It is no secret that selling to B2B customers is challenging. There are times when it may seem almost impossible. There is no doubt that selling is not an easy task. The days when a salesperson was responsible for the entire buying process are long gone.
It is surprising that only 17% of the entire B2B buying process is spent meeting with potential suppliers. Is this to imply that the days of reaching sales quotas are over? Of course not! However, in order to continue closing new deals, you first need to understand the dynamics of modern B2B sales.
Then, you must learn the sales strategies that will assist you in achieving your goals. That is exactly what we will discuss with you today. Here, we will discuss what B2B sales are, how to sell to modern B2B buyers, and practical strategies that you can use to overcome the challenges of modern-day sales.
The term business-to-business (B2B) refers to companies that primarily sell products and services to businesses rather than directly to consumers. It has been observed that B2B sales have higher order values, and longer sales cycles, and are often more complex than B2C sales.
As B2B sales have changed dramatically in recent years, the strategies that worked in the past are no longer effective. The question is, why? What are the changes in B2B sales?
Whenever a person was in need of a product or solution, they would contact a potential vendor and speak to a sales representative, who would provide them with the best options to choose from. Upon hearing what they were interested in, they would make a purchase. Isn’t that easy?
There was a fairly straightforward process, in which marketing was responsible for filling up the sales funnel with leads, and then sales teams were responsible for moving those leads down the sales funnel and into a sale. There was a predictable outcome. Compare that with the purchasing process B2B buyers follow today:
- An individual identifies a problem
- Then they research it online
- Additionally, they conduct further research to discover all possible solutions
- On social media, forums, and other online resources, they ask their friends for recommendations and check what others have to say about a particular solution
- Upon researching this particular solution and reading online reviews, they decide whether or not to use it
- Finally, they may click an ad offering a solution during the sales process
- Make a buying decision based on all the information, and only then
- To complete the sale, they may contact the company
Let’s examine the profile of a modern B2B buyer. It is apparent that the needs of the modern buyer have changed from increased demand for self-service options and online interactions with sellers to a lowered response rate to traditional marketing tactics and a growing concern with data privacy and security.
Modern B2B buyers are younger and more technologically savvy. It has been reported that 60% of all B2B tech buyers are millennials (ages 25-39), followed by 32% of Gen X (ages 42-57).
As younger professionals, they are prone to use digital technologies and online reviews in the buying process, in turn revolutionizing how they purchase goods and services.
One reason is that they prefer to conduct their own research and use the wealth of information available to assist them on their journey. The following five resources are most commonly consulted by new B2B buyers when making purchasing decisions:
- Free trial
- Vendor/product website
- Product demos
- Vendor reps
- User reviews
According to a report, 59% of buyers prefer to conduct their research online rather than interact with a sales representative because the sales representative pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve problems. Meanwhile, salespeople continue to focus on selling rather than assisting prospects in their purchase decision.
The fact that 68% of buyers prefer to interact with salespeople who listen to their needs and provide them with relevant information is not surprising. 57% of respondents said they would prefer a salesperson who doesn’t apply pressure or hassle them when following up. It’s also no surprise that sales teams that incorporate social selling into their strategies tend to perform better than those that do not.
There is one characteristic common to the best salespeople – they are good listeners. In order to sell more effectively, a good listener will utilize the information provided by the buyer.
When it comes to B2B sales, there are four basic categories – producers, resellers, governments, and institutions.
B2B sellers should focus on the customer and their needs rather than on short-term sales that result in commissions and bonuses.
There has been a significant change in B2B sales. Getting prospects to contact you is no longer as simple as waiting for them to approach you. Rather than being reactive, you should find channels where potential customers are and share relevant content with them that addresses their needs.
In addition, you should work closely with your marketing department to use their content as a sales tool in order to move prospects further down the sales funnel. As a result, you will be able to establish stronger business relationships with your buyers, and, more importantly, you will gain their trust, which is the key to success in modern B2B sales.