If you’re in B2B sales, you’ve probably battled a gatekeeper. They can make or break your sale. This is especially true of B2B mid-market sales. Gatekeepers hold the keys to the kingdom. If they don’t see an opportunity, they can ensure no one else sees it either. That’s why we call them gatekeepers.
Without a doubt, B2Bs hate gatekeepers. They frustrate salespeople and hurt business relationships. The real trick is finding ways to overcome these obstacles. If you’re interested in selling to B2B companies in the future, it’s essential to know how to get around gatekeepers.
4 Ways to Get Past the Gatekeeper
You can’t just pick up the phone and call to accomplish this. Gatekeepers live to prevent salespeople from getting through. Here are four ways to bounce over, under, and around gatekeepers to reach prospects you otherwise couldn’t.
Whether a receptionist or an account manager, a gatekeeper is designed to keep you out. They’re tasked with filtering visitors, calls, and emails from prospects and determining if the person you want to reach will be willing to listen to what you have to say.
A gatekeeper has control over whether or not you can speak with your prospect, but they don’t have to be the end-all-be-all of decision-makers. Most gatekeepers are just doing their job—managing their boss’s schedule and ensuring they don’t get interrupted by unnecessary people.
You can win over gatekeepers by showing them that you value them as an essential part of the process and that you’re not just trying to get past them so you can sell something. You need to have a sense of empathy for their role in the company and understand how much they must be juggling on any given day. That way, when they say no, it won’t feel like a rejection from someone who doesn’t want to hear from you at all—it’ll feel like a rejection from someone who does want to help but just doesn’t have time right now!
#2: Make It Personal.
1. Handwrite a note.
If your prospect is someone who cares about personal touches, this can be an excellent way to break through their defenses.
2. Make an appointment in person.
If you’re able to arrange an in-person meeting, do so! It’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting to have a conversation with them, which can go a long way toward getting past their defenses (and gatekeepers).
3. Send swag!
If your prospect is the type who responds well to gifts or small tokens of appreciation, send them some marketing swag as soon as possible after making contact with their gatekeeper—it’ll help show that you’re serious about wanting them as an account
#3: Changing Your Perspective.
Every gatekeeper is a resource. Each of them has access to valuable information. They know where your prospect is, their schedule, phone number, and much more.
You must view each gatekeeper as a resource rather than an obstacle. Viewing each gatekeeper as an obstacle can lead to some frustration if you’re not careful. Asking for the name of someone’s assistant can be an excellent way to get around this problem and make sure you have the right person on the line when you call back.
You should also try to be polite and respectful when dealing with gatekeepers. Remember that they are people too and may be working in an uncomfortable situation themselves (for example, fielding calls from angry customers). Don’t take it out on them just because they’re not letting you through!
If you’re having trouble getting through to someone by phone, try sending them an email instead or following up later in the day when their schedule might be less busy.
#4: Bypass the Gatekeeper.
If you have a sales team, they probably spend most of their time on the phone and emailing leads. They may be spending more time doing this than they are selling.
You should be if you’re not using a CRM (customer relationship management) system to track your contacts. But even with a CRM, there are still plenty of people who aren’t using it as effectively as they could be.
Gatekeepers will always exist in some form or another — whether it’s a secretary or someone else who answers the phone or screens your emails — so it’s vital for you to find ways around them if you want to get through to decision-makers
The most effective way to bypass gatekeepers is to invest in sales data. Partner with a B2B data provider, such as Pipeline Signals, to secure your most important prospects’ direct dials and email addresses.
Once you have these contacts, send them an introductory email explaining who you are and why you’re reaching out. If they respond, it’s time to start building rapport and working on establishing a relationship over time.
Another approach is to research your prospective company and find out what their employees are talking about online. Look for groups or communities where they participate and join those groups yourself. This will allow you to engage with them online in a more organic way than sending an email cold call — which could see it as spammy or intrusive (and therefore not read).
