B2B Sales - How to define a sales strategy and implement it digitally
What defines B2B sales, and what are the different types in times of companies' increasing online activities and digitalized processes? In this guide article, we would like to present you with a few thought-provoking ideas on the B2B sales topic and provide you with practical use cases and opportunities in this field.
Definition of B2B
Business-to-business (B2B) sales refers to the business between two companies, whereby the actual business may consist of services or (industrial) goods. A company that sells software to other companies under a SaaS contract is therefore just as much in the B2B sector as a manufacturing supplier for a car brand.
This is the reason why B2B sales differ fundamentally from B2C, i.e., normal end-customer sales as a result of the special conditions that apply.
Differentiation from B2C
Methods in B2B sales
In B2B sales, there are various methods for concluding a sale. We will briefly introduce each of these in a list. Analyzing it, it is evident that B2B sales and B2B marketing have to work closely together and partly overlap (lead nurturing).
- In cold calling, marketing generates a list of potentially interesting companies that might be interested in the products or solutions, based on a trade fairs list or a yellow pages directory. Then, the sales department contacts these companies by phone and tries to reach a decision-maker to present the suitable product from the company's portfolio. At first glance, cold calling may seem like something from a bygone era, but in our experience, the conversion rate is actually competitive compared to other sales methods.
- Inbound marketing attempts to reach companies interested in the products by generating relevant and exciting content that would be useful to other companies. For example. through offering a white paper, a template for a use case, or a contribution to a discussion on a controversial topic. Furthermore, by means of a free product test phase, it is possible to get the e-mail address and the information regarding a contact person, who can then be contacted after a certain time. So, visitors of the web page can be reached using available content and the registration for the product test.
Trade fairs and events
- Fairs, related to a particular thematic of the product, represent a particularity for the B2B sales because there are a lot of companies that are interested in a certain topic or product area. While it can still make sense for a smaller company to attend a trade fair as a visitor, the larger the company, the more relevant it becomes to have its stand to present its products.
PR and branding
- Public relations is an important field in B2B sales. By positioning the own company as an expert for a certain topic combined with events or other actions, brand recognition among potential customers can be achieved while attracting their attention.
- Print advertising is still an efficient way for many companies in B2B sales to generate attention by promoting their solutions. Especially in industries where there is a lot of attention for trade magazines (e.g., doctors, marketing, etc.), print advertising is worthwhile.
Web demos in software sales
- In B2B sales, software often requires extensive explanation as it may solve a new problem of the potential customer, of whose existence he is not even aware. Generally, unlike physical products offered in B2B, it is necessary to test the software by means of a web demo to show how it works and its benefits to potential buyers.
Strategy development for B2B sales
In the following, we describe a possible process model for introducing and continuously adapting a B2B sales strategy. As shown in the graphic, a strategy is basically never fully implemented as it requires recurring iteration.
- First considering the corporate strategy
The sales strategy to be defined results from the essential aspects of the corporate strategy:
- What type of products do you sell?
- What is the organizational structure of your company?
- How well organized are the different areas of the company (marketing vs. sales)?
- What is the pricing structure for each product?
- Analyzing the market
From the market analysis, you can define other key points to develop the B2B sales strategy:
- Which are the competitors?
- Is the market already established or is it still to be developed?
- How new is the product type and how much explanation does it require?
- Is there a high churn rate or is there long-term customer loyalty for the respective companies?
- Adjusting the product's features
Basically, the product must provide the greatest possible benefit on its own. In contrast to B2C sales, it is not enough to arouse an emotion and thereby encourage the user to choose a new product because of its better design. If so, this new product must bring with it a greater benefit for the potential customer and be easy to explain.
- Defining the sales process
In this phase, a decision must be made on the actual sales structure. Basically, it is not possible to recommend a single sales process that is totally valid at this point, since there are several defining factors:
- Product itself
- Organization of the company,
- Corporate strategy
- Implementing the B2B sales strategy
Since this is not a trivial step, it figures as a separate element in the process model. Whoever leads the process must ensure that, in addition to technical and organizational changes, there is also an awareness of the need for change. If sales employees are reluctant to change old process models and their way of thinking, the B2B sales strategy will rarely be successful.
While the evaluation of the sales strategy should be based on the chosen key sales indicators, the experience and daily work of the sales staff should also be taken into account.
A sales strategy must always be adapted to new developments which, in turn, may be the result of the above-mentioned factors (market, product, corporate strategy, technical innovations). Practically, the strategy development cycle always starts over and is never closed.
Digital processes in B2B sales
Digitalization is a permanent factor in sales and can save a lot of time and money in B2B business, especially if it is combined with a CRM system.
At trade fairs: snapADDY VisitReport
The normal B2B sales process used to be like this at trade fairs: a customer visited the company's stand at the trade fair; the sales representative filled out a printed visit report during the meeting in order to document the information and subsequently transfer it manually to the CRM system; and the business card was simply attached to the form and then the information had to be added manually.
Inside sales: snapADDY DataQuality
Sales is still very much about generating and updating contact data in the CRM system, as this is the basis for successful business performance. Therefore, many sales staff still have to research contacts and addresses by hand. To do this, they usually search for the required data on the well-known business networks and on the imprints of the respective companies, and then copy this data back into the CRM system.
snapADDY also makes this process faster and more efficient. With snapADDY DataQuality, employees only need to enter a company or contact name, and all possible freely accessible sources on the Internet are searched. The automatically compiled contact can then be exported directly into the CRM system - manual processing is no longer necessary!