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The B2B Sales Process In 5-Steps

Himani Trivedi
February 23, 2024
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

With limited resources and increasing pressures to deliver ROI, early-stage startups are increasingly feeling the squeeze. Many find themselves juggling multiple roles and facing tighter budgets. It doesn’t help that running ads is seemingly becoming increasingly expensive. 

In times like these, showing tangible success becomes paramount. And amidst the hustle, it's easy to get caught up in chasing superficial metrics — email open rates, social media engagement, etc. You don’t want to miss the bigger picture: bottom-line pipeline and revenue.

To break this cycle, it's crucial to reassess your B2B sales process.

The 5-Step B2B Sales Process 

This is a sales process flowchart diagram showing steps from lead generation to closing with a signed contract
B2B Sales process flowchart

1. Lead Generation & Prospecting

Lead Generation 

The first step in the B2B sales process involves employing various marketing methods to pique the interest of potential prospects. In this step, strategies and tactics such as Account-based marketing (ABM), LinkedIn retargeting, content marketing, and events play important roles. With the right messaging and multi-channel marketing approach, teams can generate quality leads for their B2B sales process.


Unlike lead generation, prospecting focuses on immediate replenishment of the pipeline through outbound efforts such as cold calling and email outreach. However, it's important to acknowledge that prospecting can be challenging- “we’ve all heard the word “No!” more than we’d like to admit. Which is why it's always advised to rely equally on lead generation and prospecting in your B2B sales process. 

At this stage, a deep understanding of the Ideal Customer Profile or ICP becomes imperative to optimize the sales process for B2B.

2. Qualifying

After generating leads and prospects, the next step is to qualify them. This involves assessing whether they are a good fit for your offering. While traditional methods help qualify targets based on firmographic and demographic data, it's crucial to capture intent along with other buying signals. This can be achieved with a modern ABM solution (*ahem* Factors.ai) that offer robust account intelligence, scoring, and activation. This allows teams to determine intent and act on sales opportunities much faster.

Here’s a simplified checklist highlighting the questions to ask when you are qualifying a lead:

  • Does the lead match the characteristics of your ideal customer profile, including industry, company size, geography, and demographics?
  • Does the lead have a specific need, problem, or pain point that your product or service can address?
  • Does the lead have the financial resources and budget allocation to invest in your offering?
  • Is the lead a decision-maker or influencer within their organization who has the authority to make purchasing decisions?
  • Is the lead actively seeking a solution, and is there a defined timeline for making a purchasing decision?
  • Has the lead demonstrated interest and engagement with your brand, such as attending webinars, downloading resources, or interacting with your sales team?
  • Has the lead interacted with your company before, such as requesting information, submitting inquiries, or participating in discussions?
  • Does the lead align with your B2B sales process and criteria for progression through the sales pipeline?
  • Have you asked qualifying questions to assess the lead's needs, challenges, goals, and fit with your solution?

Once you’ve answered these questions, assign a score based on predefined criteria, such as firmographics and engagement to prioritize sales-ready buyers for further follow-up. 

Most companies Review data in their customer relationship management (CRM) system to track lead interactions, history, and status. However, CRM data forms a small part of the qualification method and should be treated as such. 

In fact, 65% of companies start using a CRM within their first five years in business, yet 66% of businesses switch to a new CRM because their current platform lacks the features they need. CRMs are the most oversubscribed and underutilized software solution as the company scales.

The reason is simple. A CRM can only help you make sense of fit data. What you need to tie your B2B sales process together is a system that encourages you to factor in intent and behavioral data as well. This creates a disconnect in the B2B sales process. It tends to make the buying journey more tedious.. and more expensive! 

Factors.ai makes it possible to get a holistic view of your buyer’s journey. It allows you to gather intent and behavioral data by tracking the frequency, and nuance of their interactions with the brand. It adds some clarity and context to every interaction making it easier for sales representatives to approach.

3. Pitch

The pitch is where you present your product or service to the qualified prospect. It's essential to personalize your pitch to increase the chances of a purchase. A great B2B pitch encompasses several key elements and addresses the specific needs and challenges of your target audience. Here are the essential elements of a good sales pitch:

Understanding the Audience

Tailor your pitch to resonate with your target audience's needs, pain points, and priorities. Research your prospects thoroughly to understand their customer journey, triggers, motivation to buy, etc.

