In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Introduction to Business-to-Business Selling 2. Process for B2B Sales 3. B2B Selling Techniques 4. Selling Approach 5. Entrepreneurial Philosophy 6. Selling Structure 7. Direct Sales Force 8. Sales Coverage through Manufacturer’s Representative and Distributors 9. Customer Relationship Management 10. Activities to Build Sustainable Customer Relation.


  1. Introduction to Business-to-Business Selling
  2. Process for B2B Sales
  3. B2B Selling Techniques
  4. Selling Approach
  5. Entrepreneurial Philosophy
  6. Selling Structure
  7. Direct Sales Force
  8. Sales Coverage through Manufacturer’s Representative and Distributors
  9. Customer Relationship Management
  10. Activities to Build Sustainable Customer Relation

1. Introduction to Business-to-Business Selling:


Business to Business is a type of commerce transaction that exists between businesses, such as those involving a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. Business to business refers to business that is conducted between companies, rather than between a company and individual consumers.

A typical supply chain involves multiple business to business transactions, as companies purchase components and other raw materials for use in its manufacturing processes.

An example that illustrates the business to business concept is automobile manufacturing. Many of a vehicle’s components are manufactured independently and the auto manufacturer must purchase these parts separately. For instance, the tires, batteries, electronics, hoses and door locks may be manufactured elsewhere and sold directly to the automobile manufacturer.

In the context of communication, business to business refers to methods by which employees from different companies can connect with one another, such as through social media. This type of communication between the employees of two or more companies is called B2B communication.


Business-to-business selling is that sales from one business entity to another. This type of sale is likely to be larger than a business-to-consumer sale, since the company may purchase your product for multiple sites or employees, and tends to be more financially-driven, since the buyer must justify the purchase to other members of the organization.

2. Process for B2B Sales:

The process for selling to businesses is a bit different than the traditional consumer sales. To understand the process, we’ll listen in on a selling situation by Hank, who sells business phone systems.

Here are the steps in a business to business (B2B) selling process:


Step-1 – Understand Need and Ability to Pay:

The first step is to understand the problem your prospective customer is trying to solve, and their ability to pay for your product or service. Hank starts off the conversation by asking the prospect questions about their reasons for purchasing a phone system and what they currently have in place.

He discusses the features of the current system that are used and any not available that they wish they had. He also asks about their budget for the implementation, so he proposes a solution that the company can afford.

Step-2 – Develop a Solution:


Once you understand the prospects needs and financial means, you need to evaluate the various products you have to offer and develop a customized solution for them that meets both their needs and budget.

Hank now takes the information provided in the initial meeting and compares it to the various systems he has available and selects one that he thinks would best meet their needs. He then puts together an information package and quotation for this system, along with a customized checklist comparing the customer’s ‘wish list’ to the proposed hardware.

Step-3 – Evaluate Solution with the Customer:

The customized solution is now shared with the prospective customer, generally in a sit- down meeting where the solution is presented and all customer questions can be addressed. The solution may be modified with customer input prior to finalizing.


Hank meets with the customer again and walks them through the proposal he’s developed. After a lengthy discussion, Hank heads back to his office to revise the proposal to reflect a few modifications that came out of the meeting.

Step-4 – Finalize Sale:

Once the terms are agreed upon, a purchase agreement or contract is signed to finalize the agreement. Hank sends the final proposal over to the client, along with a contract they can sign and return to begin the process. Once the signed document is received, the sale is complete and the implementation process will begin.

3. B2B Selling Techniques:


There are some selling techniques that are helpful in B2B selling situations:

1. Convert all Benefits to Rupees:

Corporate buyers will need to justify the purchase to their financial team and senior management, and it helps them greatly to have specific dollar values associated with the benefits of implementing your product or service.

For instance, instead of claiming that your phone system will save your administrator an hour per year of time per station, estimate the cost for an average call center- 1 hour of time x Rs. 25 per hour compensation for an administrator x 300 employees in a call center = Rs. 7,500 per year in savings.


