10 Suggestions to Boost Your B2B Software Sales
Business-to-Business (B2B) sales are a core component of many business strategies, not only because they can signal the start of a long-term (and lucrative) relationship, but also because the amount of trust they signal. This is no different for software developers, with the key difference being that software developers face even more challenges than traditional B2B marketers when it comes to landing - and growing - sales
Begin by acknowledging that you aren't only selling a product, you're also selling a service; then see which of the following suggestions you aren't already following, and work them into your sales and marketing strategy.
Tweak Your Pricing and Content Strategy
The appeal of your product is influenced by a number of things, and the more territories you offer your product in, the more influences you have to consider: including cultural and economic. The goal is to find a pricing and content strategy that appeals to your audience in most of the territories you operate in, not simply the largest territory. The same applies to what you offer, though it should be noted testing out different offerings and content strategies is less complex than testing out pricing strategies, as illustrated by the minor controversy Adobe faced back in 2014.
Establish Relationships not Deals
An old marketing concept that was revitalized by content marketing is that of building special relationships with your customers. This should have carried over into your sales department, and if it hasn't, then there's no time like now to start working on this. Nobody is expecting you to start treating your clients like BFFs, but your interactions with them should be more meaningful than formal sales pitches. Doing this can make it easier for you to identify the specific needs of each customer, allowing you to demonstrate how your offering is suited to addressing these needs.
Give Stuff Away
Deciding on a new software solution for your organization is a little like buying a new car: no matter how many trusted reviews you read, or how many of your friends and colleagues rave about it, the final decision often rests on you taking the car for a test drive to see if it performs and handles as well as everyone says, and more importantly, to see if you feel comfortable in the car. With software, you can spend hours reading through the features list, and examining case studies of how the software benefited other organizations, but until you try it you won't know whether it is a good fit for your organization. Software, of course, makes "try-before-you-buy" easy, so don't shy away from offering a time-limited trial of the full package, or even offering a version of it completely free for non-commercial use.
you can spend hours reading through the features list, and examining case studies of how the software benefited other organizations, but until you try it you won't know whether it is a good fit for your organization
Abandon Lead Generation
Well, not completely. Rather switch from focusing on lead generation to demand generation by bolstering your SEO, SEM and other inbound marketing activities. Automation can make some of these easier to manage, as long as you are paying close attention to your marketing analytics, and adjusting your activities as needed. This will free your sales team up to spend more time on ranking and sorting leads, and then nurturing those leads through to a conversion. It’s also a first step towards building real relationships.
Sometimes we try a new product based purely on the marketing (especially if it includes a celebrity endorsement), and sometimes we only try it after our friends or peers recommend it. While your customers are unlikely to be swayed by a celebrity endorsing your product, real customer testimonials and detailed case studies carry some weight. You would have already seen many companies displaying the logo's of their corporate clients -and short testimonials -on their websites, and they're doing this not to be boastful, but because it establishes trust. Case studies entrench this trust by showing prospective customers how you provided solutions to other organizations, and how they benefited from it. But don’t forget to also give stuff away!
Launch Related Side-Projects
Many organizations dedicate resources to side-projects which somehow relate to their primary industry and/or products, but aren't too far from being experimental playgrounds. However, they do serve a very important purpose: they act as both a testing area for new features and/or products, and they can help position your brand as an authority within your field, while being a passive marketing tool attracting the attention of potential customers. Handsoncode has both a commercial and OSS offering, while still maintaining a side-project directly related to their primary product.
Share Quality Content
An important component of demand generation is discoverability; being visible to people searching for a solution you offer. SEO and SEM help improve this, when supported by the content on your website. Quality always supersedes quantity, so ensure that the type of content you share appeals to both your existing customers, and any potential customers. Pay attention to what type of content generates the most activity amongst your audience, and then dedicate more resources to producing that content.
Talk to Your Customers
The types of challenges businesses face - and the solutions they require - are in a constant state of flux, so it is important that your solution is always optimally positioned to address these. Having an engaging relationship with most of your customers gives you the ability to be able to ask questions relating to this, but it is important that you do this with a broad selection of your customers: at least five customers, and include small through to large organizations. You can use surveys for this purpose too, but only if you have a suitable response rate.
The Benefit of Long-Tail
Long-tail keywords are to discoverability what discoverability is to demand generation. Marieke van de Rakt offers a great explanation of why you should be using long-tail keywords, with one of the key considerations for both B2B and B2C being that:
although these keywords are used less in search, the visitor that finds your website using them is more likely to buy your service or product.
Remember Email Marketing
Email marketing has a rather checkered past, and is still looked down upon by some marketers. But done correctly, email marketing can deliver impressive results, with an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. Remember:
- It is easier to personalize email marketing through segmentation and automation
- Automation is now a key-feature of email marketing, and much more accessible to smaller businesses.
- Because it is permission-based marketing, you are engaging with people who are already interested in your product(s).
The results you see from each of these suggestions will differ according to your audience, which is why it is recommended to experiment by implementing a few of them, and adjusting them until you’re happy with the results. And if you’re already using some of these in your business, let us know which, and how they have impacted on your performance.