B2B sales today are a complex interaction between a client and a seller for most niches.
Learn about the main types of B2B sales, the stages of the sales process for B2B markets, and the basic techniques that must be used in the sales process to be successful and meet sales targets.
What is B2B sales
B2B sales (business to business) is a sales model in which companies mainly sell goods and services to businesses, and not directly to consumers (B2C – business to customer). The main differences between B2B and B2C sales are large volumes of deliveries, long sales cycles, and complex customer service techniques.
B2B sales have become more difficult. Products are easily copied, the client requires high expertise from the seller.
B2B sales in the modern market have a set of specific features.
B2B sales are divided by the type of product you are selling:
- Sale of goods: Dealer (wholesale) or distributor (partner network) sales. The supplier firm delivers the goods to the company, which acts as an intermediary and resells it to the final consumer. In the sales process, there are always stages of complex negotiations with the purchasing center. The more expensive and/or more complex the product, the longer the selling process takes and the more people are involved in the buying process.
- Selling products: This is the sale of complex products, often complex solutions (product + implementation + service). Sales of industrial, construction markets with a long transaction cycle and a complex negotiation process.
- Sale of services: Sale of various services – accounting, coaching, engineering – any service for the direct consumption of a corporate client.
B2B sales are a huge segment of the market, from manufacturing to retail. Sales volumes of companies working in B2B depend on many factors: on the product that it sells, demand in the market, the size of the company, the period of its work on the market.
Features of sales in B2B
The goal of B2B sales is to close a profitable deal. For example, a retail store purchases goods from a distributor and resells them at a premium, making a profit. When an ordinary person makes a purchase, he also pursues personal gain, but this is not related to generating income.
In B2B, the relationship between the seller and the buyer is important. Sometimes this is even more important than the quality of the product and its price. When a regular shopper comes into a store to buy groceries, the personality of the cashier does not influence the purchase decision. But a large B2B deal can fail if the client does not like working with the manager.
B2B transactions are not spontaneous. Usually, we are talking about large sums, so the salesperson and the decision maker (DM) negotiate in several stages. This takes a lot of time and requires additional approvals from the leaders.
Target audience of the B2B market
B2B clients are commercial and non-commercial enterprises, individual entrepreneurs.
The market target audience can be divided into groups:
- Industrial companies: purchase goods for production needs. For such customers, product quality and timing are important.
- Retail and wholesale stores: resell goods. The factor influencing the decision is the price.
- State companies, NGOs and other organizations financed from the state budget. They have an extensive scope of activity and prefer offers with low cost.
Structure of the B2B Sales Department
The structure of the B2B sales service is built depending on the goals of the business and its specifics. Usually, the department consists of sales people, but each employee has his own functions:
- A manager who helps to find clients. He develops a client base, connections, controls the start of transactions.
- The sales person in charge of the deal. This is a person who can reach the decision maker and competently present the product, lead the client to signing the contract.
- Account manager. He builds long-term communication with the client: he fully accompanies the transaction, deals with additional sales, and keeps in touch.
If the company is small, then one manager can play several roles at once. And vice versa: in corporations, the structure of the sales department is more complicated, it is divided into departments. For example, there is a department for servicing retail customers and a department for wholesale.
There is also a manager in the team – the head of the sales department. He builds processes: sets plans, monitors work, calculates efficiency, and works to increase sales.
The stages of B2B sales include:
- Search for clients. ROP or marketer analyzes where to find the target audience and thinks over a marketing strategy (for example, orders a landing page and launches contextual advertising or calls customers on a cold base).
- Qualification. After the first conversation, the manager must determine whether the client has a need for a purchase and the right budget. This will help you decide whether to continue the conversation or refuse to cooperate.
- Product presentation. If the client needs a product, then you can start the presentation. Start right away with the benefits that solve the problems of a particular business.
- Working with objections. Here we need evidence of the benefits of the product, facts, cases, a comparative analysis of competitors – something that will help encourage cooperation.
- Formation of a commercial offer. When you know what the client needs, you can draw up a relevant quotation: it is important to discuss the price, delivery time and delivery services in advance.
- Make a deal. You need to prepare in advance for this stage: print out the documents, invite a lawyer for proofreading. It happens that the client cancels the contract at the last moment. Find out the reasons: perhaps the differences can still be overcome.
There are three ways to build channels for B2B sales.
companies cooperate directly, without intermediaries. For example, a manufacturer sells goods directly to retail stores.
This method is suitable if:
- the company has a small client base;
- the flagship is a technological product that requires maintenance;
- the company sells goods only in large quantities;
- has its own logistics structure;
- the company offers services.
Advantages of direct marketing: you can quickly get feedback from the client, control sales and marketing strategy. You can also save on the work of a distributor.
But there are also disadvantages. It is difficult and expensive to scale such a business: you have to invest in logistics and control all processes.
This is sales to customers through an intermediary. For example, a manufacturer sells a large batch to a wholesaler, who sells to smaller retailers.
The channel is used if:
- the company has many customers from different areas;
- they are distributed over a wide area;
- the end customer buys small lots.