2. Tailor your Pitch:

Since B2B sales are often larger sales, there is a need for a customized solution to the customer, so they can make sure it meets their needs, and it’s worth the effort for the sales person since the commissions per sale are correspondingly larger as well.

The more the proposal specifically addresses the customer’s needs and solves their current problem, the more likely they will be to purchase it.

3. Take Time to Build Trust and Credibility:

Business buyers are often spending large amounts of their company’s money, and if they make a bad decision it can have an impact on their career. Based on this, these buyers will need to have a higher level of trust in the business and its products before buying.

4. Selling Approach:


Selling approach is a step by step approach taken by the seller in order to sell the goods or services to a prospective buyer.

Team Selling Approach:

Team selling approach is a group of people representing the sales department and other areas in a firm, all sharing a common goal of increased sales. Team selling is sometimes used in real estate.

Before the housing market collapse, it was not unusual to see several agents from the same firm working with the same client. One agent would handle the sale of the client’s home, another would handle financial transactions, and a third would help the client find a new home.

After the housing collapse, many real estate agents lost their jobs and thus team selling didn’t make sense. Having one agent to one client was seen as more cost effective. The idea behind the concept is that teamwork and sharing knowledge can benefit the bottom line of a firm.

When a company decides to use a team-selling approach, there are several factors to consider:


(i) The size and diversity of the team.

(ii) Rewards for each individual vs. rewards for the team as a whole.

(iii) Strategic objectives involved with the decision-making process.

Team selling should be used when there is a chance for high sales and profit. Firms must weigh the concept’s pros and cons and base their decision on whether the approach matches the needs of the buyer.

Advantages of Team Selling:

(i) A team approach allows for “continuous learning,” as team members can work together to identify flaws during the presentation process. They may also identify features that can be added to the sales pitch.


(ii) When a small company uses multiple salespeople to contact a client it helps the company appears larger than it is. Customers may like this approach, as it gives them multiple people to contact if there’s a problem.

(iii) Team selling shows clients that a company has more than one person with strong selling capabilities, giving the client a higher comfort level about the company.

(iv) Effective team selling will lower the cost of sales calls, while the number of people assigned to each sales call will double. This will increase their “batting average,” resulting in an overall increase in productivity.

Solution – Oriented Effort in Team Selling:

Technology has shifted the power in favor of the buyer, requiring brands to be data-driven, factual thought leaders. More than ever brands need an intimate understanding of their customers business to be in a position to identify unknown needs and to be able to coach their customers in the buying process.

Customers don’t believe they need sales representatives as much as they used to. The solution – oriented effort is required to build for team selling.


Once upon a time the sales folks believed that in order to sell, they needed to provide solutions to their customers’ problems. In the old playbook, sales reps would take the time to discover a customer’s needs and sell them the solutions to those needs. For a long time, this approach worked simply because customers didn’t know how to solve their own problems.

But as the quote above highlights, times have changed. Almost everything that a customer needs to know about solving her perceived problem is just a click away. And the implications are huge for sales teams, who need to keep up with this new buying process.

One hypothesis comes from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a well-respected advisory company. In the July 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman from the CEB put forward a new approach to B2B selling – a technique they call Insight Selling.

In a nutshell, this new approach to selling proposes that the best sales reps today are those who can challenge a customer’s preconceived notion and point them to the new solution.

Insight Selling hypothesizes that the most successful sales reps are those who are a source of information and best practices for their customers.

And that’s why for most brands, CEB’s findings highlight the increasing importance of consumer insights. More than ever, brands need to arm their front-line salespeople with insights into their customers and in a B2B world, their customers’ insights that those we are selling to are not aware of.


