topics, people who care about those topics search for them on Google, they see your posts and they sign up for your newsletter to learn more. That sort of thing.
By they way, this has fallen out of favour as these channels have become saturated. There’s just way too much content being produced so getting noticed is incredibly hard.
This is why I advocate for using Executive Roundtables and other customer-focused resources that your customers really want, and that other vendors are not offering. Not yet anyway.
What are nearbound sales strategies?
It was inevitable that once people started seeing diminishing returns from outbound and inbound some clever marketer would notice the naming trend for different types of sales strategies and make a leap to nearbound.
This is basically referral marketing. Or word of mouth marketing. It’s people you already have a relationship with helping you find your next customer. But it’s dressed up in new names and processes.
It can be effective. I’m not disparaging it. I’m just not sure we needed another marketing term.
What’s next? Abovebound sales? Aroundbound sales? You can go on forever just adding a preposition + “bound” and calling it the next new thing.
What is the most effective sales strategy?
The most effective sales strategies are the ones that get your customers. There’s no one-size fits all here. You’ll want different sales strategies for different customers. Don’t go looking for a list of top sales strategies. Instead, look for ways to offer your customers interactions that they really want and that other vendors aren’t offering them