Selling products and services to other businesses or organizations tends to be tougher than selling to individuals. Unlike regular consumers, business-to-business (B2B) clients usually have higher stakes and therefore longer sales processes—not to mention your pitch may need to go through a lot of people.
So, how do you make the most out of your B2B sales opportunities? Read on to find out the top 10 B2B sales strategies to boost your chances of closing the deal.
What is B2B Sales?
B2B sales is the process of selling a product or service to another organization. B2B sales come in many shapes and forms, such as:
- Offering digital services like CRM and accounting solutions to other organizations
- Providing professional services like market research and brand consulting to companies
- Distributing materials to a manufacturing company
B2B sales are usually driven by a B2B sales representative or other employees that are responsible for closing the deal. Their scope of work includes conducting sales calls, setting pitch meetings with potential customers, running product demonstrations, managing client relationships, and other activities related to the B2B sales process.
B2B sales reps are further divided into two types that require different skill sets:
- Inside sales reps: Inside sales representatives usually reach and talk to business customers remotely through methods like cold-calling, video conferencing, and email messaging. Great inside sales reps can close deals without even meeting the client face to face—or at least leave them receptive enough so an outside sales rep can swoop in to close the deal.
- Outside sales reps: As the name implies, outside sales reps are almost always out in the field engaging business customers and decision-makers face to face. These in-person engagements could be meetings with individual companies or demos at a trade event.
B2B Sales Process
While inside and outside sales tend to have different phases, the regular B2B sales process consists of eight key steps:
- Find sales-qualified leads—these are people who either need or have expressed interest in your product or service.
- Assess the prospect’s potential needs by looking up their business and recent activities. This allows you to deliver a tailor-made solution.
- Decide whether or not the prospect you’re contacting is a suitable customer at the beginning of the call or meeting.
- Deliver the pitch with the potential solutions you came up with in step 2.
- Answer questions and concerns that the prospective buyer may have.
- Close the deal and discuss pricing, as well as any further steps needed to make the sale final.
- Send a follow-up email to leave a good impression and remind the client of what they need to do next.
- Check in with clients further down the line and ask for feedback about the product or service.
Why is B2B Sales Hard?
B2B sales tend to have higher stakes compared to B2C sales, and many people also say it’s tougher. But why is B2B sales hard? Here are several potential reasons:
- Price: A B2B company usually sells high-priced products and services—many of the products you’ll be selling could be valued in the thousands or even millions of dollars. Even if a company is footing the bill, business customers may be wary of making large financial commitments.
- Market size: B2C companies sell to millions of people. However, you may only have several hundred companies to sell to as a B2B salesperson.
- Purchasing decision-making process: There tends to be just one decision-maker in B2C sales: the consumer. Conversely, selling to a company means that multiple people and stakeholders need to sign off on the purchase.
- Sales process speed: B2C customers buy things much faster because they can just decide on the spot. Meanwhile, B2B sales often require legal documents that may lengthen the buying journey.
- Customer service: B2B customers often place greater emphasis on customer service and post-sales support.
What is a B2B Sales Strategy and Why Do You Need One?
These days, B2B sales can’t depend on your salespeople simply recommending products to potential clients. Most companies nowadays are savvy enough to know what they need, and they take the time to look into alternatives that can solve their issues.
With the increasing power of modern buyers comes a new challenge for B2B salespeople. You can’t just claim that your product or service is the best because the prospect may challenge you on it or research alternatives before coming to a purchase decision. The best way to win business deals these days is to prove that you’re the best, and that needs a strategy.
A B2B sales strategy is a plan to help you close deals and convince prospective customers to buy your product or service. These strategies should be reliable and reproducible, which means that they need to consistently score deals with your prospects.
Keep in mind that marketing strategies and sales strategies are two completely different things. A marketing strategy creates awareness for your product or service among your target market, while a sales strategy persuades specific buyers to purchase your product or service. That being said, these two need to work hand-in-hand to be effective.
Why is B2B Sales Strategy Crucial?
A good B2B strategy is the crux of modern B2B sales. Today’s B2B sales landscape brings more challenges not faced by salespeople in the past, like:
- Increased B2B buyer skepticism: These days, we’re bombarded by advertising and marketing from hundreds of companies almost constantly. Most modern buyers have reached a point where they have a degree of skepticism about ads and marketing that promise lofty things, as these may simply be tactics to persuade customers to buy.
- Better access to reviews: You can find reviews for just about anything on the internet these days. Your potential customers are also likely to look up reviews for your product or service before saying yes or no to what you’re selling.
