Business-to-business sales, commonly known as B2B sales, refers to a sales model where one business makes commercial transactions with another business rather than with consumers (B2C sales).
It can be a challenging field because it requires negotiating with more demanding professional buyers. It takes a lot more than charm and persuasion skills. You have to have a thorough understanding of the client’s needs and act as a consultant.
The main differences between B2B and B2C sales are:
- In B2C sales, you’re marketing your products or services directly to consumers, which means you have a much larger lead pool size. In B2B sales, the lead pool is much smaller, so you can’t use the blanket approach. Your pitch has to address the specific needs of each company you’re trying to sell to. Furthermore, in B2C sales, there’s usually just one decision-maker, while B2B sales require dealing with several stakeholders from various departments in the company.
- A major advantage of B2B sales is that transactions are much more substantial than when you’re selling directly to consumers. Once you’ve negotiated a deal, companies will buy in bulk over an agreed-upon time frame. However, precisely because the transactions are more substantial, you’ll need to know everything there is to know about your products or services so you can answer any questions the stakeholders ask you. They’re often very busy people that took the time to meet with you and discuss your offer. If you tell them that you “need to get back to them on that,” you might not get a second chance.
- In B2C sales, the process tends to be quick. Most consumers buy either out of habit or on the spur of the moment. Since B2B sales are more substantial, there’s more at stake, so the wooing period will also take longer. A B2B sales cycle takes somewhere between 6 and 9 months on average, but it can also take more than a year. You need to convince several people, so you’ll go through a lot of phone calls, meetings, and demos.
- In B2C sales, customers usually see the price, accept it, take out their credit card and pay on the spot. There are, of course, exceptions, but this is how it generally goes. In contrast, B2B transactions tend to be more complex. Both the prices the payment process are negotiable.
Although it does have its challenges, B2B sales can be a very lucrative field, and learning about the most effective strategies will help you develop a sales process that matches your goals.
Put More Time in Research than in Cold-Calling
You probably already know that cold-calling has a low success rate and is therefore not the best use of your time. So how can you expand your client base? By conducting essential research for businesses. This research will help you identify the prospects most likely to give you a positive response.
High-level market research will provide you with a greater understanding of how much demand there is for what you’re selling. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with your competitors and their sales strategies so when you reach out to prospects, you already know what kind of offers they’re getting.
The next step is to research your prospects’ business models, objectives, and, most importantly, any challenges they might be facing. This will allow you to focus your efforts on the most promising leads and pitch your products or services as solutions to these challenges.
Bear in mind that companies usually receive a lot of cold calls, so they might not be particularly receptive. That’s exactly why it’s so important to devote more time to research rather than cold-calling. This way, you’ll be able to reduce the number of leads you need to contact while improving your chances of closing a deal with those you do contact.
Your Target Audience
You should be able to determine your target audience based on your research into the current state of the market and competitors, which will help you narrow down the list, so you don’t waste time pursuing leads that don’t align well with what your company has to offer.
Before you start calling, you’ll have to consider some key details that will give you insight into how their business is going:
- Have they recently released a new product?
- Have there been any significant leadership changes?
- Any recent funding rounds?
This contextual information will let you know if it’s a good time to reach out to them and make an offer. Timing also depends on the buyer’s journey. Before they’re ready to close a deal, your prospect will usually go through three stages.
The first stage is when they become aware of a problem that’s preventing them from increasing their profit margin. In stage two, they’ll start looking for solutions that include products and services from other companies. In the last stage, they’re ready to weigh the pros and cons of various options they found during the previous stage and reach a decision.
Meet Face-to-Face and Sell Solutions
Once you find prospects that fit into your target audience, contact them and see if you can convince them to schedule a meeting. They will probably ask you some questions on the phone to see if your offer is worth the time. If you’re able to address their concerns to their satisfaction, they’ll give you a chance to discuss a potential collaboration in greater detail.
That will be your chance to establish trust and present your products or services as a business solution. Companies are not interested in the products and services themselves but in what they can gain from them. That’s what you’ll want to focus on, and you’ll need to come prepared with the data to back up your claims. That’s why we put so much emphasis on the importance of research throughout this article. Your goal is to show them how their company will benefit by doing business with you. When you’re discussing the price, you’ll want to follow the same principle and focus more on the return on investment and how much money your offer will save them, rather than how much it costs.