In the next few years, B2B sales from eCommerce companies will likely reach close to two trillion dollars. As this industry becomes increasingly larger, the industry itself is continuously changing. Many businesses want to reach success with B2B sales strategies but don’t know where to start.
In this guide, we’ll explore what B2B sales are, the types of B2B sales out there, the differences between B2B and B2C sales, and strategies businesses can use for success. Let’s start by breaking down what B2B sales mean.
What Is B2B Sales?
If you’re wondering, “What is B2B sales?” you’re in luck. The concept of B2B sales is quite simple.
B2B sales or Business-to-Business sales are products or services that are directly marketed to and sold to other companies. The client of a B2B business is always another business, rather than a consumer. B2B sales are often compared to B2C or Business-to-Consumer sales, and the two concepts are very different from one another. We’ll explore that a little bit later in this guide.
Types Of B2B Sales
Now that we understand what B2B sales are, it’s time to dive into the different types of B2B sales out there. Depending on the specific business model or sales item a company sells, a B2B company will be either a supply sales company, a wholesale company, or a software or service company.
Supply B2B Sales
This type of B2B sales involves selling physical goods that other businesses need to operate. Such supplies can include staff uniforms, heavy equipment, machinery, parts, office supplies, etc.
Many B2B supply sales companies will operate in a similar fashion to B2C companies, but the number of items sold and the need for sales authorization set them apart from B2C companies. Supply sales involve buying items in bulk and the need to have leader authorization before a purchase can be made on behalf of the company. They are similar to wholesale companies, though wholesale companies sell a much larger volume of goods.
Wholesale and Distribution Sales
Wholesalers and distributors sell goods to other companies as supply sales companies would. However, they only sell important manufacturing materials and retail items. Some common examples of wholesale and distribution companies include food wholesalers, clothing distributors, plastic material wholesalers, and fabric distributors.
Service or Software Sales
This common type of B2B sales involves selling a service, rather than a consumable good. Such companies will sell their services as flat fees for software or as ongoing subscriptions. Software as Service companies are a great example of this type of B2B sale company, as they sell useful software or services to companies that don’t have in-house POS systems, security systems, collaboration platforms, etc.
Difference Between B2B And B2C Sales
The difference between B2B and B2C is huge, and the two concepts are almost polar opposites.
B2B companies only sell goods or services to other companies, organizations, or firms. B2C companies only sell goods or services to consumers. B2C companies don’t usually sell in bulk, so the scope of their companies are much smaller compared to B2B companies, as they only need to worry about a consumer’s purchasing power. Common types of B2C companies are online clothing stores, supermarkets, Etsy shops, etc. It’s also worth noting that the B2B industry is much larger than the B2C industry and is experiencing growth.
There are a number of reasons why B2B and B2C sales are so vastly different. B2B sales involve significantly heftier sales cycles, a lot of stakeholders involved, and smarter buyers that don’t buy items on a whim.
How B2B Sales Has Changed? The B2B Sales Process Flowchart
Back in the day, the widely accepted B2B sales process was substantially less complex. If a buyer needed a product or good, they would simply find a vendor, talk to one of their sales reps, and then hold a meeting with management or decision-makers to determine if the price and need for the product was balanced. After that, the deal would be made. Vendors were able to pull in many leads through direct marketing.
However, this wasn’t sustainable. The onset of the internet made B2B sales so much more complex. The intersection of marketing and sales combined. Today’s marketing and sales teams in B2B companies rely on each other in order to generate leads and close deals.
Today, the B2B sales process flowchart looks like this:
- A business experiences a pain point and recognizes that a solution is needed.
- Employees of that company start searching for ideas and strategies to solve that problem.
- Once a solution is found, the business will start listing out potential options to look into.
- The company will ask their close network for recommendations. For small businesses, the business owner will consult with their peers and other business owners for recommendations for vendors. They will also heavily research places around the internet where people talk about this specific need.
- Once enough information is pulled together, the business will make a decision on what to buy and where to buy it.
- If a business isn’t reached out to by a B2B company, they will likely approach a potential vendor that they were recommended.
