Sales Strategy

B2B Sales: Definition, Process, and Techniques in 2024

lemlist team
LAST UPDATED
March 25, 2024
READING TIME
7 min.

In B2B sales (for business-to-business sales), companies aren't just selling products or services but navigating complex relationships, negotiations, and strategic partnerships.

Unlike simple B2C transactions, B2B sales demand a deep understanding of clients' unique needs and challenges so that tailored solutions can be offered.

In this article, you'll find everything you need to fully understand B2B sales and how to set up your own B2B sales processes for success.

What is B2B sales

B2B sales, for business-to-business sales, are transactions between companies instead of individual consumers. This means that products or services are marketed and sold to other businesses for various purposes, from supporting their operational needs to integrating within their offerings.

B2B sales typically have more complex processes, often requiring alignment among multiple stakeholders within the purchasing organization.

Successful B2B sales depend on understanding prospective business customers’ unique needs and pain points, offering tailored solutions, and cultivating lasting relationships with clients.

What's the difference between B2B and B2C sales

B2B sales involve selling products or services from one business to another, while B2C sales include selling products or services directly to individual consumers.

In B2B sales, the buyers are typically other businesses, and the purchases are often made for operational purposes, to support their products or services, or to facilitate their business processes.

These transactions typically involve larger order sizes, longer sales cycles, and decision-making processes that may require alignment among multiple stakeholders within the purchasing organization.

On the other hand, B2C sales target individual consumers, and the transactions are usually smaller in scale, with purchases made for personal use.

B2C sales often involve shorter sales cycles, less complex decision-making processes, and marketing strategies.

What is a B2B sales representative

A B2B (business-to-business) sales representative sells products or services from one business to another.

Their core responsibilities include prospecting leads, nurturing relationships, understanding client needs, and closing deals.

These representatives do cold calling, conduct product presentations, negotiate contracts, and provide post-sale support. They collaborate with different internal departments to ensure client satisfaction and revenue growth.

Successful B2B sales reps have strong communication skills, industry knowledge, and the ability to navigate complex sales processes.

What's the difference between b2b outside sales reps and b2b inside sales reps

Outside sales reps engage in face-to-face interactions, often traveling to meet clients personally, while inside sales reps conduct their activities remotely, typically through phone, email, or online platforms.

Outside sales reps focus on building relationships through personalized service and on-site demonstrations, while inside sales reps leverage technology for prospecting, qualification, and presentations.

Common examples of B2B sales

Here are 5 examples of how companies in different industries offer tailored solutions, build long-term relationships, and sell their products or services to other organizations:

1. Technology Industry:

E.g., Oracle Corporation: Their sales representatives work closely with enterprises to understand their business processes and challenges. They offer enterprise software solutions such as database management systems, ERP software, and cloud services, providing scalable and customizable solutions that streamline operations.

2. Consulting Industry:

For example, McKinsey & Company: Their consultants collaborate with executives and management teams in client organizations to identify strategic opportunities. Through in-depth analysis and industry expertise, they deliver actionable recommendations that help businesses achieve their goals.

3. Manufacturing Industry:

For example, ABB Group: Their sales teams engage with industrial customers to understand their automation and energy needs. They offer a comprehensive portfolio of robotics, power, and automation solutions tailored to improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and optimize resource usage.

4. Financial Services Industry:

For example, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.: Their relationship managers work closely with corporate clients to understand their financial objectives and challenges. They offer banking and financial services, including commercial lending, treasury management, and investment banking solutions to meet each organization's unique needs.

5. Healthcare Industry:

For example, GE Healthcare: Their sales teams collaborate with healthcare providers to address their clinical and operational needs. They offer medical imaging systems, diagnostic equipment, and healthcare IT solutions, enabling hospitals and clinics to deliver high-quality patient care.

The anatomy of the modern B2B sales process

What is the B2B sales process

The B2B sales process is the systematic sequence of activities and interactions businesses use to identify, engage, qualify, and ultimately secure sales with other companies.

