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No matter what industry you’re in, I’m willing to bet there’s a lot of competition. As you struggle to stand out in a sea of businesses, consider that an evidence-based sales process could be the competitive advantage you’re looking for.

Did you know that at a typical firm 13% of the sales staff generates 87% of the revenue?

This is a statistic that should make your heart sing, because with a solid B2B sales process, it is likely that you can increase the percentage of sales staff that excel, and hence reap greater profits. B2B firms that have a sales process that meets the needs of their sales representatives behave in observable ways. Here are five of their behaviors that it would be wise to adapt:

1. Focus on speeding up lead response time

Do you know how long, on average, it takes your sales team to respond to an acquired lead? If they are like most sales teams working in the realm of B2B business, it takes them longer than an hour. Only 37% of companies respond to leads within an hour.

If you do not know how long your sales team takes to respond to a lead, you should find out. If a sales representative follows up on a lead within an hour, they are 7 times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with a person who makes decisions.

You should know, and all of your sales representatives should know, that 35-50% of sales go to the first B2B firm that contacts a vendor.

2. Nurture your leads

Nurturing a lead—this is an important concept in the B2B realm, but what does it really mean?

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Well, the first point to make is that your sales team will have greater success when you are generating and then nurturing leads so that those people are ready to buy when contacted. Don’t think nurturing is just for marketing; there are benefits to nurturing of leads by your sales reps as well. Often a two-pronged approach of calling and emails coming directly from you or your sales reps work well. And yes, these emails can also be automated to help reduce your workload.

If you have a marketing team, have them work in concert with your sales team to reach out to leads in imaginative ways, using a blend of email marketing, social media, paid retargeting, and more.

3. Develop a sales playbook

The sales playbook is not a new idea, but it’s one that is growing in popularity. A formal sales playbook a crucial tool for B2B businesses. Why?

A playbook is just a plan, but it is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand plan that lays out your sales process. Having a sales playbook allows you to improve training processes and share best practices, and it closes the performance gap between top sales people and everyone else as much as possible. Finally, a sales playbook can help you standardize your sales process.

4. Embrace social media platforms

Social media platforms were initially thought best left to B2C organizations, but this way of thinking has evolved, with mammoth B2B companies like GE successfully using social media platforms as part of their sales processes, and Maersk Line, a shipping container company who won an award for their efforts in using social media to attract customers.

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