Thus, B2B buyers have way more control than they used to. Securing stable leads and building the right marketing techniques to reach these buyers is very difficult. No longer is the buyer journey an easy, straight line. Now, it is omnichannel, multi-level, and touchpoints are all over the place.
Luckily, there’s something B2B companies can do to fight this problem. Now that we understand how B2B sales have changed and the B2B sales process flowchart, it’s time to look into some effective B2B sales strategies.
B2B Sales Strategies and Techniques
There are many different B2B sales strategies out there, but these three take the cake in terms of success.
B2B Appointment Setting Services
B2B appointment setting is a type of sales development strategy that is proven effective. Cold calling is still a great way to maintain relationships with business clients. B2B appointment setting involves training representatives, following up with established customers, and maintaining a good relationship with qualified or valuable leads.
For B2B companies who don’t have the resources to hire an in-house team, there are B2B lead generation companies out there that offer B2B cold calling services. Outsourcing one’s B2B cold calling is one of the most excellent B2B sales strategies out there. Just keep in mind that cold calling should be done in a way to nurture leads and maintain customer relationships, rather than aggressively pushing sales.
Content Is King
A majority of very successful B2B marketing specialists will use a good content marketing strategy. It certainly makes sense why this approach is so good. Buyers researching solutions on the internet and consuming content is a major part of the B2B sales process. Good B2B marketers will create the content that this target market is consuming.
This is a tricky thing to do, though. You can’t just curate random content about your company employees’ lives or irrelevant information. You need to create valuable content that solves buyer problems and leads them to give your business credibility and trust.
Give Social Selling A Shot
One common but effective B2B sales strategy is to invest in social selling. This is the best way to build a good relationship with your customers and target market. It is also a great way to close sales before the competition can swoop in or even see what’s happening.
Buyers want to make quick decisions when finding a B2B vendor. It’s your company’s responsibility to be there as early on in the customer journey as possible to close a sale. Consider using social media marketing and cold calling to improve your social selling strategy. Websites like LinkedIn are absolutely perfect for this. Tons of professional business owners are on the platform, and they’re using it to ask their colleagues for advice on a new B2B vendor. You can implement this easily by dedicating a half-hour or whole hour per working day to going on LinkedIn and having your sales reps conduct research and attempt to connect with other professionals.
Encourage More Referrals From Your Happy Customers
One of the best B2B sales techniques out there involves getting your existing customers involved. If you are part of an established B2B company, you could focus on encouraging your happy, satisfied clientele to refer your business to other companies or entrepreneurs who need to buy your specific B2B solution.
Referrals are incredibly effective. Your target market, business owners, are contacting their fellow business owners and professional colleagues to find the best possible vendor for your needs. One way to ensure that your business name comes out of your customer’s mouth is to simply ask for referrals. You’d be surprised by how willing happy customers are to provide referrals for products or services they love. This is quite an untapped resource, too. Many sales reps and marketing pros at B2B companies simply don’t ask because they’re worried they’ll put the customer off. You can simply slip the question in when following up on the customer in question.
Use Account-Focused Sales
This B2B sales strategy involves approaching B2B sales through the alignment of marketing and sales. We mentioned earlier how deeply these two departments are intertwined in B2B sales, so a more account-based sales approach is necessary. Have your teams focus on targeting specific accounts and have your teams work closely with each other. Both sales and marketing need to decide who their key buyers are, but more so need to identify the specific people from those companies who have the ability to make a purchase decision.
This can be achieved through a few different methods. One method would be a good cold calling campaign. Another would be multiple whole marketing campaigns that are specifically tailored to push valuable leads to their sales department.
To summarize, B2B involves the selling of goods and services directly to businesses. There are several types of B2B sales, including supply sales, wholesale sales, and software or service sales. The B2B sales process has changed a lot since the onset of the internet, moving from a simple straight line to a vastly more complex sales funnel. Our list of B2B sales strategies and B2B sales techniques are worth implementing into your business process to ensure your company can increase its B2B sales.