What is B2B Sales? A Comprehensive Guide with Strategies and Tips for Sales Reps

10
Min
Created On:
April 19, 2023
Updated On:
April 15, 2024
Sales in B2B Sector

Did you know that B2B e-Commerce sales are likely to reach $1.8 trillion by the end of this year? 

With the line between inside selling and outside selling getting thinner, B2B companies are reframing their sales strategies to be in line with the new technologies and the new prospect-business relationship dynamics. 

Although it sounds lucrative, B2B selling introduces new challenges everyday – average sales cycles are longer (ranging up to 3 months), multiple decision-makers for a sale, and tireless support & follow-ups. 

As more and more B2B companies are shifting to remote working, B2B sales are more relevant than ever. In this blog post, learn everything from what is B2B sales and the basics of the B2B sales process to creating the perfect B2B selling strategy and effective tips for B2B sales reps. 

Let’s dive in. 

What is B2B Sales? 

B2B represents a situation where two separate business entities transact, communicate, or collaborate. Business-to-business sales or B2B sales is the activity of selling service, product, or SaaS to other business entities. 

This business model is essentially different from the B2C or business-to-consumer model where businesses try to sell services or products directly to consumers. 

There are several critical points in B2B sales. It is way more complex than B2C sales, as it includes lead generation, cold emailing, sales email cadence, researching ideal customer profile and buyer personas, booking meetings, conducting demos, etc. 

Although the sales cycle is longer and more complex compared to a B2C sales cycle, B2B sales result in higher-value sales and greater revenue.  

Here are a few common B2B sales examples

  • Businesses offering software services and tools such as CRM, cold emailing tools, etc., to other businesses. 
  • Businesses that sell raw materials to manufacturers. 
  • Companies that offer professional services, e.g., market research, cost accounting, etc. 
Watch this video on AI + Sales = Profits: In Conversation with Chris from HyperspectAI. Watch Now!

What’s the Difference Between B2B Sales and B2C Sales?

As you can understand, the basic difference between B2B sales and B2C sales is their target customers. While B2C companies consider the mass (or a segment of it) as their customers, B2B companies sell their products/services only to other businesses. 

The other major differences between B2B and B2C sales are: 

  • Global Market: The global B2B sales market is valued at US$ 17.9 trillion, which is approximately 5 times higher than the global B2C sales market (US$ 3.77 trillion)
  • Pricing: B2B services/products usually have higher pricing points than B2C products. 
  • Sales Cycle: Due to the complex selling process, B2B sales cycles are more complex and longer than B2C sales cycles. 
  • Decision Making: B2B sales decisions directly influence a company’s performance, so the purchasing decision goes through a series of approvals before finalizing. In case of B2C sales, individual consumers make purchase decisions. 
  • Educated Buyers: B2B buyers are more educated and extremely selective about their buying decisions. B2B sales reps need to add value constantly and follow-up with highly-personalized messages to make a sale. 
Difference between B2B and B2C Sales
Source

Who is a B2B Sales Representative? 

A B2B sales representative is a professional who is responsible for engaging and nurturing corporate policymakers to persuade them into buying a B2B service or product. 

The role of a B2B sales rep is fundamentally different from a B2C sales representative. B2C sales reps usually follow their organizational sales playbook to align a customer into the B2B sales process. But a B2B customer or corporate buyer tends to research products or services even before contacting a sales rep. 

A B2B sales representative is responsible for end-to-end B2B sales funnel management. Some of their responsibilities are: 

  • Conducting industry-specific research to find right prospecting opportunities
  • Identifying pain points and offering tailored solutions
  • Planning and executing cold emails and cold calls
  • Conducting product/service demo and handling prospect queries, objections, and rejections
  • Relationship management with multiple decision-makers
  • Closing sales deals

If sales teams don’t have account managers, B2B sales reps have to go through the entire sales cycle to engage potential customers – from prospecting and nurturing to closing successful deals. 

B2B Outside Sales Reps Vs. B2B Inside Sales Reps: Key Differences

B2B outside sales reps operate from outside the office, usually meeting clients and prospects in person and attending meetings and seminars. On the other hand, inside sales reps engage with prospects and clients (cold calling, emailing, or webinars) remotely.

Naturally, inside sales reps close deals without even meeting the clients. However, outside sales reps usually make a sale after a face-to-face meeting with a prospect. 

Inside sales reps are adept to CRMs, social media channels, emails, etc. And outside sales reps possess in-person communication skills and a deeper understanding of the product/service. 

What is a B2B Sales Funnel? 

A B2B sales funnel represents a buyer’s journey through the sales process. In contrast to the B2B sales process, a sales funnel is a visual representation of a buyer's likelihood of making a purchase. It takes into account various factors for purchase decision making such as a buyer’s previous purchase history and the undergoing emotional and cognitive phases.  

