The driving force of B2B (Business-to-Business) sales are companies that outsource goods and services and those that supply these commodities. Outsourcing saves time, money, and effort, making B2B an ever-growing and highly competitive market.
Selling B2B has higher monetary value, involves a lengthy customer journey, and is far more complex than B2C (Business-to-Customer). This guide aims to simplify the process by providing the best B2B sales tips and advice on how to develop a B2B sales strategy.
What Are B2B Sales?
A B2B sale is one that occurs between two businesses. The buyers are companies looking for time-saving and cost-effective ways to improve business operations, and the sellers are the businesses that supply these critical products or services.
The main features of B2B sales are:
- Complexity. The complexity of B2B sales increases with the value of the sale and the number of stakeholders involved. Stakeholders are also typically difficult to locate and contact.
- Length. B2B sales tend to involve numerous touchpoints before the sales are finalized. The communication process between the parties involved can also prolong the process, especially when the buyer must consult a committee of superiors.
- Value. B2B sales typically have a significantly higher purchase value than B2C sales. That is why buyers approach every purchase carefully and take longer to reach the final decision.
To ensure successful sales, consider these factors and design a B2B sales strategy that addresses them.
9 B2B Sales Tips
Before creating a sales strategy, consult these tips to better understand how the sales process works and what approach is necessary to facilitate successful B2B sales.
1. Adopt a Customer-Oriented Approach
Adopting a customer-oriented approach means designing sales pitches that create demand (if there isn’t any) and address your customers’ wishes and concerns.
You will not close many sales if you focus solely on your daily, weekly, or monthly quota. Before approaching any sale, you must design a buyer persona. This fictional representation of the ideal customer will help you target the right customers at the right time.
However, as helpful as the buyer persona is, it is not sufficient for a fully personalized and customer-oriented approach. To improve your pitch and close more sales, you must get into the prospect’s mind and tailor your strategy according to their business needs.
2. Research the Company
It is not enough to know which industry the company you are approaching belongs to. You must conduct thorough research about the business you wish to sell to. The focal points of your research should be:
- The size, niche, and vision of the company. This information is typically available on the company’s website and social media.
- The likeliness that the company will outsource a resource. Startups often outsource more than larger companies because they lack the capacity to hire or manufacture internally. Small–mid-sized companies outsource a resource when they are building a product that is not their core business. Companies also often use software integration to compensate for the flaws or lack of functionality of their native products.
- The relevance of your offer to the company and the benefits it may bring. Selling HRM (Human Resource Management) software to a company that sells the same type of software will obviously not work. Target companies that would benefit from your products but lack the capacities to develop them.
- The competitiveness of the company’s niche and the company’s performance compared to competitors. If the company you are selling to is outperforming competitors, you want to pitch your offer as an asset that will help it stay competitive and maintain its reputation. Should the opposite be true, you must convince the company decision-maker that your offer will help them beat competitors and stand out.
The information you gain from this research will enable you to understand which companies to approach and how to turn them into buyers.
3. Go Straight to the Decision-Maker
In theory, B2B sales occur between two businesses, but in practice, a sale occurs between the salesperson and the decision-maker.
The decision-maker is typically the person in charge of high-value purchases and important department- or company-wide decisions.
Before you pitch your sale to the decision-maker, you must find out who it is, and you can do this by creating a decision-maker (buyer) persona. A decision-maker persona represents your ideal customer, someone who really needs and values your products and services and is not too difficult to convince into buying.
A decision-maker persona is easy to create once you analyze your existing customer base or perform competitor research. The result of this research should allow you to learn about:
- Whom you should contact first. In startups, the first person you meet could be the decision-maker. If you are selling to enterprise businesses, you will encounter one or several gatekeepers – people standing between you and the decision-maker. Gatekeepers are usually personal assistants or lower-level managers who report to the decision-maker.
- What role and level of authority the decision-maker has. This is done by analyzing what role your existing customers have and by looking into the organizational charts of the companies they work for.
Once your buyer persona is ready, your lead generation department will use it to find prospective customers. After that, it is up to you or your sales team to go through leads and contact decision-makers. The best way to find accurate contact information is to find the business’s website or search on LinkedIn.
Tip: If you encounter a gatekeeper, do not ignore them because they have a high level of influence on the decision-maker. Developing and nurturing relationships with gatekeepers is equally important as with decision-makers.
4. Tap Into Emotions
Whether you are cold calling, cold mailing, or meeting the decision-maker face-to-face, your sales process must cater to the decision-maker's feelings and goals. Understanding which emotions drive the decision-maker to buy helps you design the best sales approach.
Here are some typical examples:
- Pride. The decision-maker takes pride in their company, and it is important to them to maintain a reputable brand image. You must show that your offer benefits the brand’s image and increases exposure and public influence.
- Altruism. The goal of the decision-maker is to help employees, team members, or clients. Show how your product can impact the lives of others.
- Fear. The decision-maker is concerned with the costs and risks of this investment. Assure them your product is worth the investment and present post-purchase support, such as insurance, risk covers, etc.
