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B2B Sales: Understanding the Unique Dynamics and Strategies

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Kinsey Wolf

Approximately a quarter of sales are B2B. This is a significant portion of the sales landscape, and one worth paying attention to. In this guide, we’ll explore B2B sales basics, including what “B2B” means, what makes B2B sales unique, and more. Let’s jump in:

What does B2B sales mean?

The phrase “B2B sales” stands for “business to business sales.” A B2B sale is one wherein one business is selling into another business. B2B sales are unique, because they’re never only about the transaction. The sale of a product or service from one business to another is the start of a partnership that’s designed to unlock mutual value, enhance innovation, and build relationships.

This can be compared to B2C sales, which stands for business to consumer sales, and D2C sales, which stands for direct to consumer sales. 

5 examples of B2B sales

B2B, or business to business, sales can cover a wide range of transactions between companies. Here are three simple examples of B2B sales, to help you understand what this term can cover:

  • A local bakery orders signage for their shop, including the logo above their door and posters on the inside from another local printing company. This is a B2B sale, because the baker is ordering from the printmaker.
  • A consultant works with Fortune 500 companies to deliver leadership and change management training. This is a service-based B2B sale, rather than a product-based sale.
  • A tech startup signs up for a monthly subscription to a web-based design software like Figma or Canva. Even though there was no 1:1 conversation between a prospect and a salesperson, this is still a B2B sale because it’s one business (the startup) purchasing from the other (the software provider).
  • A large Fortune 100 enterprise purchases a major subscription to a CRM (customer relationship management) technology, so that they can better track their leads, prospect, and customer relationships. This sale takes more than 3 months to close, because there are a lot of conversation about how to transition from their current provider, data requirements, security protocols, and more. There are junior sales people and senior sales engineers involved, and the sale requires buy-in from leadership across departments. This is a highly complex and customized B2B sale.
  • A manufacturing company orders raw materials and pre-fabricated parts from a variety of materials suppliers. Every one of these transactions is a B2B sale.

What makes B2B sales unique?

Getting a business to make a decision to purchase a product or service from another tends to require a lot of orchestration and alignment. In that environment, it’s unsurprising but true that B2B sales tend to be more complex, and take a longer time to close, than other types of sales. They may also be more expensive, particularly when larger businesses are involved. 

In a B2B sale, trust is critical. Making a purchasing decision is a big responsibility, especially as switching partners can be costly. That’s part of the reason why relationship-building and management is really important in B2B sales.

In summary, B2B sales typically:

  • Have a longer sales cycle.
  • Require more stakeholder involvement, both on the buyer and seller side.
  • Are more complex and strategic.
  • Have higher deal values, or subscription costs.
  • Rely on a deep understanding of the buyer’s goals, needs, and challenges.

As a result, B2B sales people need to be excellent communicators, adept in a wide range of social settings, and comfortable dealing with both lighthearted and intense conversations. In addition, B2B salespeople need to cultivate a lot of patience and persistence. In addition to having impressive strategic minds, successful B2B salespeople are skilled relationship-builders.

Sales enablement tools are an important part of B2B selling. We’ll touch more on technology later in this article.

Other types of sales include B2C, or business to customer sales. A restaurant is a great example. A D2C sale, or direct to consumer sale, is a type of B2C sale where the consumer can purchase directly from the manufacturer. Lots of the internet eCommerce brands you know are D2C.

What do B2B salespeople do?

A B2B salesperson has a variety of key responsibilities that make up the bulk of their day-to-day work. Here, we’re highlighting a few of them.

1. Know your target audience and ideal customer profile(s). 

It’s essentially for B2B salespeople to deeply understand their ideal customer and their target audience in order to be able to communicate with them effectively. This initiative is often conducted in partnership with marketing. That said, many salespeople will conduct additional research into the industries, companies, and decision-makers that they’ll engage with. 

2. Understand the buyer journey of the individual shopper, as well as the goals and responsibilities of the business.

In a business-to-business sale, the salesperson is communicating not only with a counterpart, but the whole organization. That’s why it’s essential for a B2B salesperson to understand the buyer journey that the prospect is going through, from learning about the solution to actually deciding what to purchase.

At the same time, the B2B salesperson needs to understand the goals and responsibilities of the business. This enables the salesperson to communicate how the solution can actually meet those expectations.

3. Communicate with leads and convert them to opportunities, and customers.

This is the most important thing that a salesperson does: connect with leads, and convert them to customers. A B2B salesperson is often measured by their close rate; that is, the percentage of their prospects that they’re able to turn into customers.

It’s important to connect with leads as quickly as possible. A landmark study revealed that companies that respond to leads within 5 minutes are 100x more likely to win the sale than those that respond within 30 minutes. This study is from 2011; recent research seems to indicate that the response window has shrunk even more. At Calldrip, we experts in rapid lead response, and recommend our customers try to connect within one minute.