It involves various stages to grow revenue, from prospecting and initial contact to negotiation and deal closure.

Key components of the B2B sales process include:

  1. Research: Gather information about potential prospects' industries, market positions, and challenges through sources like company websites, social media, and industry reports to understand their needs.
  2. Prospect: Identify leads fitting your target customer profile and initiate contact through channels like cold calling, cold emailing, and networking events to start a conversation and lay the foundation for further engagement.
  3. Qualify: Assess prospects based on criteria such as budget, authority, need, and timeline (BANT) to determine their readiness to buy and fit with your solution.
  4. Pitch: Present your product or service using compelling storytelling to communicate its value and differentiate it from competitors.
  5. Manage Objections: Address and overcome any concerns or objections the prospect raises during the sales conversation by actively listening, empathizing, and providing relevant information that builds trust.
  6. Close: Ask for the prospect's commitment to move forward with the purchase, present pricing options, negotiate terms, and create a sense of urgency to finalize the deal.
  7. Nurture: Maintain and strengthen the relationship with the customer post-sale by providing ongoing support, follow-up communication, and additional resources. This will help you ensure satisfaction and reduce churn while opening opportunities for upselling, cross-selling, and referrals.

How to create a successful B2B sales process

A successful B2B sales process involves careful planning, execution, and continuous optimization.

Here are steps to help you develop an effective B2B sales process:

Step 1: Define your ICP

Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience, their needs, pain points, and buying behaviors. Identify ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and create buyer personas to tailor your approach effectively.

You can use lemlist's ICP generator (for free!) to create your ICP in seconds.

Step 2: Define your goals and objectives

Establish clear and measurable sales goals aligned with your business objectives. Determine key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and evaluate the success of your sales process.

Step 3: Map out your sales process

Outline the steps in your sales process, from prospecting and lead generation to closing deals and post-sale support. Define the criteria for moving prospects from one stage to the next and establish clear milestones.

Step 4: Provide sales enablement tools and resources

Equip your sales team with the tools, resources, and training to navigate the sales process effectively. To support their efforts, provide access to CRM systems, sales collateral, product demos, and sales training programs.

Step 5: Implement lead generation strategies

Use inbound and outbound lead generation strategies to attract potential customers and fill your sales pipeline. This may include content marketing, social media outreach, email campaigns, networking events, and targeted advertising.

B2B sales challenges

Here are the five most significant challenges facing B2B sales in 2024:

1. Adapting to Digital Transformation

As businesses increasingly rely on digital tools and platforms, B2B sales teams must adapt their strategies to engage with customers in digital environments effectively. This means leveraging analytics and automation to boost sales processes and customer experiences.

2. Personalization at scale

B2B sales teams must develop robust data analytics capabilities and implement scalable personalization strategies to deliver tailored solutions to each prospect.

Luckily, some sales automation tools, such as lemlist, allow you to send hyper-personalized sequences based on each lead's interactions on autopilot!

3. Longer sales cycles

B2B sales cycles are becoming more prolonged and complex, with multiple stakeholders involved in decision-making.

Sales teams must navigate these extended cycles by providing comprehensive information, addressing concerns promptly, and maintaining consistent communication to secure deals.

4. Remote selling challenges

The shift towards remote work necessitates adjustments in how B2B sales teams engage with prospects and customers.

Overcoming the challenges of building rapport, delivering effective presentations, and closing deals in virtual environments requires innovative approaches and know-how of digital communication tools.

5. Modern buyers are often highly skeptical

Modern buyers trust peer recommendations and value insights from industry colleagues and contacts. These buyers approach purchasing decisions keenly, aware of risks ranging from financial concerns to performance outcomes.

To effectively engage modern B2B buyers, sellers must prioritize building credibility, leveraging social proof, and clearly and confidently addressing buyer concerns.

