Are you looking into B2B sales, but don't know where to start?
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Read on to learn how the B2B sales model works, why you should adopt it, and get some tips to help you get your sales growing fast.
What Does B2B Sales Mean? B2B Sales Definition
B2B sales is a sales model where products or services are sold from one business to another. It is contrasted to B2C or D2C sales (see D2C meaning) where a business sells to individual customers.
B2B vs B2C Sales
B2B and B2C sales can both drive profits for a business, but there are some important differences between B2B vs. B2C sales.
Here are a few:
- Size of customer base. Direct to consumer brands can target many segments and sub-segments of the market to drive sales. B2B businesses are far more limited and must be much more focused in their efforts. businesses are less affected than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
- Required sales knowledge. Selling to businesses requires a much more robust knowledge of your products or services than selling to individual consumers. Business customers are also less forgiving of mistakes as their own revenue is affected.
- Relationship length. B2C relationships often last only as long as a single sale. This isn't too concerning since the audience is so large. B2B relationships are more long-term and require a mutual investment to optimize what the parties get from each other.
- Decision-making. Direct to consumer customers are quick to make purchasing decisions. They often require little information before buying and don't need to run the purchase by anyone else.
Why B2B Sales?
B2B sales is a business model that can pay massive dividends. Though seen as harder to make than B2C sales, the return is higher and results in establishing relationships with a much higher lifetime value.
B2B Sales Leads
B2B Sales leads are prospective customers that your business contacts to sell products or services to. B2B leads are much more difficult to generate and convert than B2C leads, but are also more valuable.
B2B Sales Lead Generation
Generating qualified B2B sales leads is vital in growing your business and heading off competition. These leads can be acquired in many ways. Pick the strategy that works best for your business and your bottom line.
B2B Lead Generation Strategies:
- Use email prospecting. Sending cold emails to a list of prospects is an easy, low effort technique that works to increase eCommerce sales. Just make sure to personalize the emails, so they don’t seem like you’re sending them in bulk.
- Set up marketing automation. Inbound and outbound automation software can easily segment leads to optimize conversion. Investing in this software can help optimize your sales funnel. Automation is the future of eCommerce growth and there are plenty of options for eCommerce software to get started in your own business.
- Use live chat. Live chat tools can easily be integrated into your site to let your prospective customers engage with you immediately. Studies even show that more than 40% of customers prefer this method of contact.
- Get online reviews. B2B customers often rely on word-of-mouth and reviews to determine whether they should work with another company. Ask your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews wherever they can and you'll have free, effective lead generation.
- Use Google Ads. Paid advertising with Google is one of the most effective B2B marketing (see what is B2B marketing) tools in the modern world. You can use keyword volume and intent to target the most qualified leads.
- Invest in retargeting. Retargeting shows ads for your site to people who have already visited it. This allows you to convert those who were on the fence or remind existing customers to purchase again.
- Build SEO value. Along with paid advertising, search engine optimization lets people discover your website from their Google searches. Building SEO is an effective way to build your website's value and make the most out of Google's market dominance. You have to do this yourself if you use a headless eCommerce solution, but an online marketplace is a good choice for those who don't have the bandwidth.
- Write eBooks. eBooks show prospects that you are knowledgeable and capable of delivering quality content. They also get you leads that are bottom-of-funnel and more likely to convert.
- Start a referral program. Referrals are much more likely to convert than other leads since they trust the person who recommended your business. If you reward your existing customers for referrals, they're more likely to send qualified leads your way.
- Build network. Attend industry events, add new friends and business through LinkedIn, or just hand out your business card. If you are constantly networking, you're constantly marketing and building leads. This is particularly important is you're looking into how to become a wholesaler. Building relationships can help you learn how to find vendors and get you access to new wholesale items to sell.
B2B Sales Funnel
The B2B sales funnel is a marketing and sales tool that shows the entire journey your customers go through. This funnel can be modified to match your customers, but it is usually built around the same four steps.
These are the sales funnel steps:
- Contact. This is the point your customer first comes into contact with your business. It could be from prospecting, advertising, cold calls, etc.
- Qualification. Here, you determine whether the prospective client is serious and worth pursuing. Many top-of-funnel leads fall off at this stage.
- Meeting. This can be a phone call, product demonstration, in-person meeting, or something else. The key is that you build the relationship here.
- Closing. Finally, a purchase agreement or contract is established and you've closed the deal.
B2B Sales Process
The B2B sales process is a set of steps the sales team follows to convert prospects into customers. Essentially, it's how your company operates to move leads through the sales funnel. This process is different for every company, but should be a rigid framework for all salespeople to follow.
This structured approach will minimize the number of mistakes and ensure all salespeople are selling your products or services in the same manner.
B2B Sales Methodology
A sales methodology is a set of rules that define how a business sells products or services to its customers. This is not the same as the sales process which is focused on the steps in the sales process. Most sales methodologies are built around identifying customer needs, establishing the value your business brings, and then communicating both to your target customers.
B2B and B2C Sales Process
Though B2B and B2C customers act quite differently, the sales processes are similar. Both involve establishing customer needs, showing your product or service's value, informing the customer, and converting the customer. The main difference is that the B2B sale takes much longer to make and requires more relationship building.
Challenges in B2B Sales
Since B2B sales is much more complex than B2C sales, it comes with some challenges to overcome.
