B2B spending fuels 48 percent of the U.S. economy, and B2B sales teams influence these decisions every day. But B2B selling is not easy. It involves big bets, long-term relationships and inventive research. Great salespeople have to be data analysts, social media stars and project managers all at the same time. They need to educate, charm and engage to achieve their goals. B2B sales is short for business-to-business sales. It describes the transaction of products and services from one business to another. B2B sales transactions can take place in person or online. B2B sales contracts occur through the work of more than one stakeholder. They often have a high dollar value and long sales cycles. Done right, B2B sales can be both highly profitable and deeply rewarding.
B2B vs. B2C Sales: How They Differ Sometimes it is easier to define a concept by what it is not, so many definitions of B2B sales focus on how it differs from B2C sales and vice versa.
The customer always matters. But there are a few things that make B2B sales unique:
The purchase value is higher, so you want to build lasting relationships. Fewer leads means more time spent on each lead. Fewer leads and higher product value increase acquisition costs. Organizations have multiple stakeholders to whom a single sale is made. The buying timeline is longer and the sales cycle usually has more stages. Customers are buying for a group of people and are not allowed to directly use the product you are selling. Discounts affect buyers less.
You may need to become an expert in your field (SME) to close the sale.
B2B Sales Examples: B2B sales is more about who you sell to than how you approach the sale. However, a higher price point, a long sales cycle and an emphasis on relationship building can affect the B2B sales process. B2B sales include:
Insurance sales representatives in call centers contacting small businesses, Software managers visiting and introducing local businesses, Pharmaceutical salespeople at conferences, financial, security, manufacturing and other sales professionals, strategic companies, sales projects, B2B can participate in B2B, represent the company at trade shows, present new products and services, test new software, develop strategy with marketing teams, develop information campaigns.
Four Major Categories of B2B Sales
These are companies that buy raw materials or services to create products. These companies manufacture and sell their products to other companies or directly to customers. Manufacturers include Adidas, Pampers, Honda and L'Oreal.
Retailers sell products and services from other smaller businesses. They will not make significant changes to these products. Retailers improve the visibility and coverage of the products they carry. Examples of retailers include Amazon, Alibaba, Walmart and Target.
Governments around the world buy products and services to serve their communities. Companies form partnerships with national, state and local governments to support programs such as highway repair, disaster relief, public health. Government B2B vendors include Boeing, Pfizer and UPS Institutions.
Organizations, charities and hospitals also need products and services. Institutions are sometimes more budget conscious than other B2B customers. But the scope of their services makes them an important source of sales. Institutional examples of B2B sellers include: Pearson, a textbook maker, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health Products, National Food Group, a food distributor to K-12 schools
B2B Sales Trends in 2023 Sales are changing rapidly. While many sales strategies still are effective, you may need to change your approach to meet the changing expectations of buyers.
These are just a few of the trends you should be aware of as you update your B2B sales strategies: Customers want to engage with sales through digital channels. According to a study, phone calls, emails and video chats are the most effective remote sales channels. And 57% of C-level buyers prefer a phone.
50% of sales leaders say their sales reps have a hybrid sales model, according to a HubSpot survey. And 31% of B2B salespeople say they closed a $500,000 deal without meeting in person.
B2B sellers need to make the most of their limited time with customers. Omnichannel, social media research and data analytics are all useful tools to maximize sales effectiveness in 2022.
According to Gartner's B2B sales research, buyers spend only 5-17% of their time with salespeople during the buying process. According to a 2022 HubSpot study, successful salespeople are 19% more likely to analyze their data to improve their B2B sales process. They are also 12% more likely to use social media as a sales tool. B2B Sales and Social Media Research by HubSpot. More B2B customers are looking for vendor-free buying opportunities. This change may inspire you to create a great self-service shopping experience and/or explore methods of selling overseas. According to a Gartner study, by 2025, 80% of B2B sales communications between suppliers and buyers will take place digitally.
B2B customers may spend more time on marketing content than sales teams. This change means that marketing and sales teams must adapt to strategies, sales opportunity materials and more.
According to a 2022 survey, 5% of sales professionals say the importance of sales and marketing alignment has increased from 2021 to 2022. Another 2% say alignment is the top goal for 2022. But less than a quarter of those professionals say that sales and marketing are "very" aligned. Example B2B Sales Strategies: Sales and Marketing Alignment Statistics, Recent research also shows that 25.9% of sales professionals see improved lead quality as a benefit of alignment.
B2B Sales Strategies: Sales Strategies tells your team how to position your product to close the sale. Some sales strategies are over a hundred years old and others are company or industry specific. Each seller uses a combination of tried and true strategies. These approaches should match their personality, industry and the product they are selling. Proven sales strategies include scripting, pain point resolution and partnering. Initial strategies may include personal branding, social media engagement, or planning and preparation. There are hundreds of excellent sales books full of detailed strategies. But how do you know what suits you best? Most sales strategies fall into three broad categories:
Know your customer.
Whether you use buyer personas or leverage relationships, B2B sales is about people. Your company may already have extensive information about your most important customers, or you may need to do this research yourself. Ideally, this survey follows your customers through their typical buying process. These ways are different, but the customer journey usually looks like this:
Your customer encounters a problem. They are looking for an answer on the Internet. Your client reaches out to colleagues, professional networks or social networks for ideas. They research more solutions, read reviews, view your business website or sign up for a free trial. This could get them to sign up for a product demo or chat with you.
So your customer research needs to include not only who your customer is, but also what their network looks like and where they spend time online.
Knowing Your Customer Can Help You: Identify Your Best Leads. Develop Stories That Engage and Inspire Your Prospects. Be Where Your Customers Are. Decide When to Contact Your Leads. Learn How to Build Long-Term Relationships using Marketing Research Guide, Marketing Surveys tools, Buyer persona research, B2B social media strategies.
