Let’s start simple.
What is a B2B Sale/lead?
B2B is shorthand for “Business to Business”, and refers to companies, or sales representatives that sell products/services primarily to other companies, instead of directly to consumers. By extension, B2B leads are organizations, or individual representatives of organizations with an interest in what you’re selling. This interest is typically displayed with an exchange of contact information, like email ID’s, phone numbers etc.
Markets can also be divided into further categories under keen observation.
B2B sales: business-to-business sales are sales interactions where businesses transact with other businesses.
B2C sales: business-to-customers sales are sales interactions where businesses transact with consumers.
B2G sales: business-to-government sales are sales interactions where businesses transact with governments.
C2C sales: consumer-to-consumer sales are sales interactions where consumers transact with consumers, like eBay.
The B2B market has several latent characteristics.
- Much larger transactions – On average, the B2B market is near twice the size of a B2C market, transactions in the B2B space are in the thousands and millions, billions even. The global B2C market is $250 billion in value, while the global B2B market is $560 billion.
- More difficult – Unlike when dealing with regular consumers, B2B sales deals with professionals who’re trained to get the best possible deal. Buyers are experts, so B2B salespeople have to match up.
- More stakeholders – Depending on what you’re selling, a B2C product usually only has a single stakeholder involved in the transaction. In a B2B market, however, there are various stakeholders, like the marketing, sales, product team who’re affected by what you’re offering.
- Increased purchase time – Given the difficulty of the sale, and the number of stakeholders involved, the average purchase time for a B2B transaction is much longer than that of a B2C sale.
- More value sensitive – Unlike consumers, companies are far more quality and value sensitive, and look for the product or service that best suits their needs.
It is because of these reasons and a lot more besides that B2B sales has drastically changed over the past couple of decades.
In the pre-internet era, B2B sales were contingent on the principle of information asymmetry, defined by economists as “transactions where one party has more or better information than the other”. Before the internet, buyers had to approach the seller early in the sales process in order to research their purchase. Once contacted, the seller could exert influence over the buyer, and simply force a sale using a hard pitch. This asymmetry creates an imbalance of power, to create a seller-side monopoly of knowledge.
Every time the buyer came to the seller for additional information about the product or the industry, the seller would extract another pound of flesh, and the buyers hated this process. But as the internet came to the forefront and information became more easily accessible, the sales-side leverage started to fade. From product reviews, pricing estimates, and feature comparisons, prospective buyers can now research products, companies, competitors and industries from the luxury of their own home.
Buyers today want to buy, but they don’t want to be sold to. This means salespeople have had to completely change their approach. The best pitches from the most successful sales reps today aren’t pitches at all; they’re consultations. Salespeople that listen for opportunities to help, teach and delight the buyer are those that complete sales and create loyal customers.
Different types of B2B transactions require different types of tactics, to maximize the potential for a successful sale.
There are three categories of B2B sales
The first category of B2B sales involves selling products that meet a businesses needs, so work supplies, or ancillary equipment for laptops and computers. The sales process and funnel are largely similar to a B2C flow, with a few exceptions like additional hurdles to get purchase approval from a department head. The higher the value of the transaction or the more complicated the product is; the longer the sales cycle will take and the more stakeholders will be involved in the transaction.
The second category of B2B sales is selling components that the business will then use to manufacture its own products i.e. raw materials. For example, a metal merchant would sell his produce to car manufacturers. In this regard, we see this type of B2B sales all around us, as wholesalers sell to retailers, and retailers who sell to consumers. An example could be a farmer, who sells his produce to local grocery store chains.
The third category would be B2B sales that service based, as opposed to product based. Certain B2B transactions do not involve the transfer of ownership of a physical commodity, but instead, deal with a service that is provided; tax consultancy. A tax consultant who specializes in business taxes works with businesses and is, therefore, a B2B service transaction.
Regardless of which category you fall under, you’d want to maximize your leads. But far too often, they slip through your fingers.
As the internet came to be the primary mode of corporate communication en scale, prospects moved further away from the personalized questions that came with traditional sales. The simplest and most evident example of this revolution-gone-wrong comes from your greatest generator of high-quality, interested leads, almost all of whom go ignored.
Hundreds, if not thousands of interested prospects come to visit your website and sift through your offerings every day. They’re greeting with a barrage of information about how you’re the best in your industry, how many customers you have and the awards you’ve won, but is that what they’re really there for?
Much like the buyers of the past, they’re there for information; questions, and more accurately, answers. But because they’re on a computer a thousand miles away, one of two things will happen.
- They will spend the next half an hour scouring your website to get that answer. (unlikely)
- They won’t get their answer and leave. (likely)
And when customers in your target market are left untouched, they eventually go to one of your competitors.
So how do I stop losing my B2B leads?
Instead of letting prospective customers simply slip through your website, return to the original art of B2B Sales: Conversation.
A B2B company, for example, identifies three major data points that are required to set up a meeting or demo with a prospective client who’s on their website. These three data points are the clients’ number, their email ID, and their name.
Using a conversational Sales platform, you can talk to, generate and qualify your leads 24/7, regardless of where they are, using metrics like what they’re looking at on your site and how long they’re there for.
If you visit Verloop’s homepage, you’re can talk to our A.I. powered Sales specialist, Sia. 👆🏻
By the time you’ve reached this sentence, you’ve probably been greeted with this prompt.
If you have any questions, go ahead. Give her a try. ❤