Marketing 9 min read

How to Develop an Effective B2B Sales Strategy

Markus Spiske /

Markus Spiske /

Main B2B Sales Takeaways:

  • Business-to-business sales describe a model that involves one business selling its products or services to another.
  • There are three types of B2B sales, depending on the business model or product.
  • B2C sales aim to sell directly to consumers.
  • The sales cycle in the B2B marketplace is generally longer than B2C.
  • B2B offerings are usually more extensive and more complex than B2C.
  • Multiple players are involved in the purchasing decision in B2B sales.
  • A B2B salesperson must find the right prospect, listen to their needs, and propose a solution.

Developing an effective B2B sales strategy can be tricky for inexperienced sellers. That’s because various factors now influence a buyer’s decisions in business-to-business sales.

For example, 34 percent of B2B buyers say their purchase decisions are driven by feature, while 27 percent say price. However, a significant number — 39 percent — cited the brand as the most influential factor.

This article explores why B2B sales are challenging and what to do about it.

What are B2B Sales?

Business-to-business sales describe a model that involves one business selling its products or services to another company rather than consumers. Not only are B2B sales large and complex, but they also require multiple personnel in various roles across the sales cycle. As a result, successful sales usually entail an effective B2B marketing strategy and several discussions. Also, it occurs over the course of weeks.

There are three types of B2B sales, depending on the business model or product. These are:

  • Supply Sales: It involves selling products that meet other businesses’ needs. For example, office supplies and computer equipment.
  • Wholesale or Distribution Sales: It involves selling key manufacturing or retail components to other businesses. One example here is a wholesaler who sells to grocery store chains.
  • Service or Software Sales: It refers to service providers that sell services instead of products. An example of such is a tax accountant that specializes in small business taxes.

Unlike B2B, B2C sales aim to sell directly to consumers. This leads to a significant difference between the two sales models.

The Differences Between B2B and B2C Sales

B2B sales image shows a weekend sales signage in a store.
Markus Spiske /

Besides the target market, B2B sales differ from B2C sales in various ways. These include a longer sales cycle, higher price point, multiple stakeholders, and knowledgeable buyers.

1. Large B2B Marketplace

Since B2B sales are made to businesses, the market pool is significantly larger than B2C.

According to Forrester, the total size of the B2B e-commerce sales market in the United States was $9 trillion in 2018. Meanwhile, the B2C e-commerce sales market stood at $602 billion in 2019.

The B2B marketplace is a great pool with bigger fishes. As a result, it also has a more sizeable budget than B2C.

2. Longer Sales Cycle

The sales cycle in the B2B marketplace is generally longer than B2C, and that’s no surprise.

B2C consumer base tends to make purchasing decisions based on a fleeting need or emotion. For example, you could buy the latest iPhone because of its new design.

B2B sellers, on the other hand, appeal to the buyer’s rationality. It focuses on measurable edges, concrete ROI, or logical solutions to a problem.

3. Higher Price Point

As said earlier, B2B offerings are usually more extensive and more complex than B2C. As a result, they have a higher average transaction value than B2C — stretching from thousands to millions of dollars.

However, a few B2C industries are an exception to this rule. These include luxury goods, automotive, and real estate.

4. More Stakeholders

Unlike B2C, B2B sales require multiple decision-makers. According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision-makers.

That means each purchase decision must climb an approval ladder. In other words, B2B sales require the approval of several decision-makers.

As you can imagine, grabbing the attention of multiple decision-makers can be challenging. In fact, 34 percent of salespeople admit that closing deals are getting harder. But why?

Why are B2B Sales so Hard?

Person holding white samsung galazy note and paper showing demographics
William Iven /

One primary reason why B2B Sales are hard is due to the market’s resistance to change. Since multiple decision-makers are involved in the process, the sales cycle takes a more extended period. Also, several additional factors in the B2B sales process could make things even more challenging. These include increased competition, fewer opportunities to influence customer decisions, outdates sales tactics, among others. 

