B2B, or business to business, is a vital sales method for many businesses. It is a growing and profitable market, too.
But it comes with its own unique requirements and set of tools for selling, marketing, and invoicing customers.
We'll walk you through the most important aspects of each and get you the information you need to make your B2B business grow.
What Is a B2B Company?
A B2B business is a company that sells its products or services to another company. This is in contrast to the B2C model where they sell to individual consumers. These businesses include product manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and more.
B2B Business Model Pros and Cons
The B2B business model has both pros and cons for the business owner and their team.
- Larger orders. B2B sales are high and orders are made in bulk. This means revenue can be higher with fewer sales than B2C businesses.
- Increase conversion. Businesses convert better than individuals. This makes marketing efforts more successful and wastes less money attracting new customers.
- Streamlined structure. Communication between businesses happens regularly so sellers are more informed about their customers’ needs.
- Long buying cycle. B2B consumers take a long time to make purchasing decisions. Multiple stakeholders are involved and need a number of approvals to go forward.
- Limited market. B2B sellers have fewer potential customers and the ones they do have are very important. If even a single customer is unhappy, they can lose a lot of money.
- Difficulty forecasting. Both manufacturers and resellers can run into issues with demand forecasting since B2B has a shorter inventory cycle. This can in turn lead to overestimating demand and leave all parties with dead stock (see dead stock meaning).
The B2B business model is a tried-and-true form of commerce. These businesses are continuing to grow at an exponential rate through the internet, much like their B2C counterparts.
B2B vs. B2C
While B2B companies provide services or products to other businesses, B2C, or "business-to-consumer," companies sell direct to consumer. They’re two separate business models that serve different types of customers.
B2B or B2C: Which Is Better?
Neither the B2B nor B2C business model is inherently better, they both have their own pros and cons. The model that best fits your business is determined by your goals, infrastructure, and industry.
Here are four of the biggest differences:
- Pricing. B2C businesses (see D2C meaning) offer a single tier of pricing for all customers that are only affected by sales or discounts. B2B businesses usually offer multiple levels of discounted prices based on the quantities and frequency of orders.
- Customer service. B2C companies use customer support representatives to answer general questions and help with issues. B2C businesses use account managers who bring in new wholesale customers and regularly push sales and assist with account and order issues.
B2B vs B2C Buying
B2B and B2C consumers behave very differently and their buying processes reflect this.
Here are a few ways they differ:
- Buying cycle time. B2B consumers act more slowly and are better informed about their purchases. This is because their purchases are of a much larger quantity and their own business is greatly affected by their purchases. B2C consumers convert more quickly and are often less informed about product differences.
- Emotional investment. B2C consumers often make emotionally-driven purchasing decisions. They may be moved by advertising to associate your product with happiness, or they may be trying to alleviate some frustration. B2B consumers are much more calculating and driven by numbers.
- Parties involved. B2C consumers are individuals or a small group. They can easily communicate their wants and needs and are much easier to build a relationship with as a business. B2B consumers often involve multiple people and teams in their purchasing decisions. Rapport can still be built, but it will take longer and requires more investment.
Both models are capable of providing a business with a large volume of sales and push product. Once you determine the B2B model is best for your business, you need to learn how to make B2B sales.
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What Is B2B Sales?
B2B sales is a sales model where products or services are sold from one business to another. It is contrasted to B2C sales where a business sells to individual customers.
Why Use B2B Sales?
B2B sales is a business model that can pay massive dividends. Though harder to make than B2C sales, the return is higher and results in establishing relationships with a much higher lifetime value.
Generating B2B Sales Leads
Generating qualified B2B sales leads is vital in growing your business and heading off competition. These leads can be acquired in many ways, from email marketing to cold calls. Pick the strategy that works best for your business and your bottom line.
The B2B Sales Process
The B2B sales process is a set of steps the sales team follows to convert prospects into customers. 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.
A structured approach will minimize the number of mistakes and ensure salespeople are selling your products or services in the same manner.
The 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. Sales methodologies are built around identifying customer needs, establishing the value your business brings, and then communicating both to your target customers.
Making B2B sales takes hard work and dedication, but can lead a business to make strong relationships and create sustainable growth. The best way to make sales leads is with a robust digital marketing strategy.
What Is B2B Marketing?
B2B Marketing used to be done entirely through cold calls and lead buying, but has transformed in the technological era. Digital marketing is now the most common form of advertising and a powerful sales tool.
B2B content marketing is using content to attract an audience, build brand awareness, collect leads, and drive sales. Successful B2B content is designed to be useful, informative, and professional. This content can be blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, and more.
B2B email marketing refers to pushing marketing campaigns to existing or prospective customers using email. Email marketing has the highest click-through and conversion rate of any channel and allows for a lot of personalization. It also has low startup costs and there are many services on the market that allow people with little experience to run campaigns.
Social media is often one of the most difficult marketing tools for B2B companies to use. It can be hard to avoid being boring while promoting your product or service. The key is to focus on your audience's needs and wants. Then, tailor your social media marketing to match while still conveying the value you bring. Social media marketing is a major player in the DTC marketing world.
A B2B marketing strategy is the overall plan a business uses to acquire customers. B2B marketing can be done in many ways to great effect, but there are a few strategies that most B2B businesses should adopt. They need to conduct thorough research, have a user-friendly website, and use paid and organic search engine optimization. These efforts will pay dividends and make the most of their marketing budget.
How To Promote in B2B
Promoting a B2B business can be difficult and requires looking into a variety of marketing channels. Focusing on a few free channels like content marketing, SEO, social media, and referrals are a good place to start. Organically building your marketing can take longer, but also gives you a solid base to work from with less risk.
B2B marketing takes more effort than its B2C counterpart but also has a much higher return. Marketing and sales are only worth investing in if you're able to handle B2B payments.
