What are business-to-business (B2B) sales and how are they evolving?

B2B Sales: What Is It?

Business-to-business (B2B) sales are described as a sales paradigm where one company sells goods or services to another company. This contrasts with B2C sales, or business-to-consumer sales, in which a company sells goods or services directly to customers. B2B sales are difficult, big, and necessitate many individuals who play various roles over a long sales cycle. B2B sales sometimes include numerous discussions over the course of several weeks rather than a single transaction.

The distinction between B2C Sales
B2B sales are distinct from B2C sales in several respects, in addition to the distinct differences between the target purchasers. First off, because their solutions are frequently bigger and more complicated, B2B offers typically have a higher price point. Due to the size of the agreements, the complexity of the solutions, and the number of stakeholders, they also have a substantially longer sales cycle. Third, B2B sales are often not completed in a single transaction since they require many touchpoints to finish deals. B2B transactions frequently need approval from several decision-makers inside an organization because of the pricing points. As a result, compared to B2C Sales, B2-B Sales processes tend to be more strategic.B2-B selling strategies frequently appeal to a buyer’s reason, but B2C selling strategies frequently appeal to a buyer’s emotions. The usual B2C buyer’s journey is significantly simpler than the B2-B buyer’s journey. The usual B2C buyer’s journey will be examined. A new toothbrush is required for Rachel. She uses Google to look for the “best toothbrush” online. She discovers a report on a high-end electric toothbrush. She purchases the toothbrush after reading a few encouraging reviews on Amazon. Ideally, B2B sales would be that easy. B2B transactions can involve high risk and big profit. Consequently, there are a few significant differences:

More parties involved

According to Gartner, a sophisticated B2B solution typically requires 6-10 decision-makers in the buying group. Why then do B2B sales need so many important decision-makers? Imagine, for instance, that a new Chief Marketing Officer requires a pricey marketing automation solution. Before locating an offer, she might discuss important team members. After choosing a probable course of action, she will then need to get the CFO to approve the budget. To make sure it will function with the organization’s current IT stack, a CIO or Chief Data Officer may also need to be engaged. In small- to medium-sized businesses, the CEO may even participate in important purchase decisions.

Extended Sales Cycles

Almost every salesman who has ever worked for a B2B organization has experienced frustration with the lengthy sales cycles at some point or another. How long do B2B sales cycles last then? In a survey by CSO Insights, it takes three-quarters (74.6%) of B2B sales at least four months to close, and over half (46.4%) take seven months or longer.

Reliance on a Reliable Pipeline

How do these lengthy sales cycles affect B2B salespeople then? It implies that in order to work, they must always have a pipeline of agreements. B2B sales consequently frequently necessitate close cooperation. B2B account executives (AEs) frequently rely on marketing teams and sales development reps (SDRs) to make sure that there is always a consistent pipeline of new qualified leads to work, even though some AEs source their own transactions.

An example of a business-to-business sales process

Qualification of Incoming Leads

In a typical inbound B2B sales process, marketing may start by generating some leads using forms, trade fairs, email marketing, advertising, and other channels. An SDR with an inbound focus would then qualify these incoming leads. Frequently, the lead will simply be dismissed due to a number of variables. But after a lead is qualified, the inbound-focused SDR would give the lead to the AE for a demo since it is now sales-qualified.

Prospecting from outside

There are also outbound-focused salespeople in many thriving B2-B sales businesses. These outbound SDRs (i.e., hunters) discover potential prospects who match ideal customer buying profiles using strategies like cold phoning, cold emails, social media connections, and more. Until they can start a dialogue with a potential customer, they frequently reach out in a cadence (which typically needs numerous touch points such as calls, emails, texts, and social media). The outbound SDR would then pass the buyer along to an AE for a demo after qualifying this lead.

The B2B Demo

The AE must figure out how to assist the potential business the most effective throughout the B2B demo. This entails conversing with prospects, learning about their problems, and working with them to find the best solution (if one indeed exists). Great B2B AEs are experts at establishing rapport, getting through objections, coming up with creative solutions, and, most importantly, they listen well. An excellent demo requires both science and art. At Revenue.io, we provide AI-based solutions to sales coaches to help them identify best practices that provide effective results during demos. In order to scale out the best practices across the entire team, coaches can learn which ones to use.

