5 B2B sales challenges and how to overcome them

Alibaba.com NOVEMBER 25, 20206 MIN READ
5 B2B sales challenges and how to overcome them

B2B sales can be a bit tricky at first while you’re still hammering out your sales process and figuring out how to best manage your sales pipeline. There are many challenges that B2B salespeople in your shoes face even when they feel like they are doing everything right.

In this post, we’re going to identify 5 of the biggest sales challenges that B2B businesses face. We will pair each challenge with actionable solutions to overcome them. In addition to the 5 typical B2B sales challenges, we will take a quick look at how COVID-19 has amplified these issues.

Challenge 1: Trouble Finding Qualified Leads

When it comes to sales, many B2B businesses aren’t exactly sure where to get started to find qualified leads. Salespeople like yourself may have tons of connections, but are any of these people who you need to be selling to? Do they need your products?

Not knowing how to find leads is extremely frustrating since it is the first step of the sales cycle. Without any leads, you won’t have any customers.

The solution: get clear on your ideal client?

Once you have a clear understanding of who you serve and how you can serve them, you will have a much easier time finding leads.

Two different things can help here. One is to create a detailed description of your ideal client profile, and the other is to develop a marketing strategy that speaks directly to this ideal client.

This will help you target the right audience and generate interest among qualified leads.

Challenge 2: Leaky Sales Pipeline

The sales pipeline is naturally funnel-shaped, so you generally end up with a lot fewer customers than you do leads.

However, if your sales pipeline is not well managed and your processes are not optimized, your sales pipeline will leak. Essentially, this means that qualified prospects that would otherwise become customers fall through the cracks at some fault of your own.

Even a slight “leak” could cost your thousands or even millions over the years.

The solution: optimize your processes

In order to stop the leak on your sales pipeline, you’re going to need to optimize your sales processes. Map out the customer experience from the time they become a lead and show interest in your product until you close the deal and beyond.

Document this process so that every member of your team that has any contact with leads, prospects and customers is on the same page. This will help you provide a consistent experience, not only for an individual customer throughout their journey but for any business that shows interest in buying from you.

Define clear actions that you take at each step of the process, and create a somewhat standard timeline for the process. Create templates for any documents (such as emails, proposals, contracts, invoices, etc.) that will be used in the process so that there is never an unnecessary delay.

Most importantly, nurture your leads and build trusting relationships along the way.

Challenge 3: Difficulty Connecting With Decision-makers

Many businesses have gatekeepers between salespeople and the decision-makers. This is ultimately designed to avoid wasting executives’ time, but if you are trying to close a deal, you will benefit from having access to these people.

The inability to connect with decision-makers can cause you to lose sales and decrease your closing rate.

The solution: leverage your network

There are a couple of ways that you can get access to the decision-makers. The first is by building relationships with the gatekeepers so that they trust you enough to connect you directly with their higher-ups.

The other way is to forge relationships for yourself. LinkedIn is one channel that provides direct access to just about anybody in a business. Do your research to see who you need to connect with, then find them on LinkedIn and start by building an online relationship.

Challenge 4: Dragged Out Sales Cycles

Time is money, so if your sales cycles are being dragged out longer than they need to be, money will be left on the table. You don’t want an extravagant amount of time and resources to be spent focused on one single lead.

Sales cycles are often dragged out because of the salesperson’s turnaround time for each step of the process.

The solution: streamline your processes

Streamlining your processes will come in handy if you want to speed up your sales cycle. The same points we made in regards to fixing a leaky sales pipeline apply here.

Hammer out your processes and have everything on your end prepared to move the lead right along and make them a customer.

Although it is a good idea to streamline your sales processes to keep your sales cycle more succinct, rushing your prospect is not a good idea. Optimize the process rather than condense it.

Challenge 5: Customer Retention

Naturally, B2B sellers will have customers drop off from time to time. This could be caused by many reasons, including the short-lived demand for a product or because the customers’ businesses shut down. These instances have very little to do with the buyer, and everything to do with the seller.

Unfortunately, many B2B businesses struggle to retain customers even when they do have more control over the situation. Customers may take their business elsewhere if they feel that you, as a supplier, are not giving them the best buying experience.

This could have to do with your prices, your products, your processes or simply how you treat your buyers.

Cycling through customers so quickly can be costly for your business, especially if you’re pricing your goods intending to build a long term relationship. Issues with customer retention can have a negative impact on your business in the long run.

The solution: prioritize customer service

In order to improve your customer retention rates, you’re going to need to prioritize customer service. Treat your customers so well that they won’t wonder if there is a better supplier for them.

Aside from treating them with respect and always producing as promised, this means being honest with your rates.

COVID-Specific Sales Chanllenges

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 have led to challenges in many different industries. Any business practices that required in-person interaction were forced to move online. Moving online at such a rapid pace was difficult for businesses that had never operated in that fashion before.

One of the biggest issues here was the cancellation of tradeshows and industry-specific events that so many B2B suppliers relied on to make connections with new customers.

B2B eCommerce platforms, like Alibaba.com, made it possible for wholesalers to not only sustain but to grow their businesses. The setbacks caused by social distancing lead to the rapid digitalization of B2B operations and the growth of B2B eCommerce.

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned, Alibaba.com has been at the forefront of the popularization of B2B eCommerce. Online marketplace designed for facilitating relationships between wholesale buyers and sellers are very valuable for streamlining the sales process and overcoming the challenges that we discussed in this post.

If you are interested in learning more about how Alibaba.com can help you overcome your unique challenges, chat with a consultant now to learn about our powerful tools and features and get connected with buyers in no time.