B2B selling has evolved in recent years, although at a glacial rate, as the digital world has provided expanded access to data and enhanced insights. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause issues for many businesses, and the gap between surviving and shutting down hangs on a knife’s edge, the online sales movement has gone from zero to sixty in a matter of days.
To deal with this new reality, sellers are expanding their emotional intelligence to attract new consumers and ease the worries of existing ones, using new selling approaches, bolstering their customer service skills, and using new sales technology.
It has been said that the future of sales is the irreversible shift of organizations’ sales and marketing tactics, procedures, and allocation of resources to a buyer-centric model, as well as the shift from analog selling process to highly automated, virtual client engagements.
There is now a growing emphasis on sellers’ roles and the tools and technology that may assist them in doing what they do best. That’s the basis on which we’re forecasting sales patterns and trends in the years to come.
Trends in B2B sales
Growth Driven by Products
If you operate in the software sector, you’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase product-led expansion a few times. Companies, as you may know, can have a variety of growth and revenue strategies. Some companies rely on sales-driven growth, while others rely on marketing-driven growth. Product-led growth is the newest buzzword. It’s a marketing strategy in which sales and customer retention are all predominantly driven by the product.
Firmographic data sets, such as size, location, and industry, are without a doubt the most often utilized prospecting and ideal customer profile criteria. These factors guide the judgments of millions of sellers throughout the world on who to approach and not.
When it comes to firmographics, we’ve depended on very static and limited data sets for decades. The primary address is used as a location indication, while standard industry designations are used as industry information.
Sales tech developments are seen to improve firmographics data gathering. When machine learning methods can profile organizations with much greater accuracy, outdated and generally 10-15-year-old sector codes can be discarded.
Today, revenue teams may now choose from a variety of areas, including 3D technology, data visualization, network security, and green technology.
The same may be said for data on location and business size. Target groups may now be built based on the headquarters site and sub-locations.
Moreover, rather than focusing just on revenue and employee numbers, perhaps a focus on growing momentum is a preferable selection criterion as well. What is the rate of growth in online traffic, and how are searching and hiring volumes behaving? Sales and marketing personnel will become more precise in the years to come, which we refer to as firmographics 2.0 in targeting.
Modern selling will become highly automated. Sales teams will devote more time to larger possibilities that need a consultative approach, discovery sessions, and customized bids. More individuals will become involved, both as buyers and sellers.
Client-facing digital portals and microsites will grow in popularity as a result of these broader sales processes. Parties can share important documents, communicate with one another, and create customized bids for potential leads.
In reducing any buyer friction before the contract is signed, the purpose is to deepen the connection. These portals also allow vendors to evaluate the material their clients watch and engage with, which is essential for determining which content has the most impact.
The COVID-19 pandemic has solidified omnichannel interactions as the preferred sales channel for B2B companies. When given the option of in-person, distant, or e-commerce channels, buyers have demonstrated that they desire all of them. Sales models will become hybrid as purchasing becomes multichannel.
A versatile salesman communicates with consumers via phone, emails, online chat, video, applications, and in-person appointments on occasion. This will almost certainly result in channel disputes, as well as a significant need to rethink the onboarding process for new sellers.
As the sales and revenue operations team transitions from a multichannel to an omnichannel approach, attribution becomes even more critical. However, it may result in channel conflicts, such as when two agents approach and engage with the same consumer at the same time, disrupting the buyer experience.
Most sales executives, who began their careers using a more linear sales style, will need to return to school to improve their abilities in all of these new tools and apps. Proposals may be participatory and trackable, and the first point of contact doesn’t have to be a well-written email or a well-rehearsed cold-call script, but rather something altogether different, such as a customized video message sent right to recipients’ social network inboxes.
This year, innovation, expertise, and transparency will continue to merge in B2B sales to answer the concerns of corporate buyers. The trend is turning toward account-based selling and digital transformation, driven by client behavior and sales technology.
It’s time to do an honest self-evaluation and figure out what will help your sales organization rise with the tide and what will sink it.
