B2B buyers are more self-reliant than they’ve ever been. By the time they’re ready for a sales conversation, they already know their stuff.
But relying on prospects to take initiative can mean forfeiting crucial opportunities or allowing deals to drag on—allowing your competitors to seize them.
Push too hard, you’ll turn buyers off. Sit back on your heels, a helpful competitor will swoop in.
So the solution isn’t to take a heavy-handed sales approach. It’s to be more proactive. Sellers have to guide (not push) buyers through the sales journey while showcasing their product's value as the antidote to the buyer’s problems.
In this guide, we’ll cover how to take a more proactive approach to selling — including seven proactive sales techniques you can start applying to your sales process today.
What is proactive selling?
Proactive selling is an approach to sales where sales teams seize control of the sales process rather than letting buyers dictate the process and pace. Sellers anticipate and address prospects' needs before they're aware of their own challenges.
Proactive selling does not refer to excessive cold calling and email outreach, or keeping your CRM neat and tidy.
Proactive sales is about collaboration. This means asking open-ended questions to buyers to uncover pain points, and collaborating with Marketing and Customer Success to craft resonant messaging and enablement content.
You also have to collaborate with buyer stakeholders, building connections with your deal champion, C-suite executives, technical buyers, and procurement specialists to drive the sales process forward.
Proactive selling is as tactical as it is strategic. Yes, you want sellers to have a proactive mindset, but they can also employ repeatable tactics to push deals forward, gather vital information, and keep control of the deal.
Proactive selling vs. reactive selling
Reactive sales means waiting for potential customers to act, inevitably slowing down the sales process. When salespeople take a reactive approach, they find themselves powerless as deals get delayed. Everything follows the prospect's pace and process.
In contrast, proactive sales empowers sales reps to guide conversations and keep deals moving. It enables them to set timelines for the deal, tell buyers how to be successful, and rope in relevant stakeholders.
The trade show test
Let's put both sales approaches to the test at a trade show.
As a proactive salesperson, you dive in headfirst, actively connecting with attendees. You collect vital information to gauge if your product aligns with their unique needs. Armed with this knowledge, you craft a pitch that spotlights features and benefits perfectly tailored to what they seek.
Additionally, you set a clear post-trade show plan, complete with specific dates for further discussions and trial runs.
As a reactive salesperson, it's a waiting game. You have a passive stance, waiting for attendees to come to you and offering generic information. You won’t actively engage in deep conversations or ask qualifying questions, nor will you have a clear follow-up plan.
7 quick-hit proactive sales strategies & tips
Here are eight steps your sales team can take to adopt a proactive sales approach:
1. Use a qualification-focused sales methodology
In B2B sales situations, identifying qualified buyers is more challenging than convincing them to buy. You win new business by focusing on the right deals.
When you prioritize qualification, you can convey how your product directly addresses their pain points. It's a persuasive, gentle nudge toward your solution your prospective customers will be thankful for.
2. Educate your buyer on potential roadblocks
The path to closing deals starts with arming your buyers with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed buying decisions.
This strategy, known as buyer enablement, anticipates a prospect’s buying challenges before they even have them.
Buyer enablement achieves:
- Problem awareness: It helps buyers recognize the issues they're currently facing.
- Path-to-purchase awareness: It guides buyers through the actual buying process (e.g. helps them prep for a security review).
- Solution awareness: It highlights how your product uniquely solves these challenges.
Note that buyer enablement is an outward-focused approach.
Your Revenue team creates personalized content, tools, and processes to guide buyers toward informed purchase decisions.
This includes resources like cost calculators, mutual action plans, and ROI studies. Basically, any trusted, problem-specific content that can be easily shared with their team.
3. Create client-specific digital sales rooms
Digital sales rooms (DSRs) are shared workspaces that serve as a centralized hub for your sales team to share strategic content with clients.
But unlike your CRM, where everything is internal-facing, a DSR is shared by both the sales team and prospects.
Picture them as exclusive microsites, for hosting and sharing useful content—be it demo videos, sales proposals, or technical documentation. But they're not just storage.
