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B2B Sales Basics: A Starter Guide

Updated: Nov 15, 2023


B2B Sales Basics

Welcome to our starter guide on 'B2B Sales Basics'. In this article, we delve into the complex world of business-to-business sales, providing you with expert insights and proven strategies to succeed in this challenging environment.


We've leveraged the expertise of seasoned professionals like Chris Herbert, a B2B marketing expert, and Karen Kelly, a veteran in B2B sales, to help you navigate the intricacies of B2B sales.


This guide is uniquely crafted, integrating key insights from our blog posts and Karen's insightful podcast, to equip you with the knowledge to overcome B2B sales challenges and unlock success. Let's get started!



Understanding B2B Sales

B2B sales, or business-to-business sales, is a key component of many companies' revenue streams. It involves selling products or services from one business to another.


Unlike B2C (business-to-consumer) sales, where a business sells directly to individual consumers, B2B sales often involve more complex processes and longer sales cycles.


Understanding the basics of B2B sales is crucial for businesses looking to thrive in this space.


B2B sales differ significantly from B2C sales. While B2C sales often involve selling inexpensive products or services to individuals, B2B sales often involve selling high-cost items or services to businesses.


These sales often require the approval of multiple decision-makers within the organization, which can extend the sales cycle.


The B2B sales process typically involves several stages, including prospecting, initiating contact, qualifying leads, presenting an offer, addressing objections, closing the sale, and providing after-sales service.


Understanding the buyer's journey is a crucial part of this process. As discussed in our previous blog post B2B Buyers. Understanding and Engaging Them, understanding this journey can help sales teams tailor their approach to better meet the needs of their prospects and move them through the sales funnel.


As Karen Kelly, an experienced B2B sales professional, emphasized in her podcast, "Understanding your customer's business model, their pain points, and their goals are key to positioning your solution effectively." This insight reinforces the importance of understanding the buyer's needs in B2B sales.

Key Elements of B2B Sales

Building relationships and trust is a crucial part of B2B sales. As we emphasized in our blog post Building Strong B2B Relationships are Built on Trust, trust in business happens at both the individual and organizational level.


Sales professionals need to demonstrate their reliability, truthfulness, ability, and strength to build trust with their prospects.


Understanding the buyer's needs is also crucial in B2B sales. Sales professionals need to understand their prospects' pain points, needs, and goals to offer the right solutions.


This often involves offering solutions, not just products or services, that can help the prospect's business overcome challenges or achieve goals.

Understanding Lead Qualification

In B2B sales, leads are often categorized as either Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).


MQLs are leads that have been identified by the marketing team as more likely to become customers compared to other leads, based on their engagement with the company's marketing content. For example, a lead who downloads a free eBook and regularly opens the company's email newsletters could be considered an MQL.


SQLs, on the other hand, are leads that the sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up. For instance, if a lead requests a product demo or submits a contact form asking for more information, they would then become an SQL.

​Key Performance Indicator

Definition

Example

​Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

​Leads identified by the marketing team as more likely to become customers based on their engagement with the company's marketing content.

​A lead who downloads a free eBook and regularly opens the company's email newsletters.

​Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)

​Leads that the sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow-up.

​A lead who requests a product demo or submits a contact form asking for more information.

Understanding the difference between MQLs and SQLs, and the process of qualifying leads, is crucial in B2B sales. It helps sales teams focus their efforts on the leads that are most likely to convert, improving efficiency and effectiveness.

 

TIP: Sales and marketing teams need to define, decide and agree on their definition of what is considered an MQL and SQL.

 

The Role of Marketing in B2B Sales

Marketing plays a significant role in B2B sales. It's often the marketing team's efforts that bring in leads for the sales team to pursue. As we discussed in our blog post B2B Marketing Basics, marketing teams can use various strategies to attract potential customers.


These strategies include SEO, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing. By identifying and utilizing the keywords that potential B2B customers use when searching for solutions, marketing teams can increase their online visibility and attract more potential customers.