1. Multiple Buyers

Multiple players are involved in the purchasing decision. Sometimes, these stakeholders are spread across various business roles and have minimal experience in the procurement process.

As a result, B2B sellers have to provide additional tailored content covering specific areas of each buyer’s responsibility.

2. Informed Buyers

The abundance of research information available online is both a blessing and a curse. On the other hand, it provides an educational resource that’ll enable buyers to make a purchasing decision.

However, such self-educated buyers are less receptive to an unsolicited approach. As a result, sellers have little opportunity to influence customer decisions.

According to Gartner, decision-makers in an average B2B sales are usually armed with four or five pieces of information. What’s more, they collect these data independently.

3. Value, not Price

A few sales teams still focus on price and features in their approach. However, this tactic may be outdated.

According to SiriusDecisions, the cost is no longer a deciding factor for B2B buyers’ purchase decisions. Instead, buyers focus on the unique business value that an organization offers.

In other words, buyers want to know the distinctive value that’ll make them stand out from the competition.

With these challenges, one big question comes to mind.

How do you get B2B Sales?

Three people sitting and watching another person's sales pitch.
Austin Distel /

The process of getting B2B sales begins with knowing the prospect before reaching out. This usually involves subscribing to their newsletter and reading the posts on the company blog. That way, when you finally reach out, you’ll have an idea of the prospect’s needs. Consider asking open-ended questions to gain more insight into the problem. Finally, educate your prospect and explain how your product or service can help address their needs.

1. Research the Buyer

Admittedly, reaching potential B2B buyers might be more challenging than ever before. However, the ability to research them is significantly more accessible thanks to the internet.

So, consider researching every B2B lead that comes your way — whether you generated the lead or not. For example, you want to know the company size and the number of decision-makers.

Your knowledge of the prospect allows you to get right to the heart of the matter. Besides, nothing kills a deal faster than asking an obvious question that a few seconds of research could have answered.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Information is vital when looking to convert a B2B lead. The more information you get, the more you can add value, stand out from the competition, and close sales.

Unfortunately, the internet can’t provide all the answers that you need. That’s why you must focus on getting more information from your prospects.

However, rather than ask “yes” or “no” queries, consider exploring open-ended questions. Besides making them speak at length about their needs, it also increases the chances of learning something valuable.

They might reveal a piece of information that you can capitalize on.

3. Listen to the Answers

Several tests confirm that humans are inefficient listeners. According to a study, we only comprehend and retain 25 percent of what we hear. Yet, listening is an essential skill if you hope to close more B2B sales.

The goal here is to make the buyer feel heard and understood. So, rather than drone on endlessly, consider steering the conversation to let the buyer fill the gaps.

As a salesperson, talking less may feel awkward at first. However, the tactic is rewarding.

4. Teach, Don’t Pitch

Another strategy is to focus on teaching instead of pitching.

While listening to your B2B leads, you’re likely to get a chance to educate them on your product or service. It would be best if you took advantage of this opportunity.

For one, teaching helps your prospects differentiate their wants from their needs. Besides, providing information that helps prospects tend to build brand preference and loyalty.

5. Propose Solutions

At this point, you must have asked the big questions and listened actively to the prospect’s answer. Hopefully, you identified chances to educate them further about a specific challenge or goal.

Now, it’s time to recommend products or services that’ll help them overcome said challenges.

Consider proposing a tailored solution based on the B2B buyer’s needs. You could also provide case studies of how you’ve helped clients with similar needs in the past.

Final Word: Close That B2B Sales Deal!

Two people shaking hands.
Cytonn Photography /

There’s no denying that the B2B marketplace has changed. Forget the days when a few telephone calls could help close a deal.

Now, a salesperson must find the right prospect, listen to their needs, address their questions, and propose a solution. As you can imagine, the whole process could take weeks or months.

However, after convincing the prospects that they need your solution, it becomes easier. You simply have to onboard them and negotiate the terms.

Remember, the goal is to close the deal.

Read More: 5 Ways B2B Businesses can Attract More Leads with Videos

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