The essential B2B sales techniques that work in 2024

Here are some key B2B sales techniques and tactics that are driving success in 2024:

1. Hyper-personalization

Instead of generic outreach, use advanced data analytics and AI tools to create highly personalized messages and offers tailored to each prospect's needs, pain points, and preferences.

This approach significantly increases engagement and conversion rates.

For example, with lemlist's AI, you can create fully personalized multichannel outreach sequences in seconds!

2. Multichannel approach

Build a solid presence on relevant social media platforms like LinkedIn, where B2B decision-makers often engage.

Share valuable content, participate in industry discussions, and leverage social networks to establish credibility, nurture relationships, and generate leads.

Here's a free playbook on how to turn LinkedIn engagement into $$$ and book over 30 meetings in 30 days!

3. Value-focused selling

Shift the focus of your sales conversations from product features to outcomes and results. Work closely with prospects to identify their specific goals and quantify the potential impact of your solution.

Check out terms of cost savings, revenue growth, productivity gains, or other relevant metrics. This approach helps buyers see the direct value of investing in your offering.

10 most important metrics that measure performance in B2B sales

By tracking these specific metrics, companies can gain valuable insights into their B2B sales efforts' effectiveness, identify improvement areas, and make data-driven decisions.

  1. Revenue Generated: Measure the revenue generated from B2B sales activities over specific periods, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually.
  2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Determine the cost incurred to acquire each new customer, including expenses related to marketing, sales, and other customer acquisition efforts.
  3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Calculate the total revenue generated from a customer over their entire relationship with the company. Compare CLV to CAC to assess the long-term profitability of acquiring and retaining customers.
  4. Win Rate: Measure the percentage of leads or opportunities that convert into closed deals. This indicates the effectiveness of your sales team in converting prospects into customers.
  5. Sales Pipeline Metrics: Track metrics such as the number of leads generated, conversion rates at each stage of the sales pipeline, average deal size, and pipeline velocity. This helps identify potential bottlenecks and optimize sales processes.
  6. Customer Retention Rate: Measure the percentage of customers retained over a specific period. A high retention rate indicates strong customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  7. Churn Rate: Calculate the percentage of customers lost over a specific period. High churn rates may indicate dissatisfaction with products or services or ineffective account management.
  8. Upsell/Cross-sell Revenue: Track the revenue generated from upselling or cross-selling additional products or services to existing customers. This indicates the effectiveness of your efforts to expand customer accounts and increase revenue.
  9. Sales Activity Metrics: Monitor metrics such as the number of calls or emails made, meetings scheduled, demos conducted, and proposals sent by sales reps. This helps assess the productivity and effectiveness of your sales team in engaging prospects and driving sales.
  10. Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT): Gather customer feedback to measure their satisfaction with your products, services, and overall experience. This provides insights into areas for improvement and helps identify opportunities to enhance customer relationships.

Conclusion

Successful B2B sales strategies depend on building strong relationships, leveraging data for insights, and employing technology for high efficiency and personalization.

The most successful sales professionals are those who view each client interaction not just as a transaction but as an opportunity to forge lasting partnerships and drive mutual growth.

If you’re looking for a reliable partner that will help you automate a hyper-personalized b2b sales approach and save tons of resources, check out lemlist. This all-in-one outreach solution will help you find, verify, contact, and convert prospects in 1 platform!