B2B Sales Strategies

There are several strategies that can be effective in B2B sales, including Account-Based Marketing (ABM), Content Marketing, Social Selling, and Email Marketing.


Utilizing events for networking and sales opportunities can also be an effective strategy. As Karen Kelly noted in her podcast, "Networking is a powerful tool in B2B sales. It allows you to establish connections, build relationships, and gain insights that can help you in your sales efforts."

Challenges in B2B Sales and How to Overcome Them

B2B sales often present unique challenges that require strategic solutions. One of the most common challenges is the length and complexity of the B2B sales cycle.


As Karen Kelly, a seasoned B2B sales professional, pointed out in her podcast, "B2B sales cycles can be long and complex, often involving multiple decision-makers and a significant amount of research and negotiation."


Another challenge is building and maintaining strong relationships with clients. In B2B sales, relationships are everything. As we highlighted in our blog post, Building Strong B2B Relationships are Built on Trust, trust is a crucial component of these relationships.


Sales professionals need to demonstrate their reliability, truthfulness, ability, and strength to build trust with their prospects.


Yet another challenge is lead qualification. Understanding the difference between Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and the process of qualifying leads, is crucial in B2B sales.


It helps sales teams focus their efforts on the leads that are most likely to convert, improving efficiency and effectiveness.


So, how can these challenges be overcome? Here are a few strategies:

  1. Understand Your Buyer's Journey: The more you understand about your buyer's journey, the better you can tailor your sales process to meet their needs. This involves understanding their pain points, needs, and goals, and offering solutions that can help them overcome challenges or achieve goals.

  2. Build Trust: As mentioned earlier, trust is a crucial component of B2B sales. This involves not only building trust with your prospects but also maintaining that trust over time. This can be achieved by consistently delivering on your promises, being transparent in your communications, and showing genuine concern for your clients' success.

  3. Improve Lead Qualification: By improving your lead qualification process, you can ensure that your sales team is focusing their efforts on the leads that are most likely to convert. This involves using data and analytics to identify the characteristics of leads that are most likely to become customers, and then focusing your efforts on these leads.

By understanding and addressing these challenges, businesses can improve their B2B sales processes, build stronger relationships with their customers, and ultimately increase their sales.


Conclusion

Understanding the basics of B2B sales can help businesses improve their sales processes, build stronger relationships with their customers, and ultimately increase their sales. By applying the concepts and strategies discussed in this blog post, businesses can take a step towards achieving these goals.

Want to Keep in Touch or Connect?

I've been a marketing professional for over 25 years and have loved every minute of it.... well mostly! I hope that the content we produce is of value and you can use it in your career and your business. Here are ways we can keep in touch and connect:

I'm open to connecting and meeting with you if there's something we can discuss that is of mutual value; is relevant to the content I'm producing, the project and ventures I'm involved with and clients my agency serves. And of course, if you'd like to know how I can help you and your business use marketing to be more successful.

 

This article was created using OpenAI's ChatGPT with expert guidance from Chris Herbert, an experienced B2B marketing professional. It integrates key insights from relevant sources on the Mi6 website, Chris's blog posts, and Karen Kelly's podcast, an experienced B2B sales professional. The unique process of creating this article and the diverse sources of expertise that contributed to it highlight the innovative approach to content creation and the depth of understanding in the field of B2B sales and marketing. Contact us if you're interested in Mi6 helping you use AI to marketing your business.

 

About the Author

Chris Herbert spearheads Mi6 Agency, emphasizing small business growth and entrepreneurship. On the agency's blog, he offers practical marketing insights and solutions to unique challenges faced by businesses. Herbert advocates for sustainable and responsible growth. His "Rural Entrepreneur Podcast" extends this mission, providing essential advice and experiences for entrepreneurs. He adopts a comprehensive approach, focusing on building sustainable businesses, community engagement, and active participation in entrepreneurial ventures.


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