Top 7 Skills You Need to Succeed in B2B Sales

See also: Negotiation Skills

Salespeople are an essential part of any business-to-business (B2B) company since they are the ones who close deals and generate income. Unfortunately, selling is not something that most people are inherently good at, and even if they are, there will always be areas where they can improve.

Whether you're already in sales and want to improve, or brand new to the game and need to learn the ropes, you'll want to cover all bases, and that's exactly what this article is about.

Job interview handshake.

What Makes a Good Salesperson?

So, what does it take to be a good salesperson? Do you really need to be able to sell ice to Eskimos, or is it more about understanding a prospect's needs and offering them a solution that benefits both of you?

In the past, salespeople were known for being ruthless and working on a prospect until they reached their goal. That was not great for their reputation, and it could be one of the reasons why cold calling isn't as effective as it once was. Another reason is technological advancement. These days, people prefer texting and rarely answer their phones, so you need to find another way to reach decision-makers.

Typically, with B2B sales, you will be dealing with a lengthier sales cycle. As a result, you need to be able to cultivate long-term relationships with prospects and clients. You're in it for the long run, and your success in managing these complex relationships requires a set of key skills.

A good B2B salesperson is one who is able to network, consult, and build relationships through rapport-building. They know how to determine the value of their product or service for each client. That's because they can put themselves in their client's shoes and understand their needs. They're also good at making people feel at ease and building trust.

Deals are sealed when the salesperson can make their prospects feel respected and understood. Moreover, they need to approach prospects who have a genuine need for the products or services they're selling.

Research Skills

A salesperson's day is often spent researching and speaking with clients. The time and effort they put into research help them get new clients and improve their company's bottom line.

Google and LinkedIn are two of the most popular research tools these days, but there are plenty more. If you really want to understand how to do quality research, you need to partner with a leading market research company. The better prepared you are before approaching prospects, the more powerful your pitch will be.

Finding New Opportunities

Finding new opportunities is another vital skill for a successful salesperson. Networking, social selling, referral marketing, or even cold calling are all viable options. Whatever approach you prefer, the goal is to generate new prospects and bring in business.

In larger companies, you may have staff who are solely responsible for generating leads for you to follow up on. If you work for a smaller company where everyone is expected to wear multiple hats, it may be up to you to find leads and qualify them.

Qualifying Prospects

Fake prospects are the bane of every B2B salesperson's existence. You may think that being good at selling is all about turning any no into a yes, but it's actually knowing who to sell to and when. Remember that you don't want your clients to regret doing business with you, so the deal has to be mutually beneficial.

Online lead generation and content marketing are excellent tools for qualifying leads in a fully or semi-automated manner. Even if a team member screens leads before they reach you, knowing how to swiftly qualify prospects is critical if you want to focus your time and energy on the most promising ones. Similarly, effective B2B SEO services play a vital role in enhancing your online presence, ensuring your content reaches the right audience and generates quality leads that can be converted into successful sales.

Time Management

Regardless of how much the world of sales changes, at least one thing stays the same: time is money. But the tools you can use to manage your time have changed. And that's a good thing because you have a lot of options to choose from, ranging from simple synchronized calendars to comprehensive task management solutions.

Don't be afraid to put them to work. Find out which ones will help you make the most out of your time. Automating tedious, time-consuming tasks has never been easier, and you should take advantage of it.

Presentation Skills

Giving good presentations is another important aspect of working in sales. But it also happens to be something that makes most people at least a little nervous. For some, it sends shivers down their spines.

If giving presentations is not something you enjoy and you feel you're not very good at it, the good news is that you can improve without memorizing every single word on your slides or notes. It's not about that. If you want data to back up your claims, you can include it in the slides, but you don't have to recite it.

What matters most is that your presentation isn't bland. And that's what happens when you focus too much on facts and figures. People respond much better to stories since that's how we communicate with each other.

Dedicate the first few minutes of your presentation to the problem(s) your audience is facing, and then transition to how you can help.

Your audience will be looking for social proof so tell them about other companies in their industry that have had success implementing the solution you're proposing. This will also trigger our universal fear of missing out.

Objection Handling

If you work as a salesperson, especially in B2B sales, you can expect to deal with objections on a daily basis. If you approach this the right way, it can give you a valuable opportunity to ask more questions, learn more about your prospects' needs and tailor your pitch accordingly. A poorly handled objection, on the other hand, can disrupt an otherwise positive conversation.

When honing your objection-handling skills, you'll want to focus on the ones you'll encounter the most often:

  • Skepticism – your prospects are not sure your solution is right for them;

  • Indifference – your prospects feel they don't need what you have to offer.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

About the Author

Trevor Davis has a BA in Social Sciences and currently works as a corporate coach for a tech company. As a blogging aficionado, Trevor is passionate about sharing educational resources and helping professionals hone skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, and problem solving.