What is B2B Sales?
B2B Sales is a sales category that involves selling products and services to another business. Unlike business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, where a business sells its products directly to customers, B2B sale is a sale between two businesses. Typically, the B2B sales process is lengthy, involves multiple stakeholders, and is of high dollar value. To successfully execute a B2B sales process, businesses require collaboration among multiple stakeholders, both within and outside the organization.
B2B Sales vs. B2C Sales - What are the Major Differences?
Selling in B2B is different from B2C in the following ways:
- In the B2B sales process, multiple decision-makers are involved, while in B2C, the buyer is solely responsible for making the purchase decision. Since multiple stakeholders have different needs and concerns, the reps need to be able to satisfy and convince everyone to close the deal.
- B2B solutions are feature-rich and solve critical business problems, and hence are usually at a higher price point. On the contrary, B2C sales belong to a lesser price range as the products are usually consumer products solving basic needs.
- B2C sales is typically a one-time transaction, where the buyer makes the purchase and uses the product/solution. But, B2B sales involve building long-term relationships and tend to be subscription-based especially if it is Saas & software sales. They need to be renewed periodically and the customer success and support teams play a critical role in identifying upselling and cross-selling opportunities to ensure increase in the revenue.
- The payment process in B2B sales is complex as compared to business to consumer. In B2C sales, the consumer directly pays the price to a seller to complete a transaction. However, in B2B sales, customers use a product for a particular period which is usually referred to as trial, evaluate the features, and then make the payment depending on the features they need.
What are the Challenges of B2B Sales?
B2B sales process involves multiple stakeholders and touchpoints. As a result, it is complex and reps face the following challenges:
Unstructured sales process
B2B sales is such that it involves multiple stakeholders, with multiple needs and concerns. This makes B2B sales chaotic and unstructured. The sales process is largely dependent on the target customer and hence sales reps often find B2B sales complicated. However, one can reduce the chaos by following these steps:
- Detailed research of the prospect
- Need assessment
- Presenting an appropriate solution that matches prospects’ pain points
- Identifying repeat business opportunity
Your sales playbook should list these steps clearly to maintain an organized sales process, end-to-end.
Too much data
B2B sales reps are expected to leverage prospect data in their favor. However, with too many datasets available, reps are often overwhelmed and confused about how to make the most of these datasets. The result? A situation of data overload.
Hence, sales representatives should be provided with relevant data using suitable tools so that they can reap the benefits of complex customer data and develop a customized sales pitch.
Long sales cycle
The average length of a B2B sales cycle is 102 days. That’s because B2B sales cycles involve multiple stakeholders, stages, and multiple touchpoints. In fact, it is very common in B2B sales for a prospect to reside in the awareness stage of the funnel for months. By focusing on building long-term relationships with the prospects, the sales reps can reduce the length of the sales cycle and move the prospects down the funnel faster.
Who is a B2B Sales Representative?
A B2B sales representative is a professional who applies specialized selling strategies to connect with and engage business decision-makers. Corporate buyers start their buying process with thorough industry research. Hence, B2B sales reps have to be well-informed about the ideal customer profile, their motivations, needs, and concerns and must be aware of the competitive products available in the market to influence the prospects’ decision-making process.
The responsibilities of B2B sales reps include:
- Initiating sales calls
- Formulating sales emails
- Arranging product demos
- Generating, nurturing, and engaging leads
- Identifying a prospective buyer’s pain point and crafting sales pitches accordingly
- Handling rejections
- Active social selling
What is the B2B Sales Process?
Because of the nature of the sales process, businesses need a well-organized sales strategy to build a successful B2B sales process. A B2B sales cycle involves the following seven steps:
- Need Assessment
- Sales Pitch
- Handling Objections
Research is the cornerstone of a successful selling process. Before engaging in a sales call, a sales rep should know the following:
- Products/services offered
- Target industry and audience
- Competitors and their offerings
- Market trends
Though marketing and sales enablement teams provide reps with the necessary information, it is also imperative that the reps themselves conduct or be involved in the research of the prospects. They must know their ideal customer profile, their needs, motivations, concerns, and key decision-makers to positively influence outcomes.
Some of the common questions to get started with the research are as follows:
- What is the buyer persona like?
- What challenges are the prospects facing?
- Which solutions can solve these challenges?
Reps should find answers to these questions and brainstorm the ideas with other team members before kickstarting the sales process.
Generating new leads is not enough if you cannot engage them. Sales prospecting is a critical step in the B2B sales method as it aims at engaging prospects who are interested in your products.
There are various ways to identify high-intent prospects for your business. One of the easiest ways is to use a real-time sales intelligence tool like Salesken. It helps sales professionals to detect prospects’ emotions in real-time and craft/alter their sales pitches accordingly.
