- What is Sales?
- What is B2B Sales?
- What is B2C Sales?
- What is B2G Sales?
- Comparing and Contrasting B2B and B2C
- Common Methodologies for Selling Business-to-Business
- The Basic B2B Sales Process
- Your B2B Sales Organization Structure
- Industry-Specific Trends
- Tips for Increasing sales motivation
- Answers to Common Sales-Related Questions
- What did we miss?
What is Sales?
Sales is an exchange of a product, solution, or service between a prospective buyer and a seller for money or other agreeable terms.
What is B2B Sales?
B2B is an abbreviation for business-to-business and B2B sales are any sales that take place between two companies.
What is B2C Sales?
B2C is an abbreviation for business-to-consumer and B2C sales are sales that take place between a business and an individual buyer.
What is B2G Sales?
B2G is an abbreviation for business-to-government and B2G sales are any sales that take place between a business and a government entity.
Comparing and Contrasting B2B and B2C
There are many similarities between these two types of sales, so let’s focus on the handful of common differences.
- B2B sales typically are more expensive and take longer to complete.
- B2C sales generally only involve one person in the buying decision, so consensus and relationship building are less critical skills.
Common Methodologies for Selling Business-to-Business
While the specifics will vary across industries, geographies, and solutions, there are several common methodologies employed when selling B2B.
What is a sales methodology?
A sales methodology is a set of best practices and processes used to move buyers from prospects to customers.
The most common methodologies include:
The challenger sale is a methodology that focuses on teaching the buyer something new about their business.
3 Things To Know About Challenger Selling
- Challenger sales representatives take a unique approach to each customer and each decision-maker
- They focus on teaching prospective buyers something new about their business
- They are able to win deals by differentiating themselves from the competition
The GAP sales methodology focuses on identifying the differences between the buyer’s current state and their desired future state.
3 Things To Know About GAP Selling
- GAP sales reps help buyers identify the differences between their current state and desired future state.
- They work with buyers to create a plan of potential solutions that will close the gap
- They help potential clients overcome objections so they can make a purchase decision
The Miller Heiman sales methodology focuses on helping the buyer define their buying criteria.
3 Things To Know About Miller Heiman
- The Miller Heiman sales methodology was created in the 1970s
- This selling process focuses on helping the buyer define their criteria
- It is one of the most popular sales methodologies used today
The Sandler sales methodology focuses on building trust and rapport with the buyer.
3 Things To Know About Sandler Selling
- The Sandler sales methodology was created in the 1980s
- The sales process focuses on building trust and rapport with the buyer
- It is a popular sales methodology used by many companies today
SPIN selling is a methodology that uses questions to help the buyer understand their needs.
3 Things To Know About SPIN Selling
- SPIN selling was created by Neil Rackham in the 1980s
- This selling process uses questions to help the buyer understand their needs
- It is a popular sales methodology used by many companies today
Inbound selling is a strategy where you proactively reach out to potential customers who have already shown interest in the solutions you sell.
Consultative selling is a strategy where you focus on providing potential customers with advice and guidance throughout the sales process instead of trying to hard-sell them on your product.
The Basic B2B Sales Process
The most common elements of the B2B sales process are:
Sales forecasting is the process of estimating future sales.
3 Tips for Accurate Forecasting
- Analyze and understand your historical sales data
- Use a sales forecasting tool
- Implement pipeline management
What is Pipeline Management?
Pipeline management is the process of tracking and managing deals as they move through the sales pipeline.
The pipeline, or sales funnel, is the visual representation of all deals your sellers are working on right now.
The Benefits of Pipeline Management
- Helps you forecast future sales (you knew that one was coming)
- Helps you close more deals – by allowing you to know where to focus.
Learn more about Sales Forecasting.
Sales prospecting is the process of identifying potential customers to create a list of potential customers (i.e., your sales pipeline).
Prospecting is most commonly done using one of these approaches:
- Cold outreach via phone calls, emails, or social media.
- Purchasing lists of prospects
- Meeting potential buyers at in-person or remote events, webinars, and conferences.
- Self-selection of prospects who fill in forms on your website.
Learn more about sales prospecting.
Sales qualification is the process of determining whether or not a lead is ready to be passed to sales.
There are many approaches to sales qualification, and two of the most common frameworks being used are:
BANT is an acronym for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time.
It is a framework that helps sellers qualify and prioritize leads.
Learn more about BANT.
MEDDIC is an acronym for Metrics, Economic Buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and Champion
It is a lead qualification process widely used by sales organizations – perhaps even by your sales team.
Learn more about MEDDIC.
Other common sales qualification frameworks
CHAMP Sales Methodology
The CHAMP sales methodology is an acronym for:
- Challenges – What is your prospect’s business challenge?
- Authority – Who is involved in the buying process?
- Money – Is there a budget for solving this problem and what is the budget?
- Prioritization – How important is it to the business to solve this challenge?
FAINT Sales Methodology
The FAINT sales methodology is an acronym for:
- Funds – Is there a budget to solve this business problem?
- Authority – Who can spend the budget?