Borrowing from the tenets of Insight Selling, here are three ways consumer insights can help brands equip their salespeople in the era of the empowered consumer:

1. Uncover your Customers’ Unrecognized Needs:

In the HBR article, the CEB researchers emphasized the need to identify people’s unrecognized needs:

The star sales rep uses the occasion to turn a customer with clearly defined requirements into one with emerging needs. Even when he is invited in late, he tries to rewind the purchasing decision to a much earlier stage, Insight based selling rests on the belief that salespeople must lead with disruptive ideas that will make customers aware of unknown needs.

In other words, selling today requires sales reps to be thought leaders. To be a high- performing sales rep, you need to be forward thinking, identifying people’s needs even before they know they have them.

One important step in pinpointing these unrecognized needs is by using consumer insights to detect gaps in our customers’ businesses. Armed with data, sales reps are then equipped to better identify how their company’s offerings can help close those gaps.

For example – we recently did some work understanding the profile of the average sports fan and how they engage with their team. We uncovered a clear gap between how fans want to engage and what many teams offer their fans.

Closing this gap could lead to more sticky fans, increased ticket sales and reduced churn from those who currently spend their money with the team. If your company offers products or services that benefit sports teams, this type of insight can help open the doors when sales reps approach potential customers.

2. Help your Salespeople Challenge their Customers:

Insight Selling urges B2B sales reps to look for agile organizations that have emerging demands. This is in contrast to Solution Selling, an older model where sales reps are focused on brands with well established, recognized needs.

Additionally, this new model of selling advocates for an unconventional approach to challenge the preconceived notions of potential customers.

Sales reps are adept at selling “solutions,” but customers have become skilled at finding their own; they don’t need reps as they once did. In this environment, a group of high- performing salespeople have emerged reps what’ve abandoned the traditional playbook and devised a novel sales strategy.

Unlike traditional solution sellers, these star performers lead with insights meant to upend a customer’s approach to its business, and they aren’t afraid to push customers out of their comfort zone.

It’s not enough to look for organizations that are willing to change the CEB authors contend that these potential customers are more likely to buy if sales teams can offer insights on how to successfully take their business to the next level.

3. Address Roadblocks it the Customer’s Path to Purchase:

According to the CEB authors, B2B suppliers are in a good position to coach potential customers on how to buy and implement the right solution. “Sales leaders often overlook the fact that as hard as it is for most suppliers to sell complex solutions it’s even harder for most customers to buy them” contend the CEB authors.

Sales reps are experts in their industry; they are the best people who can explain how customers can get the most value from the solution they are selling. That’s why they are well positioned to guide prospective customers in presenting that vision to other key decision makers.

Brands should enable their sales teams with materials that can help potential customers navigate the buying process – relevant case studies, ROI examples, consumer insights exposing the problem we are addressing and detailed projections can help answer questions and address people’s objections.

More importantly, brands need to help their team address sales barriers by having an intimate understanding of the buying process. By combining insights from their insight communities with the rest of the data available to them, brands and sales reps are in much better position to help guide their customers in the purchasing process.

5. Entrepreneurial Philosophy:

Every company can have different ideas or philosophy. For example, a particular company can have its idea or philosophy that if the production is done on a large scale, the cost would be less and the product would be sold automatically.

Those companies who believe in this concept think that leaving alone the customers will not help. Instead there is a need to attract the customers towards them. They think that goods are not bought but they have to be sold.

The basis of this thinking is that the customers can be attracted. Keeping in view this concept these companies concentrate their marketing efforts towards educating and attracting the customers. In such a case their main thinking is ‘selling what you have’.

This concept offers the idea that by repeated efforts one can sell-anything to the customers. This may be right for some time, but you cannot do it for a long-time. If you succeed in enticing the customer once, he cannot be won over every time.

On the contrary, he will work for damaging your reputation. Therefore, it can be asserted that this philosophy offers only a short-term advantage and is not for long-term gains.

Sales Driven Philosophy is a marketing strategy that uses a more direct and personal approach to entice consumers to buy the company’s product or service. Motivation, philosophy and thoughts are about what being an entrepreneur means and how to inject the entrepreneurial spirit into you and your endeavors.

