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The basics of B2B sales

Does your business sell its products or services to other businesses? If you said “yes” then you are involved in B2B sales. B2B sales refer to business-to-business sales. There are a few differences between B2B sales and business-to-customer (B2C) sales. In this article, we will look at the differences between B2B and B2C sales and how you can start to build your sales process for your business customers.

The difference between B2B and B2C sales

There are three main differences between B2B and B2C sales. Let’s take a look at them.

  • More decision makers: With B2B sales, there will be more people making the final decision on which solution suits their situation the best. Therefore you need to be able to pitch your idea to ensure everyone involved sees the value you will bring to the business.
  • Longer sales cycle: With B2C, the customer usually bases their decision-making on emotions or a current need they want to fulfil now. Whereas B2B customers have more considerations such as what the return on investment (ROI) will be. Will the product or service give them the edge they need to dominate the industry? And is this a logical solution to their current and vital pain point in their business?
  • Higher average transactional value: Unlike B2C where high transactional values are limited to certain industries like real estate, automotive industry, and luxury goods. B2B purchases can go from a few rands for stationery for the office to millions of rands for machinery or systems to run the business more efficiently.

With these differences in mind, let us look at how we can build a sales process for your B2B customers.

Step 1: Research your customer

Like with any transaction, you need to understand who your customer is. You may have a range of personas you sell to but you need to clearly define who the people are who you are selling to and what pain point your solution solves. For the B2B persona you will look at the following information:

  • Demographics: age, location, living status, education etc.
  • Company role: What is their current role in the business and how much decision-making authority do they have?
  • Goals: What do they want to achieve professionally and personally?
  • Challenges: What do they need help with in their position?
  • Interests: What are their favourite websites or magazines? This information will inform where you advertise and market to these customers.

STEP 2:  Map out the buyer’s journey

Next, we need to look at what route your potential customers will take when deciding to purchase a product or service. This route generally has three stages awareness, consideration and decision. By knowing where your prospective client is in the buyer’s journey you can ensure you give them the right information to move them to the next stage of the journey.

STEP 3: Qualify your leads

Because the sales cycle is very long with B2B customers and you need to build trust with them, you must have quality leads. You can use the following two frameworks to qualify if the lead should move further through your sales funnel or not. The first is GPCT:

  • Goals: What goals is the prospect trying to achieve?
  • Plans: What plans if any do they have to achieve the goals?
  • Challenges: What challenges are in the way of them achieving their goals?
  • Timing: And lastly, when do they want to achieve it by?

The next is BANT:

  • Budget: Do they have a budget for a solution?
  • Authority: Do they have the authority to make the purchasing decision or are they connected to the person who will make the final decision?
  • Need: Do they require the solution?
  • Timeline: When do they need the solution in place?

STEP 4: Pitch your solution

After you qualified your lead, you can pitch your solution. This is your time to shine and show that the research you have done on your customer was not in vain. Remember to focus on the customer in your pitch and how your solution will benefit them.

STEP 5: Get feedback

Now it is time to listen. Your customer may still have gaps in their understanding of your solution and you need to guide them to see how your solution solves those problems they highlight. You can also choose to teach your customer about solutions or ways to do business better. If the customer learns from you, they will begin to trust you more.

STEP 6: Follow up

Yes, some customers would prefer to have as little contact as possible with a salesperson but you do need to follow up. And this takes some finesse. If you follow up too soon or too often, you will annoy your customer and lose the sale. Rather put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and consider how often or when will be the right time to follow up.

STEP 7: Close the deal

With all the effort you have put into the six steps above, you will be closing the deal. But don’t drop the ball. Many salespeople make a sale and move on but making sure your customer has great after-sales service ensures they become brand advocates for you.

With these basic steps in place, you will have a great start to your B2B sales.

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