B2B sales offers up some unique challenges for sales teams to conquer. The sales techniques must be highly targeted to help your team gain leads and close deals.
While B2B offers different challenges than B2C, there are still many opportunities for B2B businesses to crush sales goals when they adapt to changes in their consumers' buying behaviors.
Let's discuss some of the challenges B2B businesses face with tips on how to overcome those challenges and more.
What Is B2B Sales?
B2B sales, short for business-to-business, refers to sales transactions that take place between two businesses. This means that one business may sell a service or a product that other businesses can use.
For instance, a SaaS company sells software that helps companies to ease their workload by eliminating most menial tasks for other companies. This is a common B2B sale.
Here are some well-known B2B companies:
- Amazon Business
Many top companies engage in B2B and B2C sales. For instance, Amazon is an ecommerce business that sells products to consumers, but they also sell business accounts for business owners who would like to sell their products on Amazon.
Let's discuss the differences between B2B and B2C sales so you can understand each business type better.
B2B Sales vs. B2C Sales: Key Differences
The B2B sales process differs greatly from the B2C sales process. They both have distinct strategies that help them to sell to their specific audiences.
B2C, or business-to-consumer sales, focuses on selling a product or service directly to consumers. The consumers purchase the product or service and then use what they purchase.
For example, an online swimwear shop sells products directly to consumers for them to wear.
Here are some of the significant differences between B2B and B2C sales:
There is more than one decision maker. B2B sales reps often have to appeal to multiple people in a sales process. Sometimes a whole team of senior leaders in a company must sign off before they purchase.
In B2C sales, there are typically only one or two people who make the decision.
The transactions for B2B can be larger and more expensive.
A B2C seller might sell one product to one user, but businesses typically buy in bulk with multiple units per transaction that have higher price tags.
The payment process is typically complex in the B2B world. What you see is usually what you get in B2C sales. They see a product or a service, they pay for it, and then they get it.
That's not the case in B2B sales. The B2B customer typically pays when they are invoiced for the goods or services once it is delivered, installed, or complete.
There is a different pricing strategy for B2B and B2C businesses. Customers often pay a price that is negotiated or on some sort of payment scale depending on the B2B product or service they are getting.
For instance, a SaaS company often charges for their software based on the size of the company or the features they want.
The B2B sales cycle is longer. These types of businesses don't usually encounter a bunch of impulse shoppers.
Instead, B2B consumers typically think long and hard about their purchases. New customers often take up to seven months to make a purchase.
5 B2B Sales Challenges to Avoid
B2B companies live in an incredibly competitive environment where even the slightest hiccup can throw you into last place. And there are plenty of hiccups there to throw off your game.
Here are just a few challenges that B2B sales teams contend with:
1. Getting Prospects' Attention
A large problem faced by B2B sales professionals is getting their prospects to engage with them. Endless emails, phone calls, and newsletters are hitting their inboxes, but most often they aren't responding.
You may have the perfect solution to your prospect's pain points and still seem to fall short of gaining their attention.
The response to this challenge is for sales teams to be more precise than ever by understanding exactly who their buyer is by making use of buyer personas. This helps reps to push persona-targeted sales that gains the attention of your ideal prospect.
2. Losing Touch with Prospects
Every salesperson is familiar with the prospect that acts excited and eager to begin business at the start then vanishes into another dimension shortly after.
Whether it be because they're not ready to move on their purchase or you're not following up in the way that you should, losing touch with potential customers is a common sales obstacle.
The solution to this could be steady follow up that is conversation based rather than sales based. Your aim should be to offer your prospects value in every exchange you have with them.
3. Generating High Quality Leads
Even if you can get the attention of your prospects, there is no guarantee that they will become a qualified lead. This is typically one of the toughest challenges marketers and sales reps face in B2B.
Generating tons of leads isn't always beneficial to your business because quality is better than quantity in this case. Salespeople grow frustrated when they spend their time trying to sell to someone who isn't willing to buy or doesn't have the capital built up to purchase your product or service.
4. Post-Pandemic Slowdown
The pandemic hit a lot of businesses hard in 2020, and many companies are still shifting their sales and marketing strategies to adapt. The slowdown doesn't have to stop your business, but it is something that has become a hurdle for many businesses to jump over.
The key to overcoming this is to continue driving value by telling a story that resonates well with customers. Salespeople should know how to tell your compelling marketing message and should have empathy for the customers they sell to instead of pretending the challenge doesn't exist by not addressing it.
5. Not Standing Out in the Marketplace
Competitors are everywhere. Differentiating your business from the others is necessary to stand out in the marketplace.
It is all too easy to fade into the background when your business doesn't focus on how to offer the best value to the same target audience as your competitors.
There are more ways that can help you boost your B2B sales. You can do more than survive. You can thrive with our helpful tips.
10 Tips to Push Your B2B Sales Through the Roof
Most audiences are correct in thinking that you have to approach B2B sales differently than you would B2C sales. With the right tactics, success can be achieved for B2B companies.
Below are 10 strategies to help increase B2B sales in 2021.
1. Leverage Inbound Marketing and Sales Strategies.
You have a blog. Your social feeds are buzzing. You’ve made dozens of offers and tools for your prospects... but you're still not closing the deal.
Your sales team should have a well built process, content library, email sequences and templates, and a CRM set up to track progress with each and every prospect.
This way, marketing and sales can work together to find the gaps throughout the entire process, gain valuable information that is exchanged during sales emails and calls, and then improve where necessary.