6. Selling Structure:

Business-to-business (B2B) is commerce transactions between businesses such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, or between a wholesaler and a retailer.

Various steps in selling structure are given below:

Step-1 – Select the Right Prospects:

Investing the time to carefully select your prospects is essential because you want to make sure that you are investing your time and energy on developing the right opportunities. Focusing your efforts will help ensure that you invest in providing your prospects with a great client experience.

Step-2 – Make First Contact:

Once you have selected your targets the next step is to make first contact. Your goal at first contact is to simply get a meeting. This is especially true if you prospect is not familiar with who you are.

Contemporary Analysis uses mathematics and big data to predict and influence human behavior. One of our products, Pulse, applies predictive analytics to analyze the profitability, loyalty and activity of individuals in your client portfolio.

This allows you to focus your marketing and customer service efforts, anticipate trends in your portfolio and engineer greater retention and profitability by contacting the right people at the right time.

Step-3 – Select your Sales Approach:

Once your prospect has agreed to meet with you it is important to prepare for your face-to- face meeting. One of the most important steps in preparing is to select your sales approach. Different people require different approaches, and while it takes a little bit of research selecting the right approach will help you make the best first impression possible.

The following are 5 typical sales approaches. The key to success is imitation of the person. You don’t want to mock the person, but you want the person to be able to see a little bit of him or herself in you. If you can successfully do this, the people that you talk to will be more trusting and will connect with you quicker.

1. The Ego:

This person wants to feel important, and they will most likely respond to you and possibly purchase your product to satisfy an egotistical need.

2. The Expert:

The person considers themself to be expert an in their field, and will expect you to have a minimum knowledge of their field, or to be an expert if you are approaching them about something in their field.

3. The Good Samaritan:

These people are very open to being contacted, but they don’t want to be sold. They want to help out and listen to someone.

4. The Skeptic:

With skeptical people you want to lead with facts and figures. They won’t agree to a meeting with you unless you have Case Studies, Testimonials, and or an impressive client list.

5. The Explorer:

These people are very open to being contacted, because they love learning about new things. When you approach them about an opportunity, it has to be unique and also be exciting. If it is these two things you will most likely get a meeting.

Step-4 – The Face-to-Face Meeting:

Typically in business-to-business sales your prospects are only able to meet with you once or twice before they decide whether or not they are going to purchase. Because of this, it is essential to make the most of your face-to-face and then move the sale forward using emails and voicemail.

During the first meeting you want to make sure you understand what your prospect the person wants to achieve, what their budget is and who the key decision makers are. Your goal is to ask as many questions as possible, because this establishes rapport with the prospects and it becomes harder to get answers to the tough questions once you are on longer face-to-face or over the phone.

When learning about your prospects goals make sure to remember that people buy things and companies pay for them. So you don’t want to focus just on the company’s goals, but also the aspirations your prospect has and what pressures they are under.

While your solution still needs to produce results for your client the company, helping your client the person will help you win the contract and future contracts.

Step-5 – Determine Next Steps:

During your face-to-face meeting you want to move the call as far as possible towards a decision as possible. However, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get a decision either for a sale or no sale during your first meeting.

Having clear definitions of where opportunities are in the sales cycle allows our sales team to determine what next steps to take and which opportunities to prioritize to make sure we meet our sales quotas for the next 15, 30 and 60 days.

1. Advances (Successful):

An advance is when an event takes place either during the call or after the call that moves the sale toward a decision. The events need to represent an agreement with the customer that moves the sale forward toward the ultimate decision. Advancements take many forms, but invariably they involve an action that moves the sale forward.

Typical advances might include:

(i) A customer’s agreement to attend an off-site demonstration.

(ii) A clearance that will get you in front of a higher level decision maker.

(iii) An agreement to run a trial or test of your product.

(iv) Access to parts of the account that were previously inaccessible to you.