- More risk awareness: B2B products and services are often expensive, and not all companies have bottomless pockets. Since what you’re selling may represent a major financial commitment that may or may not pay off, your prospects may take longer to come to a buying decision as they weigh all the risks.
A good, constantly-evolving sales strategy is crucial to solving the aforementioned issues. In addition to being a playbook on what to do and what not to do when making sales pitches, it can also be modified as your team encounters issues and chokepoints. This way, you’ll have a list of best sales practices to follow whenever you’re making a sales pitch to potential buyers.
The 10 Best B2B Sales Strategies For 2022
Looking for inspiration to create your own B2B sales strategy? Here are ten ways you can improve your sales strategy and boost your likelihood of closing deals.
1. Remember Sales and Marketing Win Together
If we put it in sports terms, your marketing team is the playmaker while your sales rep is the scorer. Both divisions could work separately, but a strong synergy between sales and marketing teams makes them stronger than the sum of their parts.
With a good marketing effort, your prospects will know about what you’re selling far before your salesperson makes a call—making it easier for you to deliver a pitch.
2. Prepare Before You Approach Your Audience
Preparation is essential before any sales call or pitch meeting. Always think about how you can solve your prospect’s problems and provide solutions in the pitch or sales call. By addressing their pain points directly, you’re more likely to gain the client’s trust and attention.
3. Create a Follow-Up Plan
So, you’ve finished the sales call or pitch meeting—now what? Many B2B sellers make the common mistake of not following up with a prospect. Always follow up with leads after first contact—they’ll feel valued and it reminds them to consider your pitch again.
4. Develop a Lead-Nurturing Plan
Not closing the deal immediately doesn’t mean that the customer will never buy from you. Keep nurturing your leads by continuing frequent value-adding conversations and communications.
5. Leverage Account-Based Marketing
Even if your product or service caters to many industries, approaching every single industry as your target market leads to impersonal and ineffective sales approaches.
Instead of casting a wide net and then drilling down to find companies that are interested in your product, flip the script. Identify your target companies first, then approach them with personalized sales solutions. This makes them feel special and more likely to be receptive to what you have to say.
6. Go Social
Phone calls and emails aren’t the only ways to contact a prospect. Many individuals at companies are fine with being approached via social media by vendors. However, you should ensure that anything you send to somebody’s social media account still feels personalized and genuine instead reading like of a cookie-cutter message.
7. Identify Opportunities for Repeat Business
Don’t take your existing customers for granted. In addition to finding more prospects, check in with your existing customer base to see if there’s anything else you can provide. You don’t even need to sell them something—a simple greeting or a personalized message can make your customer feel like a valued client and improve customer loyalty.
You can also consider upselling or cross-selling your offerings to existing clients. People.ai offers account planning and white space analysis tools that help you identify what else you can offer to clients.
8. Ask for Referrals
Referrals are a great way to get your foot in more doors. All you need to do is ask current customers to refer your company to their peers, and you’ll get a pre-warmed lead ready for following up.
9. Focus on Sales Experience Throughout the Buyer’s Journey
A good salesperson is able to put themselves in the buyer’s shoes. Go through the sales cycle yourself and see how it feels—is it nice and simple or is it too complicated and long? If it’s a bad experience, suggest how the customer journey can be improved.
10. Set a Feedback Process For Lost Leads
Lost leads shouldn’t be mourned—they should be learned from. Always follow up on lost leads and ask them why they decided to drop out of the process. Based on their feedback, make the necessary improvements in the sales process.
Since B2B sales is tougher than selling to individual consumers, you need a refined and effective strategy if you plan on closing lots of deals. To get started, follow the ten tips above.
B2B Sales Strategy FAQs
What are the four types of B2B selling?
B2B selling is divided into four categories based on who you’re selling to:
- Producers: Companies that transform materials into other products or services, like auto manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies.
- Resellers: Companies that sell goods and services from other companies without any changes. A good example of resellers is big box stores like Walmart.
- Government: Organizations under the local, state, or federal government may contract your company to provide certain goods and services.
- Institutions: Includes non-profit organizations like churches, hospitals, and charities.
How do you develop a B2B sales strategy?
To create a stellar B2B sales strategy, you need to do these six things:
- Define your customer base
- Analyze and find a niche market
- Craft a great unique selling proposition
- Create a customer relationship strategy
- Make an action plan
- Set sales goals
What makes a good B2B salesperson?
Here are some essential sales skills that you need to have to become a great B2B sales rep:
- Be an active listener.
- Work well in B2B sales teams.
- Conduct effective research.
- Be eager to learn.