- Competitiveness. The decision-maker wants to beat the competition. Communicate how your product gives the brand a unique advantage on the market.
Invest in emotional intelligence training to learn how to recognize different emotions in decision-makers and tailor your approach to them.
5. Know Your Product
You cannot close sales if you do not know your product inside-out. Knowing everything about your product enables you to:
- Answer all product-related questions your customers ask.
- Demonstrate expertise and confidence in the product.
- Show you understand the customer’s struggles by highlighting the features of the product that alleviate them.
Communicate with all parties participating in product development to ensure you are completely familiar with your offer before pitching it.
6. Adopt a Problem-Solving Approach
The concept of sales is simple – a person has a problem and looks for the best product or service to solve it. In B2B, the problem is typically on a large scale, meaning it is either department- or company-wide. Because more people experience the problem, your duty as a seller is to find a solution that helps everyone involved.
For various reasons, not all companies and decision-makers will admit to having a problem. In that case, raise awareness about the issues your product addresses:
- Conduct thorough research about the company, especially the departments whose problems you can solve.
- Present your data and point out critical issues.
- Offer solutions that address those issues.
- Be specific about the results that will be achieved if these problems are solved.
That way, you will create a sense of urgency and prove knowledgeable and experienced enough to solve those problems.
Problems vary from one department or company to another, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Because of that, sellers with a problem-solving approach offer flexible and scalable solutions.
7. Share Case Studies
A case study is a summary of research results regarding the effectiveness of a tool or strategy in resolving a particular problem.
In B2B sales, case studies are typically posted by sellers to emphasize how their products or services helped resolve critical issues their buyers had. The goal is to provide social and expert proof which will convince prospective customers to consider buying from you. Buyers’ perspective on case studies is that if it works for one company, it might work for them, too.
Stay in touch with customers after purchase and collect data to track progress. Forward the data to your marketing department and design team so that they can write the content, create accompanying visuals, and schedule posting on your most successful marketing channels.
8. Give Several Options
The rule of three is a universally applicable principle based on the human tendency to consider things more enjoyable when they come in threes.
This principle is used in sales to increase the chances of closing them. The idea is that the ideal number of options to have in your sales proposal is three. One or two options are not liberal enough to meet every business’s capacity and need. On the other hand, offering more than three options is excessive and makes it difficult for the buyer to decide.
A proposal is considered ideal when it features a free trial or product sample and the following three tiers:
- Base tier. Buyers get limited product quantities or basic software functionality to get accustomed to the seller and products in question.
- Best value tier. Buyers get the best price-to-quality ratio.
- Premium tier. Buyers get bonuses that are not essential for the product’s functionality but can come in handy. Benefits include product insurance, extra product features, being the first one to pick from new arrivals, getting better deals for future products, etc.
9. Stay Competitive
Companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs and justify existing and new ones. But what does this mean for you as a seller?
Companies estimate the worth of a purchase by looking at the following factors:
- Quality of products and services
- Social proof
Those factors are not only evaluated on an individual level. Potential customers will do their research and compare numerous competitor companies to find the best deal.
To acquire new and retain existing customers, you must stay competitive. Failing to one-up your competitors will make your customers look for and switch to a better option.
Stay competitive by:
- Adding new products to your offer
- Improving existing products and services
- Adding new features to your software
- Improving customer support
- Following sales trends, marketing trends, and competitor prices
Collect customer feedback and monitor customer satisfaction levels to find out how people feel about your brand, what you can improve upon, and what you should not change.
How to Create a Good B2B Sales Strategy
The process of creating a good B2B sales strategy consists of the following steps:
- Conduct market research. Investigate the demand for your offering via keyword and competitor research and social listening.
- Determine your buyer persona. Analyze your customer base, collect and analyze customer feedback, and use social listening to learn about your buyer persona.
- Create a customer journey map. Create a visual map of all touchpoints businesses can use to engage with your brand.
- Generate leads. Invest in networking. Design a referral program and provide flawless post-purchase customer support to encourage positive word-of-mouth. Respond to negative reviews customers leave. Include testimonials and user-generated content in your marketing strategy.
- Acquire and qualify leads. Analyze customer feedback to determine common pain points in distinct types of customers. Next, use that information to tailor sales pitches. Be prepared to answer all questions about your offer and service. Prepare backup plans in the form of exclusive offers in case the customer is hesitant to close the sale. Perform the sales pitch.
- Close the sale. Ensure the customer that they are making the right decision. Provide a brief overview of what they can expect from the purchase and provide onboarding resources. Ensure that customer support capacities are sufficient to provide good service to all customers. Remind the customer to contact support whenever necessary.
- Monitor results and adjust the sales process accordingly. Conduct surveys and collect other types of customer feedback to find the strengths and weaknesses of your products or services. Emphasize the strengths in your pitch and marketing collateral. Suggest departmental or company-wide changes to eliminate the weaknesses.
Following these steps will ensure that you apply all the previously mentioned B2B sales tips.
Behind every sale should be a rock-solid offer the salesperson is confident in. Before approaching sales, invest in market research and product development. After that, follow the advice in this guide to design the best sales pitch and close more sales.