Clear Value Proposition

Clearly articulate the unique value proposition of your offering. Highlight how your product or service solves their problem, fulfills their needs, or delivers tangible benefits to the prospect's business.

Compelling Storytelling 

Use storytelling techniques to engage your audience and convey your message effectively. Share relevant anecdotes, case studies, or success stories that demonstrate the real-world impact of your solution.

Solution Demonstration

If applicable, provide a live demonstration or walkthrough of your product or service to showcase its features, functionality, and ease of use. Allow prospects to experience firsthand how your solution can address their specific needs.

Benefits Over Features

Focus on the benefits of your offering rather than just listing its features. Explain how your solution can help the prospect save time, reduce costs, increase efficiency, improve productivity, or achieve their business objectives.

Customization and Personalization

Tailor your pitch to each prospect by customizing your messaging and solutions to align with their individual requirements, preferences, and pain points. Personalization demonstrates your commitment to understanding their unique needs.

ROI and Value Proposition

Quantify the return on investment (ROI) or value proposition of your solution by highlighting potential cost savings, revenue growth, or other measurable outcomes. Use data, statistics, and relevant metrics to support your claims.

Engagement and Interaction

Foster two-way communication and engagement during the pitch by actively listening to the prospect's feedback, answering their questions, and soliciting their input. Encourage dialogue to build rapport and trust.

4. Objection Handling

Inevitably, prospects will raise objections during the sales process. Whether it is pricing or data migration, it's crucial to anticipate and address these objections effectively.

Pro tip from Dave Gerhardt:

A LinkedIn post by Dave Gerhardt discussing a B2B SaaS marketing strategy called "The Objection Smasher"

5. Closing

The closing stage is where the deal is finalized. This involves guiding the prospect through the final steps of the purchasing process, addressing any remaining concerns, and securing their commitment to move forward. Effective closing techniques can vary depending on the nature of the sale but typically involve setting up the next steps to complete the purchase (signing a contract etc). 

Why your B2B business needs a standardized sales process:

The golden rule of any B2B operation is repeatability = profitability. 

Think of it this way, your sales funnel has an irregular opening. 

It’s shaped like this jigsaw piece- 

A single blue jigsaw puzzle piece.

Sure, you can try and reach out to different types of people, in hopes that they convert- 

Five jigsaw puzzle pieces in a row, outlined, not interlocked

But none of them will. 

It's because they aren’t the right fit for your funnel. And without a standardized process or a clear path, you’re inevitably going to spend time and money trying to jam them through. 

However counterintuitive, it is much more profitable to target a smaller audience that is more likely to convert than to get lost in a sea of prospects– none of which will end up buying your product or service.

Identifying the “ideal customer” for your offerings helps narrow down what messaging, channels, and campaigns are working for you. This makes it easy to create repeatable processes and eliminate the guesswork from your marketing and sales operations.

In an ideal scenario, you have finely tuned teams that grasp precisely what your ICP desires. Quality leads flow in consistently, and the sales team keeps hearing a resounding "yes!" every time they pitch.

However, for the B2B sales process, the reality is quite different. It often involves navigating through multiple decision-makers on the buying committee and targeting various segments. This complexity can lead to jumbled processes and overwhelmed teams.

And it's not really your fault. For ages, B2B teams have been plagued by tunnel vision tactics and need more marketing and sales alignment. 

We didn’t know any better! 

As Brendan Hufford aptly points out: organizations employ marketers with hyper-focused channel expertise. But customer expertise gets lost in the process.

“Organizing by output/channel can be easy when you’re in early days. But as your user/buyer/ICP evolves and your audience branches out, things become… complicated.

In large organizations, it leads to a total breakdown of expertise, which is why SO many big organizations lose sight of their customers.”

Instead of concentrating on different channels and their outcomes, marketing and sales organizations should be defined by the different segments, audiences, and markets.

You may be tempted to shrug and say this only works for big organizations targeting multiple segments, but we beg to differ. 

For smaller, cross-functional teams, a software solution with an ICP-centric approach might just be the key.

How do you expect a cross-functional team to perform well, without a technology stack that looks at the bigger picture as well! 

Your software stack can help you facilitate a laser-focused approach. With marketing solutions like factors.ai, you can refine your cold outbound by identifying intent, optimizing your funnel, and fine-tuning your pitches to close deals.

Streamline your B2B sales process with Factors.ai

Want to learn more about Factors?

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