Startups whose products or services are meant to be used by businesses deal with a much different reality than startups who sell directly to consumers. Selling to businesses, for example, takes a much more personalised approach and may have a longer timeline. But for startups who do it correctly, B2B (business-to-business) selling can be quite a successful campaign.
Here’s how you can get started:
1. Identify your market – make it specific
You have already identified your market when you were building your business plans (if you haven’t then you probably did it wrong) but now is the time to be really specific. Start building your database of potential clients and categorise them based on parameters that are relevant to your product. For example, you can categorise them by industry or by company size or even by location.
Why is this important? Not only will you have a listing of potential clients you can approach, but categorising your database makes it easier to see if there is anyone you missed, as well as help you group them based on types of approach or the key strength of person who will handle it.
2. Crawl through your network
It takes a village to implement a successful B2B sales campaign. Whether you’re starting out or already have several clients, tapping into your network is always a good idea. Look at your target clients and then see if is anyone in your network who would be able to at least make introductions. That’s the reason you build your network, after all. Just make sure you have a pretty diverse one.
Why is this important? People are generally more inclined to listen to people they already know. They are also most likely to make time for those who had been recommended by people they trust.
3. Check listings from business groups and associations
This is especially helpful if you are targeting a specific industry; depending on how active the industry is, try to find out if they have an industry-wide association or group. These groups usually have a listing of their member companies, which also includes the names and contact details of the key people that you can reach.
Why is this important? You don’t need to spend hours scouring through different sources just for names of all the companies in that industry, and then spend a few more hours trying to find out who you should contact. Also, you get the chance to tell potential clients that yo got their details from a group that they are a member of, upping your credibility some more.
4. Make sure you’re armed
When you get your chance to talk to your potential clients, don’t waste it by fumbling through your presentation decks or scrambling for answers. Prepare a quick spiel but make sure that you are prepared to answer their questions. Before facing them, try to come up with a list of things that they are most likely to ask you and what your response should be.
Why is this important? You wouldn’t want to spend all that effort getting potential clients to notice you only to screw it up by being unprepared. Respect the time that they gave you by not wasting it.
5. Remember that confidence is not equal to arrogance
It is always a good idea to show your confidence in your product whenever you talk to potential clients. Besides, if you don’t think your product will work, then you probably shouldn’t be selling it yet. But you don’t need to exaggerate the merits of what you are offering; doing so would only make you come off as arrogant. Remember, confidence is convincing, while arrogance will probably only annoy everyone.
Why is this important? Apart from the fact that arrogance is unbecoming, it tends to magnify the merits of your product and blinds you to the problems you need to address. Having faith in your product or service is a very important factor to success. But refusing to consider legitimate concerns because of a misplaced sense of pride is a step toward failure.
Also read: Stop making these startup branding mistakes
6. Go for broke
All your database building and listing might seem overwhelming. No matter how great you think your product is, there will always be small moments when you will worry. Because why would these businesses – some of them large established ones – partner with a small startup, right? Not a good mindset to get into, so do your best not to dwell on that. Just keep reaching out to your potential clients – big or small – and get word of your product out there.
Why is this important? While you can’t be sure that they will buy your product, you can never really be sure that they won’t either. Might as well show them what you got. At the very least, you’re now in their radar.
Any more ideas that could help out in B2B selling? Sound off in the comments!
Featured image credit: maxkabakov / 123RF Stock Photo