Although the concept of making a sale seems simple, there can often be some confusion regarding what B2B sales is, as well as how the process differs from the B2C space.

So, in this article, we’ll go through everything you need to know about B2B sales and the best sales strategies that have been proven to deliver results.

B2B Sales - What Is It?

As the name implies, B2B (Business-to-Business) sales are transactions between business entities, as opposed to B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sales, where businesses sell to consumers.

The fact that sales happen between business entities means that the process is often more complicated than in B2C.

what is b2b sales

Since business people have a lot of experience with sales themselves, the strategies that work in B2C often aren’t nearly as effective for B2B.

These types of buyers are typically well educated about their options, have multiple decision makers behind every purchase, and are always looking to get the best deal possible for what they receive.

What’s more, sales in the B2B world can be sorted into different categories as well, all of which require different appraoches.

Some B2B industries revolve around selling physical supplies to businesses, others sell manufacturing elements and tools, while others still focused on providing B2B services.

You may be thinking that B2B sales seem a lot more complicated than B2C, but there is a positive side to operating in this field as well.

B2B can often be much more lucrative because of the higher costs of services and products, as well as the fact that high-quality products tend to attract a significant percentage of the educated buyers that operate in the industry.

In fact, according to Forrester, the U.S. B2B industry is set to hit $1.8 trillion by 2023, which is lightning-fast growth considering the market was only $1.1 trillion in 2018.

b2b growth projection

B2B vs. B2C Sales

In the last section, we briefly established that the main difference between B2B and B2C sales is the target audience that is being sold to.

In B2C, you would be selling to individual customers. For instance, buying a local pool membership for yourself or your family would be a classic example of a B2C sale, as you are purchasing the service as an individual.

All of the sales made in retail eCommerce stores or physical stores also fall under the umbrella of B2C. Even something as simple as going to the grocery store counts as B2C too.

b2b sales vs b2c sales

On the other hand, sales in the B2B world involve corporate clients that are usually much more sophisticated than individual consumers.

These types of clients are industry professionals with in-depth knowledge in the field and a solid understanding of the available options. Often, B2B sales deal with high-level executives and have multiple people that have to approve a single transaction.

Because the target audiences in B2B markets are so sophisticated, making a sale comes down to whether you can offer the best value and meet the specific requirements that the client has.

In many cases, selling to corporate clients involves a much longer sales cycle, so you’ll need to lay out the features and benefits of your product and show how it can help the prospect solve a specific problem.

Multiple touch-points will often be required before a buying decision is made, and the salesperson will need to get to know the prospect on a deeper level to effectively adapt the sales pitch to meet their expectations.

Selling to companies usually involves multiple people. Therefore, using emotion-based sales strategies that work really well in B2C will rarely deliver results in the B2B selling process.

In fact, B2B buyers tend to read up to five pieces of content on the subject before speaking to a sales rep, so a seller needs to be prepared to answer tough questions and understand how their product is better than the competitors.

Albacross integrates with salesforce, hubspot, zapier

These buyers are already using leading tools like Salesforce and Hubspot which Albacross integrates with and they understand marketing and sales, so they will go way beyond a simple Google search when doing their research as well.

Proven B2B Sales Strategies

Now that we’ve understood what selling for business is and how it differs from B2C sales, we can dive deeper into the specific sales strategies and tactics that you could use to drive conversions and grow your company.

Today’s B2B buyers are more sophisticated than ever before, and the majority of them will do their own research and rely on it more than any pitch from a sales representative.

That’s why you need to be very deliberate about how you set up your B2B sales process and make sure that you are leveraging review sites and social media to position your brand in a positive light.

Let’s explore some of the business-to-business sales techniques that have been proven to be extremely useful.

Social Media

Social media plays a crucial role in the B2B sales process.

If you’re not engaging your prospect and customers on social platforms, you are basically giving away your target audience to your competition, who can participate and steer the conversations, answer questions, and position themselves as the best solution.

You see, since B2B buyers are such an informed audience and perform thorough research on their own, they are not afraid to use the social networks, ask questions, voice their concerns, or even vent about unpleasant experiences surrounding you or your competitor products.

As a B2B company, your goal should be to enter these conversations and make the product that you offer a part of them so that you can influence the decision-making process.

b2b sales in social media

You can do this in several ways:

  • Track your own brand’s social mentions on sites like Twitter or even LinkedIn, and answer questions, tackle concerns, and resolve any issues that the customer might have. This way, you are not only salvaging that particular relationship but also showcasing your brand and your products to all the people who will see that conversation in the future.
  • Track mentions of your competition and insert yourself in the conversation. For instance, if someone is unhappy with the features or performance of a competing solution, post a reply that lays out the ways how your product is better in that particular situation and overall.
  • Using social media for sales, you can warm up a significant percentage of your leads who are doing research and get yourself in a much better starting position when talking with them later on.
  • Being active on social platforms can even contribute to your demand generation efforts, helping you inform more potential customers about the fact that tools such as yours exist, and getting your product in front of the most prominent influencers in your field.

Capture Your Website Visitors

B2B audiences are very sophisticated and perform thorough research.

For many B2B companies, this can seem like an issue - since the buyers are so knowledgeable, how can you hope to persuade them?

Well, the best approach is to leverage their researching habits to perfect the timing of your approach. When a prospective buyer is looking for a specific solution, they will likely explore the main options available on the market, which includes visiting each website.