B2B payments are transactions processed between two businesses for exchanged products or services. B2B payments tend to be for high sums and are often split across months or quarters.
A B2B payment system is the software or program used to process payments. Many come with the ability to hold payments in escrow, check a customer's credit-worthiness, and have integrated reporting. The best, like BlueCart Payment Processing, include the ability to send automated payment reminders, process vendor payments, report on on-time or late payments, collections, and more.
How Payments Work
B2B payments are either received at the point of sale or an invoice is sent to the buyer at a later date. Most B2B businesses send invoice templates monthly and require payment in 30 days. The method and terms of payment vary by business and relationship of the parties involved.
B2B card payments are when a buyer pays in full via a credit card. The buyer then has a variety of options in paying back their credit provider. This is one of the quickest and the second most popular methods of payment.
B2B check payments are the most common form of payment and can be either physical or electronic. These checks are endorsed by the buyer and deposited by the seller into their own bank account. Many banks now offer mobile apps that let you scan checks for quicker depositing.
B2B mobile commerce payments involve using a digital wallet on the buyer's phone to send a payment to the seller's phone. Many businesses fear it is not secure enough to conduct large B2B sales through it.
Electronic payments for B2B include many types of payments and make up the bulk of B2B transactions. Whether ACH, RTP, or even mobile payments, the convenience and security of electronic payments make them popular among B2B wholesale businesses.
The Future of B2B Payments
The future of B2B payments is through the cloud and online payment platforms like BlueCart Payment Processing. These tools continue to grow more secure every day and allow for immediate transmission of funds and access to historical data. It truly is the future of eCommerce growth.
They also allow small businesses to have access to robust financial tools and sell to a larger market with less risk. For wholesale food distributors, the BlueCart Digital Storefront is one of the best eCommerce platforms to increase revenue and reach new customers.
B2B eCommerce Platform
B2B eCommerce platforms are online services that allow B2B businesses to conduct business more easily. B2B headless eCommerce is conducted across many industries and by businesses of all sizes using a variety of platforms.
B2B eCommerce Platform Features
With so many options on the market, it's important to get the best platform for your business. Here are a few features to look for in a B2B eCommerce platform:
- Volume discounts. Look for a platform that lets you make discount tiers based on order quantity to automate the process, like BlueCart.
- Personalized offerings. This allows you to set different prices and feature different products for your customers. This may be by order level, geographic location, or any other qualifier. Many in the food industry use BlueCart specifically for this.
- Easy reordering. B2B customers like to order the same products multiple times. Making it easier to reorder these products will make your customers more satisfied and can lead to more purchases. BlueCart is great at this and even has “standing orders”, which are essentially automated recurring orders.
- Flexible payments. The more options for B2B payments available, the more likely your customers are to convert. Look for a platform that can accommodate a variety of payment options including checks, credit cards, electronic transfers, and invoicing. BlueCart offers these options and more.
B2B eCommerce Solutions
There are many eCommerce software solutions for B2B eCommerce companies to choose from. For food manufacturers, broadline distributors, and wholesalers, the best choice is BlueCart. This all-in-one platform is designed to streamline processes and make selling easy. It lets business owners monitor their product catalogs and sales, manage and fulfill incoming orders, and communicate with customers on the fly.
B2B eCommerce platforms are vital tools in growing your B2B business. Now that you know what to look for, you can find a platform that is robust, but cost-effective to help grow your business. B2B Marketplaces are another viable option for growing your business.
B2B Wholesale Marketplace
A wholesale marketplace is a B2B eCommerce platform that connects wholesale suppliers to wholesale buyers. These marketplaces are growing at an exponential rate and opening new channels of opportunity for small-to-midsize businesses. Most marketplaces also allow sellers to market, sell, invoice, and fulfill orders using a single platform. They're like a wholesale directory on steroids and help you learn how to find vendors and wholesale items to sell.
Most marketplaces also allow sellers to market, sell, invoice, and fulfill orders using a single platform.
The Basic B2B eMarketplaces
There are three basic types of eMarketplaces that each have their own services and structure.
The three types are:
- Supplier-oriented marketplace. This model is also called e-distribution and is noted for having many buyers and few suppliers. It is good for building goodwill and loyal customers. Cisco runs one of the largest of these and sells more than $1 billion worth of network products each year.
- Buyer-oriented marketplace. Also called e-procurement, this model has few buyers and many sellers. In this model sellers list competing products at different prices for buyers to bid on. GE's electronic bidding site, which goes by the name of GE TPN Post, is one of the biggest buyer-oriented marketplaces.
- Intermediary-oriented marketplace. This fast-growing marketplace is called an e-exchange and features many buyers and sellers. It is owned by a third party that connects buyers to sellers for a small fee. It is the ideal solution for small- and medium-sized businesses. BlueCart is a great example of this type of marketplace that connects thousands of wholesale food suppliers and buyers.
Best B2B Marketplace
The best B2B trade marketplace varies based on industry and a business's needs. The key is to find a site that offers the tools you need to make informed decisions. You also want to make sure the user base is large enough to connect you with the best buyers and sellers. Vertical marketplaces are a great place to start.
For food wholesalers and those in the restaurant industry, the best B2B online marketplace is BlueCart. It's an all-in-one solution that lets sellers have control over every aspect of their sales.
You, Me, and B2B
B2B businesses are a major part of the world economy and are responsible for billions of dollars of sales each year. Running a successful one requires understanding B2B sales and marketing funnels, ecommerce platforms, and payment systems. Using the information we've shared above, you should have the tools you need to make your business grow.
Once you have all that under your belt, make sure to invest in quality eCommerce packaging and a fast eCommerce shipping team to ensure your customers get their products safely and quickly.