When you manage a company that sells exclusively to businesses, you face a whole set of issues that consumer retail businesses do not face. It is easy to find articles on the Internet that give advice and point out tools you can use to sell to consumers, but the business to business sales organizations find it harder to get good advice.
B2B Sales Strategies
A business to business (or B2B) sales organization has to find creative ways to bring in revenue and sustain that revenue to keep the doors open. In order to sustain revenue, you have to know your market, how to reach that market, and the tools at your disposal to increase sales. There are many challenges in selling B2B, but there is a solution for each problem and there are tools you can use to grow your B2B business.
Focus Your Marketing
One of the biggest advantages a consumer retail business has over a B2B business is the broad expanse of a retail target market. A single retail demographic could cover hundreds of thousands of people, while a good B2B demographic may include only a few thousand companies.
When you put your B2B marketing plan together, you need to develop a focused target audience and develop a specific message for each audience. This is going to increase your marketing costs somewhat, but it will also significantly increase the returns you get on your investment. Instead of playing hit and miss, which is what many retail marketing plans do, you will be speaking directly to a customer who will be interested in what you have to offer.
Use An Outside Salesforce
Retail organizations very rarely use outside sales professionals because of the cost involved with having an outside sales force and the obvious lack of need for outside salespeople in the retail world. But in the B2B world, your sales force will be the difference between your success and your failure.
No matter what you sell, you need a personal presence in front of your customers to close the deal. You may decide to only invest in an outside sales force for your larger clients and that makes sense if you sell a wide array of commodity products. But you can rest assured that your competition has an outside sales professional knocking on your clients’ doors and saying some pretty condescending things about your product and maybe even your company. The B2B sales organization with the better outside sales force is the one that finds the most success.
Always Sell To People
The buyers and managers who a B2B sales organization deals with want to be made to feel special. If you want to find financial success with your B2B sales organization, then you cannot act like you are selling to a cold and lifeless corporate entity. You must sell to the individuals in that company and you must learn as much as you can about those individuals to make them feel special.
A very powerful sales and marketing tool you can purchase is client management software that has a mobile application to go with it. Your sales professionals can catalog every detail about every decision-maker at every customer location and use that information to bring in the sales.
Become A Resource
When retail consumers buy a product and the product breaks down after 30 days, retail consumers have been conditioned to deal with the manufacturer for those issues. But when a product breaks down that your B2B sales organization sold to a customer, your customer will call you.
The habit that B2B customers develop of calling a sales organization when a product has an issue is actually an opportunity for your organization. By taking on the responsibility of supporting your customers and being a resource for them, you are also strengthening the bonds with your customers and making it difficult for your competition to go in and take that business away.
Take Nothing For Granted
Even though retail consumers are the same people who do the purchasing in B2B sales relationships, they still develop different buying habits when they are buying products and services for their companies. A retail consumer will tend to buy the same product over and over again because it works for them and they see no need to buy the latest model. But when that same retail consumer gets behind their desk in a corporate purchasing department, their attitude completely changes.
Corporate buyers and managers want the latest technology and they want it before their competition gets it. If you sell widgets that customers use to package orders, then the customers that have Widget Version 4 will want Widget Version 5 the minute it comes out and they want to think that they have it before their competition does.
This issue of having a large audience interested in first-generation technology is one of the biggest things that separates B2B sales organizations from retail sales organizations. For every consumer that stands in line for a week to buy the latest smartphone, there are 100 consumers who have no intention of trading in the phone they have had for the last few years.
As a B2B sales organization, you have to market new products as soon as you can and prepare your customers for the upgrade the moment it comes out. You can increase sales by allowing some of your biggest customers to be beta testers for new products. In the corporate world, businesses love to be on the cutting edge of new technology.
If you sell to businesses, then your marketing approach has to be very different than that of a retail sales organization. Your marketing message has to be versatile and your customer database has to be very comprehensive. Once you accept the differences between retail and B2B sales, then you can start acquiring the tools and personnel you need to go out and expand your company’s bottom line.