- Interest – Can you get the budget holder to envision a future state with the problem resolved?
- Need – What problem (s) are going to be solved?
- Timing – Agree on a timeframe to implement your solution and solve the business challenge.
SCOTSMAN Sales Methodology
The SCOTSMAN sales methodology is yet another acronym.
- Solution – Does our solution create revenue, save revenue, or reduce risk
- Competition – Which of our competitors, including the status quo, are already in the deal?
- Originality – What are my unique differentiators?
- Time – When is a solution needed?
- Size – How big is the deal potential?
- Money – Do they have a budget set aside to solve this problem?
- Authority – Who owns the budget? Who owns the decision?
- Need – Does the prospect realize they need to solve this problem?
Sales discovery is the process of learning about a potential customer’s needs in order to determine whether there’s a fit between those needs and your products, solutions, and services.
Consider reading our guide on B2B Sales Discovery Success – 6 Tips, 27 Example Discovery Questions.
Demonstrating is the process of helping prospects understand how your products, solutions, and services can help them overcome their business challenges.
As you get to the end of this stage of the process, reps should be building mutual action plans to collaboratively work with the prospector to move the deal forward to a successful outcome (a win).
Negotiation and Closing
Sales negotiation is discussing and agreeing on the price and terms of the products, solutions, and services with the prospective buyer.
Entering this stage can feel like a complete restart, read our guide to get more of your deals through this part of the journey.
Your B2B Sales Organization Structure
Most business-to-business sales organizations will consist of the following roles.
Inside Sales (BDRs, SDRs)
An inside sales team is often responsible for the majority of sales prospecting and qualification.
Outside/Field Sales (AEs)
Generally, more senior sellers take qualified deals from the inside sales teams and move them forward through the rest of the sales process.
Sales Engineers are responsible for activities that include product demonstrations, proof of concepts (POCs), and other technical evaluations.
They may also be involved in some aspects of post-sale activities such as customer onboarding, training, and technical support.
Sales Skills and Competencies
As you hire and develop your sales organization you will need to have a clear picture of the required skills for each role.
With this information, you can then determine which skills you want to hire and which skills you can train and coach the team to improve up.
Your B2B sales organization requires careful planning, use our guide to sales skills to help you in this process.
Interviewing Sellers for Your Team
And building your sales team will require a great deal of interviews. We’ve put together more interview questions than we can count in our guide to sales interview questions.
If interested, read our articles on the biggest challenges in these industries.
- Sales challenges in Financial Services.
- Challenges in Pharmaceutical sales.
- Sales challenges in Manufacturing.
Tips for Increasing sales motivation
There are several ways to increase sales motivation, including:
There is a multitude of compensation models used for B2B sales.
Here are a few of the most common approaches.
- Straight Salary – The sales rep receives a base salary with no commission.
- Commission – The sales rep is paid a commission on each sale. The commission is a fixed percentage of the sale.
- Hybrid – The sales team is paid partially through a base salary and partially on commission.
The sellers receive additional compensation for hitting pre-defined targets. This bonus might be based upon selling a certain amount of a specific product, achieving a sales number of a particular percentage above quota, etc.
Expense Accounts and Allowances
Field sales often receive mileage allowances, expense accounts to cover taking clients to dinner, and similar types of payments.
Sales contests and competitions
Often, sales contests drive competition across the sales team to sell the most of a specific product or solution.
Sales Training, Coaching, Professional Development
Sales teams require ongoing training and development to stay sharp and up-to-date on the latest selling techniques.
Career Advancement and Promotions
The opportunity to move up in the company and advance one’s career is a major motivator for many salespeople.
Note: There are many problems with incentive programs that must be carefully considered, and we’re not fans of most approaches. Listen to this episode from Marcus Cauchi to gain perspective on the psychological concerns around incentive programs.
Answers to Common Sales-Related Questions
What is sales forecasting?
A sales forecast estimates the number of sales made over a given period.
Learn about sales forecasting in our in-depth article.
Key sales KPIs and metrics
We have covered dozens of key metrics in our article on business metrics.
Give a read of this article to learn more.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a visual model of the process/steps a buyer goes through from the time of awareness of a problem through becoming a customer.
What is a sales pipeline?
A sales pipeline is a visual model of the deals in your sales process, from lead to closed won/lost.
What is a spiff in sales?
A spiff is a sales incentive, often in the form of a commission or bonus, paid to a salesperson for closing a deal.
What is a sales pitch?
A sales pitch is a presentation or pitch given by a salesperson to a potential buyer, usually in an attempt to persuade them to buy a product or service.
What is a sales cycle?
A sales cycle is the time it takes for a buyer to go from initial contact to purchase.
What is a sales quota?
A sales quota is the target number of sales a salesperson is expected to achieve in a given period.
What is a local sales network?
A local sales network is a group of independent salespeople who sell products or services in a given geographic area.
What is a territory in sales?
A territory is a geographic area that a salesperson is responsible for.
What did we miss?
We know this guide is not truly complete — and it never will be.
B2B sales changes rapidly, and what worked a month ago may not work today.
What should we add to our guide now?