While most salespeople are self-motivated, it is nevertheless crucial to recognize their efforts. Proper appreciation is frequently what motivates your sales force to go far beyond. Apart from that, it’s just a lovely thing to do. It also contributes to the creation of a pleasant work atmosphere.
Different Ways to Motivate and Appreciate Your Sellers
Here are some excellent methods to thank or inspire your sales crew.
Give your sellers the necessary tools to succeed.
Sales professionals are frequently looking for tools to help them thrive independently. This can eat up critical sales time and resources. Providing sales teams with tools to help them succeed in sales, such as acquiring sales leads, is a beautiful method to inspire them.
Encourage a level playing field.
What if the same member of the sales team continues receiving the rewards? This is a possibility, particularly with smaller businesses. It’s a good idea to establish a tiered reward system that supports varied skill levels to avoid any concerns. Junior sellers, for example, maybe in one subgroup and senior execs in another.
Congratulate your sales team for making successful sales.
Certainly, applaud your sales representatives on successful sales. It may be a long process with many peaks and troughs. Take the time to praise them on all sales, particularly tiny ones. While most of your B2B company’s revenue will most likely come from a few significant clients, modest transactions have worth and relevance. Small sales are a natural source of incentive. A seller will be motivated if they make a little transaction. They will feel appreciated and even driven to do it again if you congratulate them on short sales.
Lunch on the house.
Who doesn’t enjoy getting free food? Food is always appreciated, whether you take your team out to lunch or order delivery. Snacks or sweets can be substituted for a complete meal if you don’t want to eat a full meal. If your company is now utilizing a remote setup owing to the epidemic, you might occasionally send free meals or even delightful sweets to your team members on their birthdays.
Organize an event for your team.
An event is a pleasant way to recognize your team’s accomplishments when they’ve been working very hard for you. It’s also a fantastic approach to foster teamwork. You may have a party at your workplace, a neighborhood restaurant, your house, or a rented venue.
Provide a flexible work schedule.
Don’t impose a rigorous timetable on your sellers as a sales rep. Instead, offer them the option of choosing their hours. Offering workers a flexible work schedule will drive them to achieve. They will value your confidence in them as their sales rep and go to great lengths to guarantee their success.
Allow for more vacation time.
While most businesses are unable to do so regularly, consider if you can offer members of your staff an additional day-off on occasion. Allow them to leave early on Fridays. Aside from feeling valued, an unexpected break is a great way to refresh and return to work feeling energized.
Motivate them with inspirational quotes.
Consider hanging banners or pictures with motivating slogans in the workplace of your B2B business. You don’t have to put them up on every single wall. Instead, post encouraging quotations in common areas of your office, such as the breakroom or meeting room. When your sales staff see these quotes, they’ll know you’re coming from a good place. This will assist them in remaining optimistic and maintaining a positive attitude in both good and bad situations.
Incentives are designed to encourage your team to achieve their objectives, including completing transactions and meeting sales targets. An incentive program may significantly improve their sales performance and bottom line, whether the incentive is cash, an expensive item, or a weekend trip.
Request feedback from your team.
Get feedback from your sellers to acquire insight into any issues or obstacles they face. A sales rep’s motivation may be harmed if they have met a difficulty they don’t disclose. You may fix and avoid problems by asking your sellers for input constantly, resulting in a highly driven sales force.
Being a leader is perhaps the most crucial strategy for motivating your sales team. Sales staff can’t expect to succeed on their own. Instead, you must provide an example for others to follow for them to succeed. Put another way, demonstrate to your sales team what you demand of them by completing the same responsibilities.
It’s vital to have faith in yourself and your ability, too. As the leader, your job is to hire, develop, teach, assist, and inspire sellers to perform better than you did in sales. Surround yourself with clever, driven sales reps if you want to be a great boss.
Boosting motivation and revenue is only the beginning. Successful motivational or appreciation programs may boost employee retention and recruit top talent. After all, they’re the ones in the trenches, answering phones, responding to internet inquiries, converting leads to sales, and assisting your business in achieving its goals. Showing your sales team some love and gratitude daily may go a long way toward keeping them motivated and on track to accomplish their sales goals.
