Educational Suggestions for the Aspiring B2B Salesperson

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B2B sales is all about knowledge. Here's how to get the know-how you need to close deals. The most fundamental distinction in B2B sales is knowledge: More than frequent business-to-consumer transactions, you need to know your industry. That knowledge often won't be found in the product features or technical specifications. It's comes from understanding how the customer's business works and how two can partner in for their success. That's why most good B2B salespeople constantly look for learning opportunities, both formal and informal. A little extra knowledge can make a dramatic difference in closing sales. There are numerous ways to build knowledge and expertise as a B2B sales professional. Here are some proven approaches:

Become Well-Rounded

To be a good B2B salesperson, it's important to know about all aspects of business, not just product details. This means becoming familiar with accounting, marketing, finance, manufacturing and other fields. Many B2B professionals pursue advanced degrees like MBAs. If your considering this path check the U.S. News and World Report rankings of top business schools for a good starting point. If a formal program is too time intensive, consider taking shorter continuing education courses to pick up additional expertise. The Internet also provides any number of opportunities for self-taught learning.

Find A Mentor

Finding a good mentor is the fastest track to quick success for many young salespeople. Mentors may come from within our outside your company — so long as they don't directly compete with you. Internships also are a good source for finding mentors. A good mentor provides guidance on how to develop professionally, and, perhaps even more importantly, helps you avoid rookie mistakes that can derail a sale. Or a career.

Immerse Yourself In Your Customers' Industry (Or Industries)

To become a true partner with a customer, you have to understand the customer's industry. This means reading about the industry in trade journals — many of which are online or offer free subscriptions — taking plant tours or shadowing workers and attending industry events, such as shows and seminars. If your customer is confident that you understand the industry, you build trust and are in a much better position to give the customer the right products or services for success.

Take a Sales Training Course

A quick Internet search will list dozens of available training programs. If you're just starting out, this can be a fast route to honing your skills. Training Industry magazine ranks the Top 20 Sales Training Organizations each year, and this can be a good place to start your search. Many courses are cloud-based, so it's easy to work them into your schedule. It's also good to note that sales courses often focus on good communications—listening, understanding and solving problems. If you can't take a formal course, practice these skills on your own.

Remember That Nothing Is Constant Except Change

Industry dynamics can change rapidly, especially in business-to-business sales. A hot product today may be obsolete in six months. Or it may just need to be sold differently. A B2B professional who makes education a priority will have the knowledge to make this happen.

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