What is B2B Sales? A Comprehensive Guide for Sales Reps
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.