Sales have gone a long way and taken on a new shape from the earlier years when they were overpowering and time-consuming. Selling has been more straightforward, precise, and fulfilling in recent years, thanks to the emergence of solutions that assist in streamlining the entire process.
The truth is, you will never be able to increase sales if you try to accomplish everything on your own.
To compete at the top level, you must implement sales automation.
One huge misconception is that creativity and innovation suffer when a process is automated. But this isn’t the case. As you assign more difficult everyday activities to a sales automation tool, it stimulates creativity among your sales team. You’ll have more time to brainstorm, which means you’ll be able to develop more innovative methods to market your items and tailor your offers.
What is the definition of sales automation?
A sales automation technology may increase efficiency, increase sales, and increase income by minimizing time-consuming and redundant work and saving you vast amounts of time. Then your sellers can focus on generating prospects and attempting to close deals instead.
Due to inventiveness and cutting-edge technology, nearly every company has exposure to automation tools and approaches that make marketing easier, smarter, and more efficient.
The advantages of sales automation
Never-ending improvement is one of the most significant traits of a successful entrepreneur. These businesses are always seeking new methods to maximize their profits. Spending money and effort in B2B sales automation is one of those investments that have the potential to transform a company for the better.
To help you get started, here are some ways your company may utilize sales automation to generate leads and increase revenue.
Improved client management
While some clients are concerned with product or service consistency, others choose a brand because of good relationship management, mainly when all stages of the buying process are appropriately managed. This is why businesses are increasingly using chatbots to manage client care.
AI-assisted support employees can manage customer service inquiries with ease. This allows you to free up your sellers to focus on more complex tasks and deal with more in-depth customer support issues.
Email marketing with a personal touch
Because they assist you in standing out from your rivals, personalization and customization are more crucial than ever. Personalization, however, can be pretty demanding. This is where email marketing automation can help you.
An auto-reply based on the data a sales automation tool has acquired can ensure that prospective clients receive a timely and tailored email response, resulting in a considerable increase in sales.
Artificial intelligence may also help you better understand your audience by analyzing your website visits. This will have an impact on judgments made in the future.
If you put up the correct automated procedures, you can maintain delivering personalized emails and answers even as your list grows. This sales automation saves you money and time and takes some pressure off your marketing team.
Faster document creation
Sales automation can assist you in generating the necessary documentation and contracts for your business. All terms and conditions and other details can be offered to the consumer and clarified on the spot without much effort.
Contracts can also include electronic signatures. Quick data, such as periodic reminders, can be generated and provided to clients to notify them of any type of renewals.
Simpler client segmentation
It is possible for businesses to segment clients more simply with sales automation technology. The sales automation technology assists in identifying individual clients to cut marketing efforts and increase sales.
A more efficient lead generation process
The most significant advantage of sales automation is that it streamlines the lead creation process. Prospects and contacts are assigned to marketing automation software based on their selling readiness. It also boosts exposure, generates higher-quality leads, and automates follow-ups.
When your business starts generating a consistent supply of qualified leads, a sales automation tool may update their sales-readiness ratings regularly and nurture the leads by sending out material targeted to their stage in the buyer’s journey, resulting in greater conversion rates.
Streamlined internal workflow
The ability to streamline internal processes benefits automation that is often overlooked in B2B selling. Internal workflows are created to improve the efficiency of current processes. For one, you may build up a workflow instead of having a seller constantly monitor the email every day after somebody completes a form on your webpage. The system immediately tells the salesman when the form is completed, allowing for a quick response.
Before it’s too late, think about investing in sales automation technology to boost your sales and expand your company’s success. Sales automation will always aid in the development of more innovative brands. Many companies know positive outcomes within just the first six months of using automation effectively.
Remember: taking your company to the next level involves more than just putting in long hours at work. Sales automation will enable you to escape the drudgery and diversify your revenue streams. You’ll be able to build a long-lasting business with the efficiency that sales automation delivers.
