Business to business, most commonly known as B2B, refers to companies or salespeople who sell products directly to other businesses and not consumers. The other business becomes their customer.
B2B sales generally have two types. The first is selling products that meet a business's needs, i.e., office supplies. The second B2B type of sales is selling components that the business will use to manufacture its own products, i.e., a window manufacturer selling their windows to a sunroom manufacturer.
But how does it exactly work?
Let us explain, first you must make it known your business exists by marketing/increasing brand awareness. You must also develop relationships with other businesses. This is critical due to the fact this isn't selling directly to consumers. A long-lasting relationship is needed for B2B sales to be successful. And of course, you must have an effective sales strategy.
Regardless of the two different types of B2B sales, there are tons of different strategies that both types of B2B sales can utilize. But, what are the best and the most popular? Which ones should I be using? We put together an extensive list including data, statistics, and everything you need to know about the most common, unique, and essential B2B sales strategies.
Some Examples of B2B Companies:
- J.P. Morgan- offers financial services to other businesses in need
- FedEx- while they also sell to individual consumers, they also are B2B. For example, online stores use them to ship products.
- Salesforce- a service provided to other businesses to maintain customer/prospects for sales and/or marketing-related functions
- American Axle- sells axle parts to car manufacturers
The Most Popular B2B Sales Strategies
With endless amounts of different strategies, you may be struggling to decide which strategy works best for your business. Although it depends on the type of B2B service you are offering, we have gathered a few of the most popular B2B sales strategies that you can use to lead to effective results/sales. Let's take a look.
1. Strategic Selling
Strategic selling is a tactic that focuses on helping businesses win complex deals. Basically, you sell to more than just one contact. Suppose you find a business that would benefit from using your product. In that case, you want to approach the person in charge of the buying decision and anyone who works within that business that is either looking for the product, in charge of a department, or any employee who may influence the buyer's overall decision.
Example: A marketing firm requires graphic designs for their sales presentation. Instead of only reaching out to the Marketing Manager (who is most likely in charge of the purchasing decisions), you first reach out to the Creative Manager.
There's a reason this works. Because you aren't stuck with one prospect, although they don't hold the buying power, you have created this trusted, credible, and long-lasting relationship with the team, rather than just one individual, which can go a long way in marketing.
2. Social Selling
Due to the popularity of social media, it makes sense that social selling has become one of the best and most popular ways to make B2B sales. Many might think this strategy is needed for a B2C (business-to-customer) interaction, but that's not the case! Let's define it first. Social selling is, establishing your business in the defined market and then focusing on building relationships with companies on social media. This includes social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and the latest TikTok, to engage potential buyers. According to Forrester, 85% of B2B buyers prefer to research online, which has increased from 15% just two years ago. In comparison, 62% of buyers say they can develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based only on digital content.
- Social Listening/Analysis- what is being said about the company on social media sites? The best and the worst things.
- Competitive Watch- make your position clear to both your business and your audience.
- Research/Content Creation- keep up with industry trends and developments.
- Sharing/Interaction- reply on social sites, keep people informed
- Act on Data- analyze data gathered on social networking sites and conform your business to that
Using social media to generate leads and close on sales is a semi-new territory that has taken the B2B world by storm. It's effective because the majority of businesses utilize it.
3.) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Pay Per Click (PPC)
Another super effective method of lead generation. SEO is the process of improving traffic to websites from search engines. Example: google 'best cake recipes' the number 1 results would ideally be from a cooking website sharing a cake recipe. PPC is an internet advertising model where an advertiser pays a publisher when the ad is clicked on. I'm sure you see tons of this when scrolling the web! But, how does this help with B2B sales? Let us explain. First, it's great for brand awareness, and it makes it easy to measure results. When you analyze the data and find who's clicking, you know that business is looking into your product. That's generating a great lead! According to Hubspot, About 64% of marketers actively invest time in search engine optimization. When using SEO, make sure you have three questions answered:
- What are people looking for? What do they need?
- How will it be a solution for people?
- How do you convince search engines it's the best and top choice for people searching?
Once you cover those bases, you're a step closer to making your SEO game strong and that much closer to generating top leads.
4.) Account-Based Selling
This is another popular technique used in B2B sales. Instead of targeting only an individual as a lead, the ABS strategy targets the account first. It then identifies multiple potential prospects to reach out to. The typical cycle goes:
- Select Target Accounts- research and find the business you're selling to by searching B2B databases or the other various ways.
- Conduct Research on Accounts- once you find the account, research how they would utilize your product and what solution it would give.
- Identify Decision Makers- determine multiple people who are involved in the decision of buying the product.
Many businesses utilize a third party to help generate leads like Mansfield Sales Partners. Our company specifically helps B2B within the tech industry help generate leads and come up with a plan to help you close on them.
5.) Inbound Marketing
We couldn't forget about this one! Growing in popularity, inbound marketing is a method used to attract customers by creating valuable content that is tailored to them. This can go hand in hand with social selling, SEO, and PPC. It's slightly different due to the fact that it can tell more about the brand than an ad can or a quick social media post. For this to work properly, sales and marketing need to be a team and strategize together to make their product valuable to certain prospects looking. The strategy can be applied in three ways, according to HubSpot.