The Demo to the Deal

An AE will have an internal champion within the client company if a demo goes well. The AE’s role is to enable that internal champion to sell to other important stakeholders inside the firm. When working on competitive agreements, AEs frequently work with Marketing teams to develop decks, sales collateral, battle cards against major competitors, ROI calculators, and other deal-advancing materials. One perspective is that purchasers frequently have a string of buying jobs (e.g. calculating ROI). And B2B vendors ought to provide the tools necessary for those customers to do their tasks (e.g. an ROI calculator).B2B deals often go through Procurement and Legal before receiving approval during the contract step of the late sales cycle.

Client Success

A B2B sales cycle is far from over once contracts are signed. Customer success representatives, a cross between sales and support representatives, frequently work with clients to make sure they are happy with the product. This is crucial since B2-B sales rely heavily on expanding and retaining customer bases. In reality, many businesses use a strategy called “Land and Expand.” The idea is to start with a lesser deal, make sure the customer succeeds, and then gradually increase the deal size over time.The most effective salesmen for B2-B organizations are frequently going to be their clients. A standout case study or recommendation can be pure gold. After all, it’s one thing to hear Joe Salesrep praise a solution. But watching a video of a senior official at a Fortune 500 business praising a solution will be significantly more impactful.

What Shifts in B2B Sales?

The B2B Buyer’s Journey Redefined

Gartner data indicates that B2B sales are becoming more and more complicated. 77% of buyers said that their most recent B2B purchase was difficult. What does this entail, then? According to Gartner, the B2B buyer’s journey has evolved as a result of escalating complexity. They now recognize the following six stages as constituting the buyer’s journey: Six B2B buying “jobs” were identified by Gartner research that clients must effectively execute to finalize a purchase:

  • recognizing the issue. “Something needs to be done,”
  • exploration of solutions. What options are there to address our issue?
  • requirements development. What specifically do we require the purchase for?
  • choosing a vendor. “Does this fulfill our expectations?”
  • Validation. “We believe we have the solution, but we need to be certain.”
  • creation of consensus. “We need to involve everyone.”

The B2B sales cycle has grown less linear, according to Gartner. Prospects frequently loop back through the buyer’s journey, revisiting earlier phases as they conduct more of their research. At Revenue.io, for instance, we provide a range of sales enablement products for sales teams. Our customers frequently begin by looking at a solution to one perceived issue (for example, “Our SDRs need to phone more prospects per day”). However, as a result of the purchasing process, companies frequently learn about issues that they were previously unaware of (for example, “Sales coaches don’t have time to listen to every sales call and require a solution to expose the calls that need coaching”).

Account-Based Sales Transition

Another significant shift in B2B sales (and marketing) is the increased importance of account-based selling (ABS). ABS chooses its target accounts in advance by analyzing a range of data sources to identify the organizations that would be the best fit. Following the selection of target accounts, sales and marketing frequently work together to create demand and schedule meetings with a key buying circle (i.e., certain prospects in important roles) at the target organizations.

B2B Sales Support Resources

Success in B2-B sales is frequently more attainable than ever before, despite the fact that B2-B sales procedures are becoming more complex. Powerful advances have allowed B2B businesses to streamline sales processes, onboard new reps more quickly, and coach teams more efficiently. The most effective sales enablement tools for sales teams are listed below.

Phones for sales

A sales dialer is a tool that enables representatives to reach out to, engage with, and convert more clients. Although autodialers are frequently used by B2C telemarketers, B2B sales teams tend to choose dialers that include more representative-focused capabilities, such as:

  • voicemail software
  • calling a local area code
  • CRM with automatic data logging
  • Contextual data from a variety of sources
  • Including the calendar

Services for Guided Selling

Beyond dialers, guided selling solutions provide representatives with real-time information on which prospects or accounts to contact and how to do so (whether by phone, email, text, or social media). Based on actions like email openings, form submissions, downloads, and more, the Revenue.io Guided Selling platform may even dynamically prioritize leads in real-time.

Engagement Platforms for Accounts

Platforms for account-based interaction like 6Sense and DemandBase can support collaborative efforts between sales and marketing teams to convert target accounts. These platforms include a range of tools that assist businesses in identifying target accounts, assessing client intent, and more.

Actual coaching

One of the most recent technological advancements that are assisting B2B sales teams in increasing customer conversion is real-time coaching. By automatically identifying key terms during calls and dynamically presenting reps with useful guidance and content that helps them be more effective, real-time solutions can aid in scaling coaching.

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