Business development or sales can be classified into 2 broad categories: B2B and B2C. Although some business models include D2C (direct to customer) or B2B2C, the aforementioned two are the most common. B2B sales and B2C sales have more differences than similarities, though the ultimate goal in both models is business development.
Whether you are an industry veteran or a newbie looking to gain some knowledge, you have landed at the right spot. In this article, you will learn the fundamentals of business to business sales and how you can put them to practice. Selling to b2b customers can be a tough proposition and many times, it can feel almost an impossible task.
The dynamics of sales has changed as the salesperson is no longer the main element of the buying process. Today, customers have become much aware and do their own research to buy a product of their choice without any external influence. To make the process easier and help salespersons sign new deals, we present the dynamics of contemporary b2b sales. But, before moving ahead, let’s take a look at what exactly is the meaning of b2b sales.
B2B sales meaning
B2B sales (business to business sales) is the process of selling product(s) and/or service(s) by one business to another. This is different from B2C, where a business or salesperson sells to consumers.
Whereas in B2C, a sales professional sells a product and/or service(s) directly to a consumer. Now with the advent of eCommerce, a segment called D2C came into existence. D2C, direct-to-customer, refers to activity where manufacturers can sell directly to consumers via an eCommerce website.
It is a much more complex process that the B2C (business to consumer) sales. The B2B salespeople have to sell the products and services to professional buyers who know how to get the best deals for their companies. Further, B2B salespeople also have to pitch to the key decision-makers, which might take a lot of convincing, especially if they are in numbers.
The B2B sales process typically consists of two types of sales. The first type basically consists of selling products that help meet the requirements of running a business. This would include regular office equipment or supplies. Quite similar to the B2C process, the customer here would have a lengthier buying process as there would be a requirement of getting the necessary approvals from the authority. It would be a long process if the product or service is expensive and the number of people involved is more.
The second type of B2B sales process involves selling products that will be used in the manufacturing process of a product at the buyer’s end. An example of this would be the supply of fruits and vegetables as raw material to restaurants. The supply chain here would be a wholesaler selling fruits and vegetables to restaurants that would use them and sell delicacies at a higher rate. B2B sales usually are very challenging than B2C sales as the cost of products and services involved is here is significantly higher. This also helps B2B sales professionals earn more than their B2B counterparts as the accounts are bigger and so is the commission.
How has B2B sales changed in recent years?
In the recent past, a B2B sale was a relatively easier process. The buyers would simply reach out to the seller whose salesperson would educate buyers and present them with the best solutions suiting their requirements. Upon getting convinced, the buyer would simply purchase the product. In a very straightforward process, the marketing teams would fill the sales funnel with leads, which would then be acted upon by sales teams by converting leads and pushing them down the funnel into a sale.
However, with the advent of technology, today, the times have changed and people have too many options to chose from. This has made life tough for B2B salespersons. When buyers identify their problem, they will first research online about to discover possible solutions. They might read recommendations online, reach out to their friends, search for solutions on forums and social media, etc. Further, they might also look for offers and discounts while searching for product and services as their solutions. Their buying decision will most likely be made only after following all these steps. Lastly, they would reach out to the buyer to complete the sale.
This has led also to businesses adopting new ways to purchase products and services. Research, in terms of online, recommendations, peer reviews, Google search, is a vital part of their decision-making process. Buyers have a lot more options in terms of free trials, forums, websites, social media, etc. This makes for a significant part of the buying process which is being carried out without the involvement of a salesperson. This has changed the roles of marketing and sales teams and the former has now a wider role to play in the sales process. Sales teams are now mostly required towards the last stage of the sales process in terms of helping the buyer make the purchase. It brings along with many challenges that the present-day B2B sales teams face.
The emergence of modern-day buyers
The advent of digital technology and changing demographics has led to many younger professionals occupy the prime position in the decision-making process at many businesses. These younger professionals, between the age group of 18 and 35, have more inclination to use digital technologies when they have to make a purchase. They will conduct the research themselves and use the wealth of online knowledge to make their life easier. More buyers are shifting to conducting online research before making a purchase, a trend which will only grow in the coming years.
Traits of modern-day buyers
- Lack of connect with sales and marketing messages
Buyers these days dedicate more time to conduct online research rather than focusing on salespersons because they concentrate on spreading their sales agenda instead of solving the genuine problem of the buyer. The main aim of most salespersons is to focus their time on selling rather than helping the buyer in the purchase process. Salespersons who genuinely listen to the needs of the buyer and help them find a solution receive better responses.
Social selling is crucial and it can help sales teams perform much better in the purchase process as it can meet the specific demands of the buyers. The buying process has already become longer in recent years due to a number of tools at the disposal of a buyer. The huge amount of online information and involvement of more people in the process has led to this change. Connecting with buyers on a personal level and solving their genuine problem will be essential to move quickly with making sales.
- Emphasis on peer recommendations
Google has very much simplified everyone’s life and there is a wealth of information about anything and everything. Social media and other review portals contribute a lot in influencing the mind of a buyer. Word-of-mouth still remains a powerful recommendation tool and can easily override other factors like online reviews.
- Awareness about risks
The modern-day buyers are well aware of the risks associated with making a wrong purchase decision. They want to avoid post-purchase dissatisfaction by using several recommendation sources at their disposal. They also have this fear that they might miss out on other sellers who would give them better offers. The B2B buyers have much more responsibilities and need to keep several things in mind like professional credibility, financial investments, etc. when making a purchase.
4 ways to strategize B2B sales techniques
Strategizing a sales approach is vital irrespective of how good effective the product or service is. The difference between making or missing out on a sale could be the number of decision-makers you manage to impress in the shortest time. This can be done through an effective marketing strategy. You can follow these B2B sales techniques to get your sales strategy right.
- Study your buyers
Studying and deeply understanding the profile of your buyers is very important because not every prospect is a good prospect. Bad prospects will not convert and you could end up losing your valuable time chasing them. It can’t be very time-consuming to research your prospects, especially if you know these vital points to keep in mind while researching them.
- Understand their background
- Read their vision, mission and values
- How large is the scale of operations
- What value do they offer
- Identify the decision-makers
Figuring out the key decision-makers will save a lot of your time and it’s not very difficult to find this information. A simple search on the prospect’s website will help you figure this out. Make sure to approach people who have been around for a while instead of newbies as they won’t have much influence on the decision-making process.
- Learn their problematic areas
You can study their existing issues and propose solutions that will genuinely solve their problems. If they are using some service currently which is not working, you can propose better alternatives.
- Focus on building relationships
The B2B sales process is longer and building trustable relationships will be important for success. A good relationship will allow your customer to open about other areas of their business and also recommend your services to others.
- Make effective use of digital tools
Since buyers today use the Internet to research and aid their buying decision, it makes much sense to have a solid presence on digital media. You can start off with building an effective website, engaging social media presence, and having a content and email marketing strategy in place.
5 valuable B2B sales software
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Campaign Monitor
Business to business sales process is a complex task and it will only become difficult due to the involvement of many decision-makers, availability of a lot of online information for buyers, etc. However, you can use these B2B sales techniques to effectively design your B2B sales strategy and win customers.