B2B sales are unique in their culture. While it overlaps with that of B2C transactions, the B2B sales culture has several key characteristics that set it apart.
This applies just as strongly when you look at online sales (especially since B2B is now moving strongly in that direction). Knowing how to cater to B2B requirements is absolutely essential: understand the B2B sales landscape, and you will drive more sales.
To that end, read on to discover 5 key sales culture differentiators you should know about.
The rational triumphs over the emotional
In B2B sales, the head wins over the heart. B2C sales can be won through manipulation of feelings, appealing to the heart and eliciting an emotional response from the consumer. Such a market naturally leans towards the use of fun slogans and emotional marketing to encourage consumers to purchase.
But in B2B sales, the opposite is true. You’re not dealing with people with disposable income that they can spend as they like. You’re selling to people with tight budgets, business goals to hit, and managers to satisfy. And buying online allows for reasoned consideration, not typically involving the persuasive power of interpersonal interactions.
Consequently, the digital B2B sales culture is one that is rational, backed by hard data that meets those unique consumer needs. You need to convince your prospects that, by purchasing your product or service, they can better meet the needs of their businesses.
It requires customer relationships that last
Every sales culture places value on the relationship between a business and the consumer. From the moment you interact with a new prospect to the end of the transaction and beyond, a positive relationship fosters sales every step of the way.
Naturally, relationships are important to B2C sales — every business depends on repeat business. And with a virtually unlimited potential market of consumers from a variety of demographics, commercial brands can afford to lose a few repeat customers.
But with B2B sales, there is generally a more limited pool of prospective clients. Your target market is limited, and as such more value is placed on strong, lasting relationships. Such a connection ensures your clients return to you time and again for repeat sales for your business. This is no different online — in fact, given the prevalence of auto-renewing subscriptions and standing orders, it might be more valuable.
To that end, put relationships at the core of your B2B sales training. It is this that will drive sustained sales, encouraging repeat customers that will stay with you for a lifetime. And while it might be harder to provide personal service online, it’s perfectly possible through maintaining a robust support system and frequently reaching out through email or phone.
Associates require deep industry knowledge
A B2B sales associate should be knowledgeable and experienced, well-versed in the intricacies of the product or service they are selling. B2C sellers can get away with perusing some company materials and a short training course, but B2B associates don’t have this luxury.
B2B sales reps have to justify their product to smart, industry professionals who know their stuff. Unlike most B2C customers, B2B buyers are actively looking for flaws in your product — they’re not going to part with their money (or rather, their business’s money) for a poor product.
Consequently, B2B associates should have an intimate knowledge of what they’re selling. That knowledge should be tailored to your client’s wider business goals, erudite enough to convince the decision-makers that your product is the one they need. They should also be putting that knowledge to great use in blogging, a key element for modern B2B.
There are more people to please
The time it takes for a B2C customer to make a purchase is, in general, fairly short. It doesn’t take long to persuade someone to buy a new t-shirt, and it takes even less time when it comes to smaller purchases such as food or drinks.
Further to this, the number of stakeholders in a B2C purchase is generally quite low. Aside from big purchases like a car or a new kitchen, most transactions require only one person to be convinced.
In a B2B sales culture, however, this is not the case. Investing in a new software system, for example, is a huge undertaking for a business. It requires careful consideration, ensuring it meets the business’s requirements, is handled through the correct departments, has a team standing by for its implementation, and so on.
There are also a lot more stakeholders to please in a B2B sales transaction. From your initial contact to the senior decision-makers in a firm (not to mention any teams impacted by the purchase), you’ll require a lot more people to sign off on a transaction before it can go through.
Integrated technology is essential
As noted, B2B buyers of today are different from those in years past. Consequently, ecommerce is now a vital part of a B2B sales culture — it’s a necessity, not a luxury. And since the basic demands of B2B remain the same, you need an ecommerce platform designed for B2B: something powerful and highly personalizable.
A good B2B storefront is one that delivers a consumer-friendly experience that combines the ease of B2C ecommerce with B2B integrations. Such a platform streamlines the buying process, reducing friction by providing a wealth of information to cover all the bases in an easy-to-use interface.
Indeed, technology can — and should — be used at every stage of the B2B sales process. Dedicated B2B customer-relationship management tools can help you identify and nurture leads in the first instance. Integration is key. All your systems should work together to create a seamless sales funnel.
Take LeadSquared, for instance. It’s a sophisticated solution that streamlines your sales funnel and lets you quantify and target your sales outreach from start to finish.
B2B sales have changed and will continue to do so. A good B2B sales culture should embrace the tech and tools available to foster sales and stay ahead of your competitors for time to come.
B2B sales culture vs. B2C sales culture
The sales culture features listed above indicate just how different a B2B sales culture is from B2C — and how the move to digital sales has changed things. Armed with the knowledge above, you can create a sales culture that values lasting relationships, embraces consumer-friendly technology, and embraces a deep knowledge of your product to help you grow well into the future.
This guest blog article was written Rodney Laws who is an eCommerce platform specialist and online business consultant. He’s worked in the eCommerce industry for nearly two decades, helping brands big and small to achieve their business goals. You can get his advice for free by visiting Ecommerce Platforms and reading his detailed reviews. For more tips and advice, contact to Rodney on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.