2. Continuations (Unsuccessful):

Where the sale will continue but where no specific action has been agreed upon by the customer to move it forward. Continuations are often a way to politely get rid of a seller. These calls do not result in an agreed action, yet neither do they involve a “No” from the customer.

Typical examples would be calls that end with a customer saying:

“Thank you for coming. Why don’t you visit us again the next time you’re in the area?”

“Fantastic presentation, we’re very impressed. Let’s meet again some time.”

“We liked what we saw and we’ll be in touch if we need to take things further.”

3. Orders (Successful):

This is when the lead closes the deal by signing a contract or paying. This is not an “I am 99.9% likely to close,” event. Orders have to be contractual or monetary.

4. No-Sale (Unsuccessful):

This is when a customer actively refuses your principal call objective. Good examples of this are when a client tells you that they aren’t interested, won’t agree to a future meeting or denies your request to see a more senior person in the account.

Your goal is to choose next steps that continue to move the sale forward until you either receive an order or a no sale.

Step-6 – Close the Deal:

Once you have led your prospect to the realization that they have the need, willingness and resources to purchase what you sell, the simplest close is to simply ask for the business and then wait until your prospect breaks the silence.

Even if it takes 10 minutes, they will eventually break the silence, and if they are confident that you have the solution necessary to achieve their goals they will most likely respond by agreeing to purchase what you sell.

7. Direct Sales Force:

Direct sales force is a type of sales channel where products are marketed directly to customers, eliminating the need for middlemen wholesalers, advertisers and retailers. Direct selling can be conducted one-on-one, in a group or party format or online.

The part of direct selling also refers to the personal component of this sales channel; it’s about building relationships with people and offering them a high level of service and personal attention.

Small business owners consider a variety of options when deciding how to present their products to potential customers. Among these options are direct sales. In a direct sales model, a business’s own employees demonstrate and sell their products directly to the end consumer.

This stands in contrast to retail marketing, where a business sells its products in large volumes to distributors and stores rather than directly to end consumers. To decide if the direct sales model is right for your small business, it’s worthwhile to consider some of the model’s key advantages.

Direct sales give a small business the ability to build and manage its own personal relationships with its customers. According to Kent Grayson, a business researcher at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, this allows a business the opportunity to engage in multiple interactions with a target consumer.

The relationships a business’s direct sales force builds are more personal, meaningful and memorable. These relationships can help the business better understand and adapt to the needs of their customers while fostering a sense of loyalty to the business’s brand.

Because a small business using the direct sales model controls its sales force, it gains the ability to coordinate its sales interactions with its production and marketing strategies. The business can ensure that the sales representatives interacting directly with customers use similar marketing language and presentation as its media advertising campaigns.

This helps to reinforce marketing messages with customers. A small business can also use feedback from its direct sales interactions to evaluate the effectiveness of its other marketing campaigns and to tailor its development of products or services to consumer interests.

A small business using the direct sales model has a significant degree of control over its pricing and distribution. As a result, the business has greater capability to verify that its products are competitively priced. The business is also able to ensure the individuals representing its products or services are knowledgeable and effective.

In addition, a business that uses a direct sales model is less reliant on the services of retailers. According to research published in “Management Science,” this aspect of the model can give a small business a stronger position in a negotiation with a retailer, allowing the company to potentially secure a larger share of the profit from its products.

A direct selling campaign affords a small business access to consumers it otherwise may not reach. Not all customers receive or respond to media advertising campaigns. Similarly, some customers may not shop at the retail stores that stock a business’s products. The direct sales model is a way to get to these customers directly and initiate a sale.

In some cases, a small business leverages existing social relationships in a direct sales campaign. In these situations, the sales force is encouraged to sell primarily to their friends and family. It is important to remember some customers are put off by this approach, so it should be pursued with a degree of sensitivity.