Whether you are driving challenges or fees, a B2B seller must create added value that is easy for customers to understand. For some, that means knowing what problems your product solves. In this scenario, you identify your customer's biggest problem and offer a specific solution to solve it. Creating value can also mean acting as a representative of your brand. In this role, you want to share a single message about how your business can make your customers' lives easier. As a salesperson, your job is to get a person to take a specific action that will benefit you and your company. But it doesn't have to be a self-centered activity. If you believe in your products, selling is an opportunity to share something useful with your customer. This is an opportunity to show them empathy and awareness. You have the opportunity to help make their daily work easier and more efficient. Creating value can make selling more fun. And selling the right thing at the right time can change his life. This information is both exciting and empowering. Recommended Resources: Value-Based Selling, Customer Value Guide, Value-Based Stories, B2B Sales Experience, B2B Customer Experience, Close the Sale.
B2B sales teams help customers make big decisions. In the process, they provide helpful resources, engage in long conversations, and share personal stories. Sales teams must build lasting relationships to close sales. Every industry has its unspoken rules and practices. As a seller, you have to decide how you want to navigate. Some sales professionals rely on a winning personality, while others pay close attention to detail when closing a sale. For example, in some industries, pricing is a big deal and making a sale requires an exchange. In other industries, service is more important. So a hand and personal attention can help you seal the deal. Trusted Sales strategies are not just about individual calls to sales managers. They also apply to specialist goals and approaches. For example, combining sales and marketing teams is a sales strategy that can create value throughout the buyer's journey.
As a B2B sales professional, it is important to develop a sales process that fits your business, your future prospects, and your overall goals. Here are the main steps you may want to include in your B2B sales process.
Create a B2B Sales Process. Conduct market research. Define your ideal buyer. Map the buyer's journey. Accept leads. Meet face to face. End the transaction. Track your results and improve them.
Now let's review what a successful B2B sales process might look like.
1. Do market research.
Begin the B2B sales process by conducting advanced market research to understand the current demand for your offering. Find out who your competitors are in your segment and learn their techniques and strategies to understand what messages your prospects are hearing from other sources.
2. Define your ideal buyer.
Take the time to find out which companies match your ideal buyer. In addition to thinking about what the prospect sells or offers, look for contextual information about the company's progress.
3. Map the buyer's journey.
Now that you know who your target audience is and how your offer serves them, it's time to map out how the customer will buy your offer. You can do this by walking through the steps a potential customer can take to gain access to your product or service.
Awareness: The buyer understands that they have a problem or pain point.
Consideration: the buyer figures out how to solve the problem and explores different optionsa, discount offers.
Decision: The buyer compares the available options and decides what action to take.
As part of your sales process, you should be able to identify and track where your prospects are in your sales journey. This gives you the ability to strategize so you can come up with tactics that meet them where they are in the process.
Let's say, for example, that the company is in the awareness phase of the purchase decision. Flooding them with pricing or product information would not be appropriate because they have not yet decided to buy to solve the problem. They simply admit there is a problem.
Lead is lead ready for direct sale. Not everyone who shows interest in your offer will become a qualified lead. When deciding whether a B2B prospect has sales quality, ask them the following questions: Have you tried to solve this problem before? If so, why didn't the previous solutions work? - This question gives you important context about what is working and not working to solve the customer's problem. Plus, you'll know exactly which pain points to talk about if your product is a good fit. Who makes the final purchasing decisions? — In B2B, you don't sell directly to the consumer. So you may need to work with multiple touch points to close the deal. Understanding who you need to involve in the final decision, what the process will look like and the overall budget can help shape your sales strategy.
5. Meet face to face.
When the needs of your customer and your product or service meet, try to communicate face-to-face as much as possible. As we discussed, B2B sales are inherently larger and can take longer to close. Meeting face-to-face (in person or via video) to answer customer questions, talk, and address concerns can help you build trust with the customer. This relationship is more difficult to establish by phone or email.
6. Make a deal.
If the business ends, the work is not finished. If the result is a sale, now is the time to facilitate a contract that sets payment terms. You can also work with your company's service organization to ensure that your customer orientation and support are ready. If no sale results, thank the prospect for their time and offer to contact them to further support their needs. Sometimes "no" is just "not now" and you've gained valuable information that will support future sales.
7. Monitor and improve results.
Effective sales teams continuously measure the results of their processes to improve. By regularly measuring and working toward your organization's B2B sales metrics, you and your team can improve productivity and overall performance. Key metrics that B2B sales teams should track include:
Sales Productivity Metrics - Measuring your sales rep's productivity helps pinpoint process inefficiencies that could be costing you sales.
Average Response Time - Every minute counts in B2B sales. The faster you can respond to a lead inquiry, the more likely you are to make a sale, so average lead response time is an important metric to track.
Sales of Sales Leads Qualified Lead Conversion Rate - This measures how many leads obtained through marketing activities become sales. Although often overlooked by marketing organizations, the awareness of sales teams is useful data to support pipeline creation.
Closed, Won Opportunities – This metric indicates the successful end of the sales process. The lead then becomes a customer with a purchase. By tracking how many of all your closed deals lead to a sale (versus closed lost opportunities - how many closed deals didn't lead to a sale), you can understand the overall success rate of your sales process.
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We support business owners, b2b marketing, and sales heads in their quest for qualified leads. Whether you are looking to promote your b2b offerings to IT directors, HR heads, CFOs, CMOs, or the executive suite you can rely on our targeted lead generation and appointment-setting programs to produce the desired outcomes. And on a budget!