2. Invest in the Power of Video.
When multiple decision makers are part of the equation, sharing information becomes difficult when you're trying to make sure outside opinions don’t sway someone in the wrong direction.
For example, video has been used for various parts of the B2B sales cycle:
- Demo or explainer videos: these videos should accurately show how your service works and why it is beneficial in their business goals.
- Client testimonial videos: show a more personal approach to your business.
- Buyer persona-specific videos: cater to the decision maker's specific job title. Each decision maker will have a different set of pain points and priorities. While the CEO may care about the ROI it will provide, an IT manager may be worried about specific use cases and how it works with their existing setup.
3. Research, Research, Research.
While you may think you know who your ideal customer is, have you actually done the research to prove this is true?
Conducting interviews with existing clients to understand how they found your company, what challenges they were facing, and why they chose to do business with you is incredibly powerful for lead generation.
Listen to the buzzwords they use when answering questions; turning their comments and challenges into content enables you to now know what will be useful because you heard it from one of your customers.
4. Make Use of Multiple Traffic-Generating Channels.
B2B sales typically rely on multiple people signing off on a decision, therefore, it is important to find out where each of these individuals spend their time.
While social media may bring visitors to your site, email marketing may result in increased engagement with offer downloads.
You shouldn’t just focus on digital channels, either. Trade shows, industry events, networking events, and outbound initiatives can all be contributing factors to your success.
It is important to track these initiatives in your marketing automation software as well to make sure you're capitalizing on bringing in leads from different areas.
5. Understand Your Real Sales Cycle Timeline.
B2B sales cycles are typically much longer than B2C cycles, so you need to take this in to account in your marketing and sales planning
If you have 80 percent of your leads about to close, but nothing is in the middle of your pipeline, you're going to have a prosperous month one and then go on to month three or four with almost nothing because you weren’t building your pipeline.
Make sure to strategize based on your sales cycle so that your entire sales funnel is being nurtured at all times.
6. Educate Your Prospects.
Most companies have clients that fit into various personas – each with a different need. There is no “one size fits all” method for sales today. Modern sales is about focusing on educating each prospect with specific content targeted to their needs.
Think about their company and what their needs are; then, you can focus on helping them solve their problems, not just pitching your services.
7. Do Thought Leadership Right.
Thought leadership is one of the biggest buzzwords in online marketing. Done right, though, it really does make a profound difference in sales timing and value.
Why? Sooner or later, buyers must move beyond the “gathering information” phase and compare your brand with competitors.
This is when it’s time to establish not only what you do better, but why it’s better.
Consider these powerful persuasion tactics:
- Quantitative research showing your product’s effectiveness (preferably by a third party).
- Endorsements from influential names in the prospect’s industry or area of specialization.
- Interviews or other content featuring your company’s top leaders in their own words.
Each of these approaches goes beyond the norm by contributing social proof – enhancing the sense your message is truly groundbreaking by using others’ prestige.
When these techniques are used together, they make your solutions more likely to be chosen over your rivals’.
8. Give Them More Contact Options.
Not only are your prospects at different stages of the buyers journey, but prospects are also going to want to communicate in different ways.
Do they prefer email, a quick phone call, scheduling a meeting time, or using a chatbot to communicate?
Businesses have already started to use Facebook Messenger bots as a way to provide customer service to their prospects and clients – and this is only going to get bigger throughout 2020 and beyond. Find how your prospects like to communicate and converse with them there.
9. Make It Easy.
Everyone knows time is limited. Everyone is glued to their smartphones with no time to even look up.
To get your message across, you need to find your target market on the channels they live and search in, provide them valuable content, and then provide value for a very specific need.
This is where your content library is key. Creating resources (e.g., blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.) that fit each one of your personas' challenges can make your visitors' lives easier, which can potentially entice them to buy from you.
10. Look Into Paid Search and Keyword Bidding.
Although inbound marketing has a focus on organic traffic and SEO, small businesses have the option of using paid advertising strategies to increase sales. You can leverage this kind of strategy if you're looking to see results quickly.
Also known as pay per click (PPC) advertising, paid search involves bidding on particular keywords so business webpages appear in a prominent place on search engine result pages.
Paid Search vs. Organic
Paid search is a boon to many small businesses that want to show up on relevant searches that make them more visible to their target audience.
However, paid search is more costly than simply engaging in standard inbound marketing techniques.
Businesses tracking key performance metrics will likely notice that cost per click or cost per conversion of each lead will be greater for paid than for organic, where you build relationships with leads naturally and having them come to you.
How to Avoid High Costs on Keyword Bidding
In addition to the added cost of PPC, businesses must ensure that they are bidding on keywords effectively.
High competition keywords mean more money put toward bidding, making small businesses unlikely to afford keywords coveted by larger companies.
To prevent paying too much money on keywords, small businesses should look at long tail keywords, or keywords that are made up of three or more words.
These long tail keywords are less expensive for bids and may even allow your targeted audience to find you more efficiently because queries are more specific.
Small businesses can use free tools like Keyword Planner available via their Google Ads account to determine the popularity and relevance of certain keywords that describe their:
Products and services
Questions related to customer problems
While B2B sales brings its own set of challenges, there are also just as many opportunities for success.
It is a hot topic in the industry, and I think marketers and sales professionals alike are going to see a lot of new trends throughout 2021. How are you going to increase your B2B sales this year and beyond?