With LinkedIn taking the top position among best sources of B2B prospects, sales professionals have massively turned their heads to a new way of reaching out to potential customers – LinkedIn InMail. Meanwhile, your old friend email will be handier if you need a cost-free solution for a sales outreach. What is more, with email outreach, you can send up to 1600 emails a day and track their performance, which InMail won’t cope with.
But, if you decide to use the potential of email marketing for your sales campaigns, you should be well-versed in all “dos and don’ts” when preparing a sales email. In this post, we’ll talk about them and show you how to craft perfect sales emails that will bring you more responses.
Write a strong opening line
People spend only 12 seconds, on average, reading an email. This means – what you write at the beginning of the email, including the very first sentence after the greeting, should be engaging enough to make the recipient want to get in touch with you.
Although such an approach seems fairly utilitarian, it makes a lot of sense. Senders don’t have to invent ornate texts, while their recipients don’t spend a lot of time reading these texts, trying to extract the key point.
Asking the question
This is a nice tactic to engage the recipient with email content. People like it when somebody asks their opinion or shows interest in their plans. You can ask a recipient about his/her business and slowly add a problem statement to that question. For example:
How does your company cope with an excess burden of taxation?
3. Praising achievements
Verbal applause isn’t flattery if it’s genuine. However, this kind of opening line requires preparations from the sender’s side, like skimming through the prospect’s recent news or publication on LinkedIn.
4. Introducing oneself
Finally, you can choose to write about yourself or the company. This approach is particularly justifiable for cold outreach when you should make a recipient acquaintance with the brand before any kind of offer.
There are several common tips to write an apt opening sentence:
if the line is too long, it’s better to split it into two shorter sentences
use numbers that add value to what you say, for example, “Want to increase sales by 10%?”
don’t make it too loud – avoid misusing all caps and exclamation marks
don’t add too many adjectives – give more credits to verbs
point to something that connects you with the lead – a background, previous experience (including negative), etc.
tailor statements – do not use common phrases like “we see you achieved much this year”; instead, add some personal touch, like “we see you’ve launched IPO this year”.
Create a helpful email body copy
The message you send should bring value to recipients, otherwise don’t expect they’ll respond to it. Winning sales teams are those that can connect their company’s proposal with the lead’s needs.
Say, you sell a full pack of digital marketing services to small companies. Instead of addressing their owners with a “We will help you to grow revenue” pitch, point that you know how to deal with exact constraints small companies face. For example:
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Another technique to write a sales email is to use social proof. People rely on other people’s actions and tend to copy behavior patterns. So, they will be more willing to get in touch with your company if they see others choosing it.
You can wrap up emails by politely asking for sales referrals. People like being asked for help, so if you show them a sort of dependency on their opinion or actions, they’ll be more engaged with your brand as a whole.
An apt sales email copy is not about the content alone. It’s also about text length and structure, wordings, and visual design. If you’re aimed to convert the lead with an email, follow these recommendations:
identify the action you’ll treat as a conversion
For example, if a company sells subscription-based apps, the target conversion may be either a purchased product or an application for a demo.
Long copies can provide the lead with more details, but the issue is – nobody has time to read long-drawn-out rationales. So, unless the email is “clean and neat” enough, it’ll probably be bounced by recipients.
use short sentences
A sales email isn’t a literary work. Put yourself into the recipient’s shoes – imagine you’ve opened an email in a hurry to quickly get to the point. Would you prefer complex sentences with difficult lexis or – short phrases with “easy-to-digest” words?
use conversational language
Of course, if you address government agencies or highly specialized clients like healthcare companies, you should use very qualified words. In all other cases, it’s better to simplify the vocabulary. The best approach is to write an email copy as if it was prepared for your friend.
use active voice and avoid the “by” passive
Compare two sales email examples:
The increase in revenue was achieved by increasing the share of qualified leads (passive voice)
More qualified leads boosted the revenue (active voice)
The second example looks more conclusive, while the first is stuffed with prepositions. It’s better to add strong verbs in a sales email copy, like “drive”, “grow”, “start” – to motivate leads to actions.