Business with indirect distribution channels is easier to develop: all logistics and sales costs are borne by the distributor or representative. But in order for the intermediary to make a profit, prices will have to be kept low.
Here the company itself creates an intermediary and sells goods to retail outlets through its own distribution network. This method is used if the company has enough resources to organize sales, storage, and delivery. The main plus is that all profits remain within the company.
To attract customers, B2B businesses use the usual channels: they sell through their own online stores and use social networks, email newsletters, outdoor advertising, and other methods to promote.
How to find new sales channels in the B2B market
Here are some ways to find new clients:
- Active sales. The manager independently searches for customers and offers them goods and services. This is the most popular and cost-effective way to sell in the B2B segment. Problems with this approach: for the strategy to work, you need to develop a conversation script, collect a base for calling and select qualified employees.
- Passive sales. Marketers increase the number of incoming calls and other requests through advertising. You will need an updated marketing strategy and a passive sales team.
- Service sales. The company is working on customer loyalty and LTV. It is necessary to build relationships correctly from the moment of contact: assign a personal manager to each regular customer in order to inform about products and promotions, and promptly resolve issues and problems.
B2B Sales Techniques
Each sales department works according to its own scheme. But there are universal techniques that can be used in any business. We have selected the most interesting ones.
Ben Hunt stairs (Turning Visitors into Buyers)
Ben Hunt is the author of the acclaimed book Website Conversion: Turning Visitors into Buyers! Hunt came up with a theory called the Ladder of Recognition. According to it, all customers can be divided into five groups according to the degree of product awareness. At each stage (steps), buyers face a certain problem – in order to close a deal, the manager must offer a solution.
The recognition ladder consists of five steps:
- Indifference – the client does not know about the problem that the product solves or uses the offers of competitors.
- Awareness – the client understands the problem and is ready to solve it.
- Comparison – looks for profitable solutions and selects the appropriate method.
- Choice − Choose between multiple options.
What is the essence of this B2B sales method: you need to correctly determine at what stage the client is. If he doesn’t know about the problem, talk about it and offer a benefit. If you compare with competitors, do an analysis and focus on your own advantages and disadvantages of other offers.
According to the rules of technology, the manager asks the client leading questions that help to better determine his needs and make an effective CP. There are four groups of questions:
- Situational. They help to get basic knowledge, collect more information about the company: these are questions about the age and history of the company, partners, principles of work, and others.
- Problematic. Help identify problems. Example: Are you satisfied with the price? What are the challenges and challenges facing your business?
- Extracting. These are questions that help assess the importance of the problem to the client. For example: How does this affect the growth of the company? Are you losing profit?
- Guides. Determine the value of the offer for the client. Example: What business benefit do you see in this? How will the company develop after solving the problem?
A feature of the method is that the manager guides the client from the stage of posing a problem to solving it and receives information to build effective communication.
FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits)
The method is based on features, advantages, benefits (characteristic, advantage, and benefit). The technology is to see the benefits of the client in this focus and correctly present the product:
- Characteristics are the technical features of the product: lightness, strength, durability.
- Benefits are specific benefits to the customer. Let’s say you offer a construction company to use a soft roof – it is more convenient to transport and store it.
- Benefit. Let’s explain using the roofing example: to motivate a client to abandon the metal coating in favor of flexible tiles, you can offer free shipping or a cumulative discount – this is the benefit.
Determine what is important to the customer and turn product features and benefits into benefits. Don’t hide your flaws, but be prepared to fight objections.
How to increase sales
Several ways to stimulate B2B sales:
- Create a system of discounts for regular customers.
- Run a sale on seasonal products or offer bonuses to boost your sales.
- Offer free services with a purchase of a certain amount: assembly, delivery, warranty or maintenance.
- Provide promotional materials and exhibition equipment.
Another way to increase sales is to use scripts. These are prepared conversation scripts that help a manager lead a customer to a purchase. Scripts are used in personal meetings, but ready-made algorithms are especially effective for telephone sales.
Mistakes in B2B sales
Sales are low. It is important to correctly identify the decision maker (DM): if you negotiate with a person who does not have the authority to conclude a deal, then you will waste time and effort.
Emphasis only on the features and benefits of the product. Customers in the B2B segment need a result: a benefit or a specific way to solve a problem. Therefore, focus not on the quality of the product, but on the effect of the deal on the business.
Commercial offer with one option. Customers like to choose: compare prices, products, and conditions. Indicate three alternative options in the CP: from a simple solution for the economy segment to a premium product.
Exceptional remote communication. A personal meeting is more effective than phone conversations or correspondence on the Internet – this is confirmed by hundreds of successful cases.
Gaps in product knowledge. A good manager has an answer ready for any question. It is better to rehearse the conversation in advance, think through possible scenarios and learn the properties and characteristics of products.
Discounts for everyone. Customers who are only interested in price are the most unreliable audience that is difficult to retain. Sell the value and benefits of the product to help build long-term business relationships.
There is no general selling template that is 100% likely to work. To get profitable deals, you need to build an effective sales department and correctly set up processes taking into account the specifics of the business. The main thing is to keep the focus on the needs and problems of the client this will help you get feedback in time and use it as a growth point for the company.