Here are five B2B sales challenges:
- Finding qualified leads. Finding leads is always a challenge for salespeople and B2B leads are no different. One good lead is worth more than 100 bad leads, so focus on quality rather than quantity in your lead generation efforts.
- Lead drop off. There are many places in the sales funnel that leads may drop off. They may never show up for a meeting or not like the demo. The key is to notice any trends where drop offs happen most often and fix any issues.
- Long decision process. Since B2B customers require more information and involve more people in their decisions, closing can take a long time. Don't get discouraged, and see what you can do to help speed the process up.
- Customer objections. Rejection, questions, and challenges all can and do come up in the sales process. Don't let them affect your ability to make sales. Train your salespeople on how to handle rejection and how to overcome objections.
- Competitor differentiation. The B2B market is rife with competitors all fighting over the same customers. Make sure you know what makes your business different from others and use that as a sales tool. Using a B2B online marketplace can help get you connections and set you apart.
B2B Sales Strategy
B2B sales rely on following a solid sales strategy. Like the sales process and methodology, this is unique to your business but built around common themes. The main theme is that you need to convince your prospects to become customers. This may be done through identifying market needs, establishing contact with multiple decision-makers, or using social media.
B2B Sales Cycle
The B2B sales cycle is the process your salespeople go through to build relationships and make sales.
These are the eight steps in the B2B sales cycle:
- Prospect. The first step is to find businesses to work with. Whether you use paid or organic SEO, email marketing, or cold calls it's all about finding qualified leads.
- Research. Once you have your list of prospects, you need to understand their needs and how you can fill them. This requires researching each company by looking through their social media, press releases, and more.
- Connect. This is the first point of contact between the salesperson and the customer. It sets the stage for all steps after.
- Present. Once their foot is in the door, the salesperson needs to demonstrate how your products or services would benefit the prospect and their company. This is also a great time to share a line sheet with the prospective customer.
- Answer. Prospects often have questions or concerns. A salesperson needs to be ready to answer any objections and smooth the way to a sale.
- Close. Once the customer is satisfied, it's time to close. They may need another demonstration or include new decision-makers, but let them take the time they need to make the deal. You may also try cross selling at this step.
- Deliver. Sales don't end at close, you need to provide the customer with the products or services they paid for. Fast and effective delivery is vital if you want the relationship to continue.
- Refer. The final step is for your salespeople to ensure the customer is satisfied and as for reviews and referrals. This way your business can continue to grow.
B2B Sales Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is a necessity for most businesses as our world becomes more technological, and B2B sales is no different.
The era of phone calls and door-to-door sales is over.
Shifting to a digital-first sales program will allow you to reach a much larger audience and gain more insight into demand cycles and trends.
It's Got to Be B2B
Making B2B sales takes hard work and dedication, but can lead a business to make strong relationships and create sustainable growth. with the information above, you're well on your way towards growing B2B sales. Once you master sales, you need to make sure you have the right B2B eCommerce platform and B2B payments for your customers and you know how to issue net 30 invoices.
Now, make sure to look at the inventory control methods available so you can fulfill your customers' orders with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions About B2B Meaning
Running a B2B business requires significant industry knowledge. To get a better understanding of the industry, here are a few frequently asked questions and answers:
What are the four types of B2B selling?
The four groups that engage with B2B sellers are governments, institutions, resellers, and producers. Business owners can develop long-term sales relationships with one or more of these groups. That said, it’s important to assess which is the best fit for your business.
Business to government selling, or B2G, is coincidentally the largest business sales market out there. The government purchases products and services from all kinds of industries, from paper and batteries to private security and defense services.
Institutions like churches and schools also purchase large amounts of business goods and services. Toilet paper, office supplies, printers, and hardware are just a few examples of items that are purchased in mass quantities.
Resellers take products one business has produced and sell them in a different market. Producers are companies that buy materials or parts from one or more businesses and use them to complete a new product.
Who are B2B buyers?
A B2B buyer is someone who purchases goods on behalf of a for-profit or non-profit company. Their responsibilities include finding the most valuable product at the lowest possible cost, within the time constraints of the project at hand.
A B2B buyer can be responsible for purchasing all kinds of goods, from office materials like paper and ink to large-scale construction needs, like steel, lumber, and nails. It all depends on the company a buyer works for and what industry they’re in.
B2B buyers may go by different titles in various niches, such as purchaser or resource manager. A B2B buyer typically works with an account executive or sales representative at the company offering the business goods or services.
What influences B2B buying behaviour?
There are four driving factors that influence B2B buying behavior: the power of early influence, loss aversion, decision paralysis, and the status quo bias.
The power of early influence means the company that is first to reach a decision maker with their offer is typically the most successful. Humans see the first option available to them as easier and more appealing, and an easy choice makes it much simpler to move forward.
Loss aversion refers to humans’ desire for the choices they make to produce a favorable outcome. Buyers want to know that their budget will be used to get the result they want.
Decision paralysis describes the mental overwhelm that comes with reviewing many options at once. When you’re looking for a bag of chips at the grocery store, it sounds easy enough until you get to the chip aisle. Suddenly you’re faced with 10+ chip brands, and it becomes much harder to choose.
The status quo bias refers to how humans want to keep things the same whenever possible. If a business sources lumber from one company but that company goes out of business, the business needs to find a new lumber supplier. However, they’re unlikely to want anything else to change.