Wrap up the email copy with a CTA
A call-to-action isn’t a guarantee of getting instant conversions, still, it can create a chance to get them. There are 2 key rules regarding CTAs in sales emails:
there should be 1 per copy
Remember, the recipient should grasp further actions clearly, so don’t overwhelm him/her with asking for extra actions.
If the email is about to engage leads with content, add a single “Read the full story” button in the copy. You can, however, include links to socials, just make sure they don’t distract attention from the main CTA.
If you wrap up an email copy with a sentence, outline further steps with (tentative) deadlines. Like “Can we jump on a 15-min call on Monday?” or so. A good thing is to add the link to Calendly so that a recipient will be able to schedule the meeting straight away.
Add a professional signature
Employees’ email signatures demonstrate the company’s attention to detail. There’s nothing bad to construct a simple signature with, e.g. by using settings in Gmail. Still, by adding some pieces of design to it, you can stand out from the crowd and look more professional than your peers.
A photo in the signature will show you follow the human-centric approach and have nothing to hide. The website address, 2 or 3 social links, and contact information will be sources of extra information and allow leads to get in touch throughout the channel they prefer most.
Best Sales Email Templates
Different selling purposes require distinct outlines and wordings. Moreover, sales templates differ in B2B and B2C markets. Below we’ve listed 6 examples of the high-performing emails that one can tailor and use for the most common business purposes:
To promote a free trial
SaaS companies usually promote their products by offering customers free access for a limited time. A corresponding sales email should briefly explain key terms of the subscription, including start day and duration. You can also wrap up the email by providing information on how to upgrade.
People who’ve shown interest in the brand are “warm” leads, so try to convert them through retargeting. These kinds of sales emails usually start with a “We want you back” pitch and are commonly used by online stores. Retargeting emails should include an attractive deal, for example, a discount for the next purchase.
Webinars or offline events are good to build brand awareness, but to be commercially justified, they should be followed with a proper sales email. Thank your prospect for the attention to the brand and then – list the benefits of the solution a company sells. And if you provide some examples, make them relevant to the lead by referring to his/her pain points.
Cold sales are tough yet essential to keep the pipeline full. Pay foremost attention to tailoring copies so that they don’t seem spammy or impersonal. Start with a brief introduction and explain how exactly you or your company can assist a prospect to resolve a particular issue. A good tactic is to also point to mutual interests, especially if a company operates on the B2B market.
Wait for at least 3 days before sending the first follow-up email, and increase the pause between all subsequent emails. To attract prospects with an offer, add some extra information or explain the benefits of the product in detail.
Be polite and never insist on answering. Still, make sure you’ve provided the recipient with a “go-to” instruction on how to get in touch in case he/she is interested.
The best tactic here is sharing interesting content. It takes months to build brand loyalty, so although nurturing emails don’t result in instant conversions – they are an essential part of any sales funnel in the long term.
Image source: a snapshot from Snov.io monthly newsletter
While preparing your sales outreach, you should consider which communication channel will be most effective — phone or Zoom call, InMail or email — or you might wish to mix them.
And if you stop your choice at email, keep in mind that a sales email takes time to be prepared. The perfect copy starts with an apt subject line and is followed by a neat email body and good wrapping-up. If you doubt how to write a sales email, refer to the best sales emails examples and tailor them as required.
I recently read an excellent book called The Excellence Dividend by Tom Peters—an ex-McKinsey consultant whose consulting practice now focuses on customer experience and customer excellence. In his book, Peters talks about the importance of cross-functional alignment. And I whole-heartedly agree!
I’m blessed to have developed a strong relationship with my fellow CEOs at sales training, consulting and advisory firms around the world. We chat at conferences, via email, and exchange notes quite often. There is one topic that we all unanimously see as high growth, and customers scrambling to level up – training/coaching for the Regional VP’s or Area VP’s of Sales.
Sales for Life was founded with one goal – to become the most trusted sales resource for its customers. During our journey, we’ve had the privilege of serving thousands of sales professionals and leaders around the world, from start-ups to Fortune 50 corporations.