- Attract- draw in the right customers with valuable content only. Conversations that establish you are trustworthy and an approachable salesperson.
- Engage- presenting insights and give solutions that align with their plan/product make them know why they should buy from you
- Delight- provide help and support no matter what to customers to find success within their purchase.
Other B2B Sales Strategies
Now, there are many other B2B sales strategies. With the wide range of B2B sales strategies available, it is important to be proactive, testing approaches and analyzing which ones work and do not work for your business. Some of the best strategies involve a holistic approach where multiple channels are being utilized. It is important to keep in mind other B2B sales strategies which can prove to be effective for your particular business, even if they are less widely used overall. Find a list of even more B2B sales strategies outlined below:
1.) Cold Calling
One of the longest lasting and most effective B2B sales techniques has been around for decades, and that's cold calling. Despite being seen at times as an “old school” sales tactic, it can be beneficial, but only if you do it right. 'Cold Calling' is defined as a salesperson contacting potential customers who have not expressed interest in your product. You hope that you make a compelling call that gets them to buy.
Cold calling became a thing in the 1800s, and has worked effectively for many businesses ever since. It proves to be an extremely effective method, especially during this point in time when people didn't have access to the internet. Today, you might think “How could I call someone with no information on them or their business and expect to generate a lead?” Sure, this is a fair point, but even today, cold calling has a higher success rate than you might think. It plays a big part in many successful B2B sales plans today.
2.) General Content Marketing
Many businesses are using a general content marketing approach try to reach people who are high up in a company using social media posts or blogs. Though it can be difficult to get their attention this way, content marketing that is strategically planned and generates true value will always be effective. When taken into consideration with some of the other sales strategies outlined above, general content marketing continues to be yet another effective method your business can utilize to generate leads.
3.) Outbound Sales
Outbound sales are based on prospecting a potential customer who has not yet expressed interest in the product. This could include hosting webinars and even door-to-door sales. Also, outbound goes hand-in-hand with cold calling as well. ROI (return on investment) can be lower than inbound marketing (as mentioned above), but outbound sales can still play an important role in generating high-quality leads.
Despite the existence of other popular B2B sales methods, there is still value in experimentation and finding out a winning combination that works for your business. Outbound sales can be extremely effective when you have a plan to execute it properly and are still marketing your product to the right prospects.
When it comes to finding the right combination of B2B sales tactics, we know that it’s not an easy feat. That is where our team at Mansfield Sales Partners comes in. We help build comprehensive sales plans that take into account the variety methods out there, finding the ones that work best for you. Contact us today.
The Success of Lead Generation Tactics
Don't worry. We have the data to prove what we are saying is the truth. When we say these strategies work, we truly mean it. Spotio gives in-depth numbers based on all different kinds of B2B strategies. Let's look into some of the ones we mentioned above.
This can be a complex, long process, but we want to dive into the overall statistics on B2B sales that do not focus on a specific sales strategy.
- Gartner Group says, In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions
- B2B buyers are 57% to 70% through buying research before contacting sales.
- 9 out of 10 B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on purchasing decision
- 62% of B2B buyers say a web search was one of the first three resources to learn about a solution.
- The average Lead to Close length is 102 days (Source: Salesforce)
These numbers go to show what strategies truly work and what do not. Now let's go into the numbers of some of the popular B2B sales strategies we've mentioned.
- 65% of salespeople who use social selling fill their pipeline
- 78% of salespeople who use social media outsell their peers
- 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executive use social media to make purchasing decisions
- 31% of B2B professionals say that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with prospects.
- Sales reps who use social selling are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their quota.
As you can see by the data collected, social selling is a great strategic way to sell in today's world. Try it out and see how it works for your B2B sales.
- 46% of marketers reported that inbound marketing gave a higher ROI
- 77% of B2B purchasers said that they would not even speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research
- 94% of B2B buyers will research online before finalizing a purchase.
- When asked which marketing tactic provides higher quality leads for the sales team, 59% of marketers responded inbound
- 47% of buyers view 3-5 pieces of the company's content before talking with a sales representative.
The numbers say it all. Inbound marketing works! Don't let the word 'marketing' fool you. This is still a sales tactic. It's just a new way to do it in the business world, and it's being proven that it works. Try it out and see for yourself!
As you can see, there is an endless amount of B2B strategies proven to work. If you're wondering which one is the best for you, well that's for you to decide. We recommend creating a strong marketing team to help in social selling, PPC, SEO, and inbound marketing strategies. Working together can make you stronger in the age of tech.
We also recommend using a third party to help out. Get in touch with us at Mansfield Sales Partners. Since 2006, we’ve helped hundreds of companies grow and map out strategic sales plans while also helping generate the best leads. You can contact us here.
B2B can be intimidating, but it's needed. Business-to-business is essential for the economy. However, to be successful, you have to do it right. Follow these B2B sales methods for the best outcome in your business.