We make this possible with our revolutionary rapid lead response solution. When a lead fills out an inquiry on your website or via an ad, we’ll automatically trigger a phone call to connect your sales team to the prospect. We call this solution “Respond” and you can learn more about this rapid lead response tool here.

4. Take a consultative approach in scoping conversations and demos.

In a B2B sales environment, a salesperson needs to be able to clearly present and articulate the value of the product or service being sold via demos and/or scoping conversations. To be successful, most B2B salespeople opt to take a consultative approach with their prospects. 

What does that mean? It starts with working to understand client challenges before proposing solutions. Listening actively and asking probing questions are essential. Then, the B2B salesperson focuses on providing value through insights and problem-solving, rather than a hard sell. 

5. Re-engage with cold prospects or closed-lost opportunities.

The best B2B sales people actively maintain their book of business. They proactively re-engage with cold prospects, and even closed-lost opportunities, to gain valuable insights and potentially re-open the sales opportunity in the future.

The good news is that re-engaging with cold leads doesn’t need to be a manual process. In fact, digital sales assistants exist that can take the burden of re-engagement, nurturing, and follow-up off a B2B sales person’s shoulders. Calldrip offers an AI-powered sales assistant that can help; try our AI sales assistant for free.

6. Handle objections.

It’s important that B2B salespeople actively handle objections and challenges that may arise during the sales process. They develop strategies for addressing objections and turning them into opportunities.

Want to learn more about objection responses? Here’s a guide for how to respond to 5 B2B sales objections.

7. Build and share proposals with key stakeholders at the target account.

The B2B salesperson is the one individual who has the most conversations with the prospect; they know what the prospect is expecting. Their job is to ensure that insight is reflected in the proposal. This is true whether the salesperson is building proposals themselves, or if they’re communicating those goals and expectations to the quoting or proposal team.

8. Collaborate with sales engineers, as applicable.

In some B2B sales environments, selling the product or service requires a bit of technical know-how. For example, if you’re selling an enterprise-level inventory management software into a major energy corporation, you’d need to map the inventory line items to business divisions and more. This data architecture might require a salesperson with technical knowledge of the product and/or software, a role which is referred to as a “sales engineer.” 

A sales engineer is typically not involved in the first sales conversations, but they enter in the later stages of the sales process to ensure that the product or service can be engineered to meet the customers’ needs, and if so, how. A B2B salesperson needs to be prepared to collaborate with sales engineers throughout the sales process, and in interfacing with clients.

9. Handover the account to customer success or account management.

Another responsibility of B2B salespeople is to ensure the successful handover to customer success and/or account management post-close of sale. 

10. Engage in active coaching, and continuous learning and improvement. 

Sales coaching makes the difference between good and great salespeople. Coaching allows salespeople to identify opportunities for growth, and improve their sales performance. Data backs this up: companies with a sales coaching program achieve a 28% higher win rate than those without one. Sales coaching software can make this process easier.

In addition, the B2B sales landscape tends to be dynamic, responding to both micro and macro-level changes. Salespeople need to embrace a mindset of continuous learning and adaptation. If a salesperson says, “That’s how it’s always been,” it’s a sure sign that it’s time to re-evaluate and validate the opinion with data and reflection.

11. Leverage sales enablement technology.

Sales enablement technology is key for B2B sales. From creating a great first impression, to automating lead follow-up, monitoring and improving performance, these solutions can help you connect with leads, generate opportunities, and close those opportunities into customers.

There are a wide variety of solutions that can help. For example, most sales organizations will leverage a CRM, or Contact Relationship Management tool, to track known contacts and your companies interaction with them.

Another great example of an all-in-one sales enablement tool is Calldrip. We help companies spark the right conversations, at the right moment, and convert those conversations into connections, and then into customers. Our comprehensive solution include rapid lead response, business text messaging, web chat, call monitoring, sales coaching, and so much more. Get a demo today.

12. Communicate learnings with other key stakeholders.

Sales has a unique role, in that they have the most interactions directly with prospects and customers. In that way, they’re an important voice of the market. One of their responsibilities is to communicate these learnings to both the product/service team, as well as the marketing team. This allows the whole company to craft truly tailored solutions that reflect the market’s pain points and needs. 

This is a challenging, yet rewarding, role that can unlock powerful opportunities for growth. 

If you’re considering whether to embark on a career in B2B sales, remember: the key is to build quality relationships with prospects and their companies. In this era, a pushy salesperson is unlikely to thrive. Your role is all about understanding your customers, and doing your best to add value to their professional lives. The B2B landscape is unique, and your responsibility is to understand and adapt to it.

The right technology partners can make your life as a B2B salesperson easier. Calldrip is one such partner. To get started, request a demo today!


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