B2B sales funnels usually contain 4-7 steps depending on the product/service they are selling. Here’s an example of a 5-step B2B sales funnel: 

  • Awareness
  • Interest 
  • Evaluation 
  • Engagement 
  • Purchase

Modern B2B Sales Techniques that Drive Higher Sales Figures

Too many sales enablement options make a B2B sales cycle harder than a B2C sales cycle. Should you run PPC ads or focus on email marketing, or should you create videos or research whitepapers? 

The overwhelming sales strategies and tactics make it difficult for a sales rep to identify the right sales techniques to convert customers. Keeping buyer-centric sales strategies in mind, here are the most effective B2B sales techniques to drive more conversions: 

1. Account-Based Sales with Aligned Sales and Marketing Efforts

Isolated B2B sales teams are obsolete and irrelevant in today’s scenario. As the task of bringing a prospect into the sales funnel and moving them through it requires both sales and marketing efforts, account-based sales is a perfect solution for B2B sales representatives. 

This way, the marketing team and sales team collaborate to decide on who the decision-makers are in a prospect company and chalk out a personalized solution to their pain points at the beginning of a B2B buyer’s journey. 

A DemandBase case study on DocuSign shows that ABS or account-based sales techniques increased their sales pipeline by 22%. It also helped them triple their click-through rates and reduce bounce rates. 

2. Create Compelling Content to Persuade Sales

According to Contenmarketinginstitute.com, 69% successful B2B marketers have a clear-defined content marketing strategy. 

You must be thinking why are we stressing on content so much. Well, B2B buyers consume 13 content pieces on an average before deciding on the vendor.  

Source

So, it's very important to create an actionable content marketing strategy to drive sales. Content bridges the gap and builds a trusted relationship between a buyer and a seller.

So, what content works for B2B clients? 

Effective content for B2B audiences is not just about sharing happy employee stories. It’s more about offering value and building trust, authority, and connection through problem-solving content. 

Here are the steps you need to follow to create fool-proof B2B content marketing strategy: 

  • Set clear goals of the marketing effort
  • Find out the target audiences and their pain points
  • Perform content audit to find content gaps
  • Do keyword research and break it down into pillars and clusters
  • Research content distribution channels
  • Create content, distribute, and run paid ads

Videos, webinars, long-form guides, case studies, whitepapers, podcasts, LinkedIn outreach works best for B2B audiences. 

3. Focus on Social Selling

Social selling is the coolest way to convert cold leads into brand enthusiasts and close deals faster.  A recent study has shown that depending on conference and webinar lists to search for new leads is decreasing ROI for businesses. 

It means leads are making buying decisions before the sales rep reaches them. The only way out is reaching leads at an early state of their buying journey. 

In fact, social selling on LinkedIn is the best solution for B2B sales representatives. According to a LinkedIn data, 78% of social sellers outperform their peers who don’t use social media platforms. 

B2b SOCIAL SELLING FUNNEL

Challenges in B2B Sales

As we’ve already discussed, B2B sales is way more complex than B2C sales as it requires a longer time to move a company through the sales funnel. Here are some of the challenges B2B sales reps face: 

  • Misalignment of sales and marketing teams
  • Stagnant market/limited potential customers
  • Deficiencies and gaps in sales reps training
  • Slower technology adaptation
  • Outdated sales methods and culture

B2B is a highly volatile and economically uncertain industry. In today’s time (more so after the pandemic), the most alarming challenge to a business is its sales team’s efficiency. Sales reps need to update themselves with new challenges in their own field and introduce new technologies to stay one step ahead of their competitors. 

B2B Sales Tips for Sales Reps to Close Successful Deals

1. Personalize your marketing and communication efforts with customers. For example, use Smartlead to send personalized emails. 

2. Constant sales training and skill upgradation because B2B buyers prefer engaging with well-informed sales reps. 

3. Gain trust, build rapport, and maintain a healthy communication with your prospective clients. Improve your active listening and critical thinking skills. 

4. Focus on omni-channel outreach, e.g., email, social media, phone calls, events, webinars,  and in-person meetings. 

5. Do not limit yourself to just sales enablement tools and CRM. bring in new tools and embrace sales engagement platforms. 

6. Leverage positive feedback. A B2B trusts a positive response from a fellow business more than the sales rep’s claims. Include your clients’ positive feedback in your sales playbook. 

7. Align both marketing and sales teams to drive sales. 

Smartlead: The Ultimate B2B Sales Engagement Tool to Escalate Sales

Smartlead is an AI-powered lead generation and sales engagement tool. As B2B selling requires a few extra steps than B2C, and purchase decision requires multiple decision-makers, it’s important to generate multiple leads and nurture them to establish a trusted communication between the business and buyers. 

Smartlead Homepage

That’s where Smartlead’s outreach features come in handy. This omnichannel tool helps you create seamless outreach with emails and LinkedIn activities. Smartlead lets you send unlimited cold emails from unlimited sender accounts and create an entire follow-up process. 