In most instances, those visits would remain anonymous unless they decided to opt-in to a list or sign up for a demo.

However, if you use a lead capture tool such as Albacross, you can identify each lead that visits your website, gaining a considerable advantage over your competition.

capture website visitors with Albacross

Since you know that the lead is actively looking for a solution, approaching him with a well-timed and persuasive message might be all he needs to give your product a shot.

With tools like Albacross, you can find out the company that the lead is representing, what pages he visited on your site, as well as how to reach them. For a competent sales team, that’s more than enough information to reach out and get that person on the call.

Account-Based Selling

Account-based selling is on a steep upward trend, with 75% of B2B businesses with over $10 million in revenue predicted to use it in 2019.

And there’s a good reason why it’s becoming so popular.

account based selling

Since B2B buyers are educated and sophisticated, sales professionals in the industry must adapt to each client’s needs and get to know their situation in intimate detail.

With account-based marketing, you can treat each customer as a market of one, developing an individual approach for getting in contact, reaching the right people, and making sure that the most influential director is convinced.

If you customize your marketing efforts, you can offer personalized value to a client that you carefully select and take the time to understand, which can help you position your product in a way that resonates with their needs and makes it a clear-cut choice over the competition.

How to Build Your Own B2B Sales Pipeline

Having a structured and thorough process for generating leads is essential. Without it, it would be almost impossible to track performance and make steady improvements.

But how can you set up your own B2B sales cycle?

Let’s explore all of the steps that you’ll need to follow below.

b2b sales pipeline

1. Set Up the Lead Generation System

For a sales pipeline to generate sales, you need leads that you can then nurture and sell to, so setting up a lead generation system is a good place to start.

Luckily, with marketing and sales tools like Albacross and e-SalesClub, you can automatically turn your website visitors into leads that you can sell to.

Once you add it to your website and set up the parameters, you will start getting reports that will provide you the essential information about your site’s visitors, including their contact information.

Then, all you’ll need to do is figure out the best way to approach them.

2. Qualify

While each lead is important, you need to acknowledge the fact that not all of them will be ready to buy immediately.

To ensure that you approach each lead the right way, you need an effective way to qualify your leads and determine whether they should be sold to or nurtured.

That’s why knowing how to score your leads is one of the essential sales skills.

By developing a lead scoring system based on your experience with previous customers and lead activity, you can save a ton of time for your B2B salespeople and allow them to focus on the leads that are hot and need to be converted right now.

On the other hand, those that aren’t ready should be passed over to the marketing teams, which can then inform, nurture, and guide these leads towards the decision to buy from you and not the competition before passing the leads back to your B2B sales teams.

But what type of scoring criteria should you use?

lead qualification process

Well, that will depend on your ideal target customer. Once you identify the types of companies that you want to sell to, you can score leads based on attributes such as company size, industry, and even the department of the person who’s visiting your site.

As mentioned before, you can also use page activity to determine at what stage a particular visitor might be.

For instance, if someone is going through your top-funnel blog posts, chances are that they’re not yet at the buying stage and should be nurtured.

However, if they request a trial, they’re likely ready to choose a solution, so you need to act quickly.

3. Nurture

Although lead nurturing may be more closely related to marketing, it’s important to treat it as a part of the sales process because, ultimately, every nurture sequence must be designed to drive new leads towards making a purchase.

Since B2B audiences like to read and educate themselves, it’s only natural that lead nurturing will revolve around your content and providing value as well.

lead nurturing

You can use webinars, articles, videos, infographics, and case studies to showcase your product in action and help your leads understand how your product can help address their pain points.

Since a B2B sales funnel can sometimes take a bit longer, lead nurturing can also involve back-and-forth communications between your representatives and the company you want to sell to, as you’ll likely need to educate and convince multiple decision-makers before they decide to buy.

However, as you gain more insights about who your buyers are, you can create automated nurturing sequences for each stage of the buyer journey and ensure that the majority of your leads steadily approach a buying decision.

4. Pitch Your Product

No matter how you look at it, there’s no going around the fact that eventually, you’ll need to lay your cards on the table, make the best offer you can, and hope that the lead will respond to what you have to say and make a purchasing decision.

Luckily, if you have a working lead nurturing system and have qualified leads, you won’t have to do any cold calling. By the time your leads hear the pitch, they will already understand:

  • How your product works
  • Why it’s better than others
  • How it can help them solve their specific problem

In the end, you should use a straightforward sales approach and just lay out the terms, reiterate your main points, and give them a time-sensitive deal that incentivizes acting right now.

5. Close The Deal

Once you reach an agreement, you are almost at the finish line.

However, you still need to hash out a specific arrangement in terms of payment, length of the agreement, and the onboarding process.

Since you’ve worked so hard to reach this point, try to make the buying process as easy as possible, and outline all of the steps that the client will need to take, and what will happen then.

image

Talk about the plan of action that you have on your site, and how you’ll start delivering on the promises that you made after the deal is closed and finalized.

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Bottom Line

The B2B sales world has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades.

With the technology that’s available today, you have more opportunities than ever for engaging your very best prospects and generating qualified leads automatically.

However, at the same time, today’s B2B buyers are more resourceful and sophisticated as well, so if you want to achieve long-term success, you will need to deliver on your promises and adapt to the changing needs of your target audience.

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Albacross

Marcus Svensson

Head of Growth

Marcus Svensson is responsible for the Growth of Albacross with previous experience as a founder and background in Mathematics.