DSRs introduce organization and coherence to the purchasing process, replacing the chaotic email exchanges and cumbersome spreadsheets that can hinder the buyer's journey. They become your primary communication channel to enable real-time collaboration, document feedback, and track progress.
4. Introduce structure with mutual action plans
It defines team responsibilities, outlines crucial actions to secure the deal, and sets specific dates and timelines.
Think of it as a comprehensive checklist that ensures accountability on both sides. It also gives you a centralized project plan to initiate conversations around — you can always point your buyer back to the MAP.
With Dock’s mutual action plans, you can provide buyers with contextual clarity by embedding videos, presentations, and meeting notes within the MAP. This keeps clients informed about your solution, project status, and upcoming steps.
Using a mutual action plan is far more premium-feeling than a spreadsheet. A MAP also allows you to add relevant details for each action or task, creating a more buyer-friendly experience.
5. Enable your buyer champion
Your buyer champion is your most influential advocate within the prospect's organization, but they are not an expert in how to buy your product—you are.
You have to collaborate with them to leverage their influence.
Here's how you can empower them to showcase your solution in the best light:
- Curate buyer enablement resources: Provide your buyer champion with a tailored toolkit. Give them brochures, case studies, and sell sheets to effectively articulate your product's value to internal stakeholders and decision-makers.
- Prepare for potential deal roadblocks during sales conversations: Anticipate potential obstacles within the internal buying process. Collaborate with your champion to devise innovative solutions and strategies to address objections effectively.
For example, if budget constraints are a concern, help your champion build an ROI-focused business case. Or, if a competitor is in the picture, equip your champion with competitor comparisons (otherwise, they’ll make their own comparisons).
To further remove any friction for your champion, consider making a centralized Dock workspace. This consolidates all deal-related information and content in one place, providing your champion and their buying team with easy access through a single link. This way, they won't have to sift through tons of documents and emails.
Plus, you can use Dock's engagement analytics to find which content the decision-makers find most valuable and how they engage with it.
6. Maximize sales success through multithreading
So relying on a single champion simply won't cut it. Instead, you need four or five enthusiastic voices endorsing what you offer.
This is the essence of sales multithreading—a strategic approach that involves nurturing relationships with multiple champions within the prospect organization. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, you create a network of champions who work tirelessly on your behalf.
Multithreading should be a team effort. Introduce members of your company to their counterparts in the prospect’s organization. A meeting between your VP of Sales and their VP of Sales, for instance.
The goal is to bridge the gap, so that both parties speak the same language, making it easier to build genuine trust and relationships.
7. Tailor sales enablement content to every sales stage
To truly drive success throughout the sales cycle, remember this golden rule: match your sales enablement content to each phase. Whether it's the awareness, consideration, or decision stage, relevance is key.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Awareness stage: Blog posts, product/service website pages, webinars
- Consideration stage: Pitch decks, pricing quotes, customer care studies
- Decision stage: ROI case studies, competitor comparisons, personalized demo recordings
If you already have a content library, that's fantastic. Simply align existing content with each sales phase to identify gaps—and then focus on getting that content into your buyer’s hands at the right moments.
As your sales enablement program evolves, you can create tailored content for every customer segment you serve.
The challenge with sales enablement content—especially once you have lots of it—is making it accessible to sellers. Sellers often struggle to find content in messy Google Drive folders or company wikis (so they just stop using it).
Sales content management software like Dock is purpose-built to make it easy for reps to find and share your sales content. Content is organized into boards and collections to make it easily searchable. And reps can share content with buyers in one click.
How Dock helps lead your sales process
Dock is a revenue enablement platform designed to empower sales teams and buyers.
It's like a one-stop digital hub where account executives and buying teams can work together to progress a deal forward.
Compared to other tools, our digital sales room software creates a more collaborative and cohesive experience. Dock is the only DSR with embedded content and project plans where both buyers and sellers can join forces and tackle action items together.
It's a space that simplifies things for your buyers and fosters teamwork across your Marketing, Sales, and Customer Experience teams.
To get started in Dock, you can start from one of our pre-made templates, and adapt it to your selling process.