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Complex sales structures and businesses of all sizes
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Companies with modern sales culture and businesses who want real-time insights
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Powerful automation
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Companies with scalable needs
Automated Commission Calculations
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CRM
Summary
Backbone of a business's internal operations.
Backbone of customer-centric interactions and operations.
Goal
To centralize and streamline core business processes in a company.
To increase customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty, and boost sales.
Focus
Internal operations and processes across departments (finance, accounting, inventory, supply chain, HR, and sales).
All interactions with leads and customers.
Manages
Internal business data like financial data, inventory levels, production details, supply chain, HR info.
All customer data like contact info, purchase history, communication history, customer preferences and more.
Users
Finance, accounting, operations, supply chain, and HR departments.
Customer-facing teams like sales, marketing, and customer service.
Benefits
Streamlines operations, improves data accuracy, enhances decision-making, boosts collaboration, increases productivity.
Improves customer relationships, increases sales, strengthens customer service, personalizes marketing campaigns, provides insights.
Price
$150 per user per year on average.
$10 to $30 per user per month on average.
PRM Tool
Rating
Feature
Pro
Con
Mobile App
Integrations
Free Plan
Pricing
4.65
star
star
star
star
star-half
Org-wide alignment
User-friendly layout and database
Suboptimal as a personal CRM
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Lack of tracking system
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Team: $20/month
Business: $45/month
4.7
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Social Media Integration
Easy contact data collection
No marketing/sales features
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Lack of tracking system
square-xmark
7-day trial
$12/month
4.75
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Block Functions
High customization capability
Not a dedicated CRM
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Limited
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Plus: €7.50/month
Business: €14/month
N/A
Open-source
Open-source flexibility
Requires extensive manual input
square-xmark
Limited
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$9/month or
$90/year
3.1
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star
Simple iOS app
Ideal for non-tech-savvy users
iPhone only
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iOS only
Limited
square-xmark
1-month trial
$1.49/month or
$14.99/month
3.6
star
star
star
star-half
Smart Contact Management
Feature-rich and flexible
Reported bugs
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Rich
square-xmark
7-day trial
Premium: $13.99/month
Teams: $17.99/month
4.4
star
star
star
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star-half
Customizable Interface
Customizable for teamwork
Pricey for personal use
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
Standard: $24/member
Premium: $39/member
4.7
star
star
star
star
star-half
Integrated Calling
Integrated Calling
Too sales-oriented & pricey
square-check
Rich
square-xmark
14-day trial
Startup: $59/user/month
Professional: $329/user/month
4.8
star
star
star
star
star
Business Card Scanning
Business Card Scanning
Mobile only
square-check
Limited
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$9.99/month
4.45
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160+ app integrations
Comprehensive integrations
No free app version
square-check
Rich
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14-day trial
$29.90/month or
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Capterra Rating
Free Trial
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4.5
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14-day
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€15/month/seat billed annually
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Versatility and free plan
4.2
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30-day
square-xmark
But it offers reduced price to authorised nonprofit organisations
€25/user/month
€500/user/month billed annually (includes Einstein AI)
Best overall operational CRM
4.3
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square-xmark
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Limited to 3 users
Comprehensive incentive management
€52/user/month billed annually
Small-medium businesses and automation
4.5
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14-day
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€14/seat/month billed annually
€99/seat/month billed annually
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4.1
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star
star
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square-xmark
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Limited 10 users
$9.99/user/month billed annually
$64.99/user/month billed annually
Free plan for very small teams up to 10
CRM goal
Increase the sales conversion rate for qualified leads from marketing automation campaigns by 10% in the next 6 months.
SMART Breakdown
1. Specific: It targets a specific area (conversion rate) for a defined segment (qualified leads from marketing automation).
2. Measurable: The desired increase (10%) is a clear metric, and the timeframe (6 months) allows for progress tracking.
3. Achievable: A 10% increase is possible based on historical data and potential improvements.
4. Relevant: Boosting sales from marketing efforts aligns with overall business objectives.
5. Time-bound: The 6-month timeframe creates urgency and a clear target date.
Actions
Step 1: Refine lead qualification criteria to ensure high-quality leads are nurtured through marketing automation.
Step 2: Personalize marketing automation campaigns based on lead demographics, interests, and behavior.
Step 3: Develop targeted landing pages with clear calls to action for qualified leads.
Step 4: Implement lead scoring to prioritize high-potential leads for sales follow-up.
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Outcomes
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