8. Sales Coverage through Manufacturer’s Representative and Distributors:

Manufacturers’ representatives are independent contractors who develop long-term relationships with their client companies to sell the latter’s products. They do not function under the immediate supervision of the manufacturers they sell for; therefore the relationship is not like that between a boss and employee, but is a business-to-business relationship.

A manufacturers’ representative firm, sometimes called a multi-line field sales company, can be run by one person or it can be a much more extensive organization with numerous sales persons covering specific territories.

The typical agency is a corporation employing about six people, including those to handle office duties that sell for an average of 10 different principals, according to the Manufacturers’ Agents National Association (MANA).

Beyond sales duties, however, manufacturers’ representatives provide an array of services to for their clients in an effort to strengthen the relationship between rep and manufacturer and to increase the mutual benefits of the relationship.

These services include (depending on the size, scope and specialization of the particular sales agency) warehousing, installation and maintenance activities and increasingly in the 1990s, consulting on such matters as the identification and definition of clients’ needs and problems, efficiency solutions and a host of other issues. Most representative firms provide one or more of these services in addition to their specialization in field sales.

Smaller companies that can’t afford to have their own sales staff use agencies, as do billion- dollar firms that want to ensure maximum coverage for their products. Some large companies even sell exclusively through manufacturers’ representatives.

Representatives generally handle sales for several different companies that offer compatible, but not competing, products to the same industry. This method reduces the cost of sales by spreading the rep’s cost over the different products touted to each customer. As a result, manufacturers’ agents view themselves not as middlemen, but as a cost-effective alternative to a company’s hiring of a full-time salaried sales force.

9. Customer Relationship Management:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth.

CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers across different channels or points of contact between the customer and the company which could include the company’s website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer facing staff detailed information on customers’ personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

Sustaining Customer Relationship:

Sustaining customer relationship refers to practices, strategies and technologies that companies use to build manage and analyze customer interactions for long time.

There is a strong correlation between long-term business success and long-term customer relationships. Successful businesses capitalize on every stage of the customer life cycle from customer selection, to customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer growth. Once a certain level of trust and comfort has been established, most customers prefer to remain loyal to companies and their products.

Customer selection and acquisition is just the beginning of the customer relationship life cycle. Ideally, your company should target only high value and low attrition-risk prospects. The cost to acquire a new customer is much greater than the cost to retain an existing customer. Depending on the industry, experts indicate that it is five to ten times more costly to acquire a new customer than it is to keep and develop an existing customer.

In the retention stage of the customer’s life cycle, a company retains its customers by delivering on its value proposition. This ensures that the customer needs to look no further; that is the rationale for providing the highest quality of service.

When your customer relationship is based on trust, cooperation and collaboration, the customer is more willing to listen to your new ideas, try your new products/services, and considers you as a long term, trusted partner.

10. Activities to Build Sustainable Customer Relation:

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications offer solutions to this challenge. CRM is the process of tracking and managing all aspects of a company’s interaction with its customers, including prospecting, sales and service.

Here are just a few customer touch points that you can use to strengthen your relationships and keep your customers informed and engaged:

(i) Email Messages, Newsletters and Surveys:

Provide product/service updates, promote goods and services and communicate news/events.

(ii) Feedback:

Ask for, capture and act on your customer’s input.

(iii) Insight:

Research your customers’ markets, strategies and goals.

(iv) Customer Loyalty:

Implement loyalty, affinity and rewards programs.

(v) Relationship Building:

Talk and listen to customers in order to maintain a dialogue and to build a trust based relationship.

(vi) Be Accessible:

Make it easy for customers to reach you.

(vii) Customer Satisfaction:

Implement a customer satisfaction policy that provides a way to resolve/remedy problems and issues.

(viii) Involvement:

Engage customers in product development/enhancement, via beta tests, focus groups and pilots.

(ix) Anticipate Customer Needs:

Learn their business, their purchasing patterns and their requirements for effective proactive solutions.

(x) Help lines:

Provide support, service, advice and information.