B2B? B2C? What’s in a letter? Sales is sales, right?!
Not so much. Selling to businesses is not the same as selling to consumers, the end users of the product or service. Simply put, you’re aiming at a different target so, naturally, the approach should be different too.
If you’re offering goods or services to other businesses, a clear focus on the unique aspects of the sales process can result in:
- Increases revenue
- Improves win rate
- Better teamworking
- More accurate forecasting and better control of the sales pipeline
- Better use of resources
The peculiarities of B2B
What makes B2B so different as a sales process? What are the factors that must be taken into account?
- You’re likely to be selling to professional buyers, trained to negotiate the best possible price and deal (for them).
- Depending on size, purchase decisions may be made by team or committee. Which means understanding more stakeholders, and convincing more people to buy.
- Speaking of size, you’ll probably be dealing with larger quantities/prices than someone in B2C, selling a single item to a single purchaser. Businesses often buy in bulk, and are looking for deals and discounts that acknowledge that.
- You’re also investing more time per sale. The larger quantities, higher prices, and multiple decision-makers means the B2B sales cycle just takes longer.
- Payment often comes later. In B2C, cash or credit is handed over at the point of sale. In B2B, an invoice is usually issued with delivery of the goods, or after the service has been delivered.
However, if you’re in B2B sales, the basic process is still generate leads, initiate contact, make your pitch, and close the deal.
B2B Principles to bear in mind
If that all sounds like a bit of a challenge and you want to sell more and better, remember:
- The sales process is still about people – There may be more of them involved but personal impressions and trust still play a strong role in the decision-making. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.
- Focus on business challenges – The client’s not yours! Where is their pain? What is slowing them down? How does what you’re offering help with the client’s key business goals? Be aware that you’re not so much selling a product or service as a solution to a problem.
- Data and technology can help – Keeping track of leads, tracking prospects building relationships… all depend on accessible information. Some kind of customer relationship management (CRM) software helps.
- Reputation is important – B2C customers are often ‘one-off’ and so can be more forgiving of problems, but a business client is strongly focused on the long-term relationship and the value gained from your product or service: was it what was promised? And how does that impact on how they see you?
- Follow up post-sale – Remember the relationship. The transaction is just the beginning, and you need to check in, offer support, and continue to solve problems if you want to be seen as an exceptional supplier.
As with any sales process, the person or people on the receiving end don’t like to feel they’re ‘being sold to’; what they’re looking for is information, trust a lack of obvious manipulation, and a product or service that improves their business.
If you’d like to explore the topic of B2B sales in greater detail, including how you can up your sales game, check out our website for details or give us a call on 01582 714285; we’re here to help.