Hence, with such a call analytics tool by your side, it becomes easier for your sales team to detect ideal customer profiles based on the intent match. Furthermore, you can allocate resources to high-intent leads to ensure maximum revenue.
After the prospecting stage, you need to perform a need assessment to narrow down your target customers. This stage aims to decide whether the potential customers’ needs actually match your solutions.
Usually, it is standard practice for sales reps to ask questions to the prospects. These questions should be open-ended and must encourage the customer to talk and express their needs and concerns. This step is particularly crucial because the sales reps formulate the pitch based on the findings of this stage. Additionally, this step can help reps anticipate objections from clients and prepare suitable negotiation strategies.
Some of the common questions to ask in this stage are as follows:
- What challenges did you face with your previous service provider?
- Which business problems are you trying to solve?
- What is the current business scenario like?
- What are your expectations from a new solution?
Now that you know that the potential customer’s intent and need match your solution, it is time to craft a unique sales pitch that adds sufficient value to influence a corporate buyer’s purchase decision. Generally, sales reps try to initiate a conversation with the prospects by connecting their needs with the features of a product.
Want to add an edge to your sales pitch? Check out how Salesken’s Voice of Customer Analytics can help you identify the needs and concerns of your prospects, and proactively address them in the pitch.
As soon as a sales rep starts a demo call, it is common for the prospects to ask questions and raise objections. The reps must be able to handle all concerns of the prospect satisfactorily to move the leads down the funnel.
Sales reps should remember that objections are pretty common in any sales, and must be well prepared to handle these objections.
A good practice to handle rejections/objections is to be empathetic. Empathy is a great sales skill that helps the reps to approach a solution from prospects’ perspectives. As a result, they can handle objections without getting affected.
With Salesken’s real-time assistance, reps can now know the best response to each objection. Salesken’s state-of-the-art emotion detection engine helps them know if the prospects were satisfied with the response and they can craft their pitch accordingly.
Conversion/closing is by far the most important stage in the B2B sales process. 34% of sales professionals admit that converting leads is becoming more and more challenging. This is where the sales team and target audience finalize a deal. The effectiveness of this step largely depends on the preceding steps.
The conversion step of the B2B sales process must include the following tasks:
- Sending a proposal to the prospect
- Prospects approval of the terms and conditions mentioned in the proposal
- Final price negotiations
- Closing the deal with mutual approval
Sometimes, B2B sales processes don’t end up in conversion. The prospects can ghost your sales representatives at the last minute. It is imperative that sales reps are prepared for such eventualities and adopt suitable strategies to ensure they meet their revenue goals.
Did you convert a lead successfully? Well, it only means that a new door of opportunity is open. B2B sales is all about adding add-on features to existing solutions and up-selling/cross-selling new services to the customers to drive higher revenue. A great way to convert one-time B2B buyers into repeat customers is to consistently follow up with them, understand their requirements, and pitch the appropriate solutions.
What is a B2B Sales Funnel?
A critical concept associated with B2B sales is the B2B sales funnel. Unlike the sales rep-focused sales process, the B2B sales funnel is largely customer-centric. As a sales rep, it is a must that you are properly aware of all the steps of the B2B sales funnel:
Stage 1: Awareness
This stage aims to introduce a prospect to your company and its offerings. This stage aims to create brand awareness and make the target companies curious to explore your products and services.
Stage 2: Interest
The second stage of the B2B sales funnel is all about building interest. If you can successfully build interest, prospects will be more and more interested in your brand and start their market research. It is the very stage where prospects will start asking questions about pricing, timeline, deliverables, etc.
Stage 3: Desire
If a prospect reaches the desired stage, they are already impressed by your offerings. Now they are planning to buy from you and are connecting with you for that.
Stage 4: Intent
A prospect who is in the intent stage of the B2B sales funnel is willing to purchase from you. However, they are still confused about which product/service offered by you will match their requirements.
Stage 5: Evaluation
Evaluation is a critical stage of any B2B sales funnel. This is where a prospect performs in-depth evaluation of your product and takes the final call on whether or not the product is suitable for them.
Stage 6: Action
It is the final stage of the B2B sales funnel where the prospect decides whether or not they would purchase your product.
How to Make B2B Sales Successful?
The secret to successful B2B sales is to adopt suitable strategies. Here are some factors to make B2B sales successful:
- Build a flexible B2B sales strategy that includes various factors like buyer-seller competency, product-intent fit, price, etc.
- Identify a B2B sales technique that suits your sales team as well as the clients.
- Use a sales enablement tool like Salesken to create a well-structured playbook that the reps can follow end-to-end.
- Measure major sales KPIs frequently to record growth and improve sales performance.