With Smartlead, you get: 

  • Unlimited sender accounts
  • Automated email warmup 
  • A/B testing 
  • Subsequences
  • Master inbox
  • Dedicated IP servers for campaigns
  • LinkedIn activities 
  • Full whitelabel experience
  • On-time reporting and data analytics

Conclusion

In one way or another, B2B sales has changed its courses in recent years dramatically. Sales enablement platforms and other sales technologies have become common for all B2B businesses. Buyers have more options than ever, they look for innovations, and expect personalized solutions catering to their needs. The only way to compete and surpass your competitor is by offering unique solutions, excellent marketing and sales efforts. 

However, the basics of B2B selling remains the same: 

  • Identifying the right prospects
  • Building strong rapport with the decision-makers
  • Offering advice and constant support

So, focus on adapting new technology and personalized selling to always stay one step ahead of your competitors. 

FAQs

1. How do you make a B2B sale? 

A successful B2B sale typically goes through 4-7 steps. First, you conduct market research to identify your target audience and create an ideal buyer persona. Then you map the buyer’s journey, qualify leads by nurturing campaigns, and add value to their needs. The next step is meeting (virtual/face-to-face) bookings or demo calls followed by closing a deal. 

2. What is the future of B2B sales?

Hybrid selling is the future of B2B sales. As b2B decision makers are leaning on omnichannel communication and the world is moving towards a remote work setting, the future of B2B sales lies in hybrid selling models. It includes omnichannel outreach, customer-first approach, and remote customer support settings. 

3. What is the role of a B2B sales representative?

A B2B sales representative plays a crucial role in driving business-to-business sale. Their primary responsibility is to find and nurture relationships with leads, understanding their needs, and aligning product or service offerings accordingly. Sales reps utilize persuasive communication skills to guide prospects through the buying process, addressing concerns, and providing tailored solutions. In essence, their goal is to close deals, meet revenue targets, and contribute to the overall growth of the business.

4. What is the meaning of "B2B Sales"?

B2B sales, or business-to-business sales, refers to transactions where one business sells products or services to another. Unlike B2C (business-to-consumer) transactions, B2B sales involve businesses serving as both buyers and sellers. This dynamic occurs across various industries that facilitates the exchange of goods or services on a larger scale.

5. How can I improve my B2B sales skills?

Elevate your B2B sales skills by embracing continuous learning. Stay updated on industry trends, refine your product knowledge, and invest in effective communication training. Cultivate a deep understanding of your clients' needs, enabling you to tailor solutions precisely. Embrace technology, leverage CRM tools, and harness data for informed decision-making. Finally, build and nurture authentic relationships, as trust is the cornerstone of successful B2B sales.

6. What are some effective B2B sales methods?

First, employ Account-Based Sales (ABS) to align marketing and sales efforts, tailoring solutions to target companies' pain points. ABS enhances collaboration and personalization, fostering a 22% increase in the sales pipeline, as seen in a case study on DocuSign.

Second, leverage compelling content marketing strategies. With 69% of successful B2B marketers utilizing defined content strategies, create valuable, problem-solving content. This builds trust and authority, crucial for the educated and selective nature of B2B buyers.

Lastly, embrace social selling, especially on platforms like LinkedIn. A remarkable 78% of social sellers outperform peers, making early connections and influencing decisions. In the dynamic landscape of B2B sales, these methods stand out for driving higher conversions and sustained success.

7. What is the significance of B2B inside sales?

Unlike outside sales, B2B inside sales reps operate from an office, using channels like calls, emails, and webinars. This approach is efficient, cost-effective, and aligns with modern buyer behaviors. Inside sales reps leverage technology, such as CRMs and social media, for effective outreach. They focus on building relationships and closing deals without in-person meetings. The significance lies in adaptability to a digital landscape, allowing for broader reach and consistent communication with potential clients. This method enhances efficiency, especially in a world increasingly reliant on remote interactions.

8. What are some B2B sales strategies for success?

Success in B2B sales hinges on strategic approaches tailored to the unique challenges of business transactions. Firstly, adopt an account-based sales (ABS) approach, aligning efforts between sales and marketing to personalize solutions for key decision-makers. Secondly, prioritize content marketing; create valuable, problem-solving content to build trust and authority. Thirdly, leverage social selling, especially on platforms like LinkedIn, to connect with prospects early in their buying journey. Finally, overcome challenges by addressing misalignment between sales and marketing, staying updated with industry advancements, and embracing a customer-centric mindset.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

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Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Author’s Details

Sattwik Das

Sattwik is a Digital Marketing professional at Smartlead. He is a dedicated content writer who focuses on juggling words to bring out meaningful content. He is experienced in well-researched and SEO-optimized content creation, content editing, and copywriting for various businesses throughout the globe. His expertise in SEO, SMM, and SMO with a touch of creativity helps businesses grow and maximize their credibility and sales.

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Edited by:

Charu Mitra Dubey

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