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December 29, 2019

The Biggest Challenges in B2B Sales - Effective B2B Selling

Written by
Noel Hooban

Biggest Challenges in B2B Selling

B2B selling faces certain obstacles when trying to execute the sales process to convert customers. However, B2B sales professionals face a few significant challenges that are often unique to this particular arena.

Suppliers are finally following the lead of B2C companies by using customer data more intelligently and using it to predict buyer behaviours, strengthen relationships, and drive more sales. Although your largest accounts can represent a large percentage of both your revenue and your margin, losing some of those accounts can have a detrimental impact on your business. The following is a look at several of the challenges in B2B selling.

More Complicated Solutions

What is B2B sales that the problems that typical buyers face are more complex than those faced by B2C consumers. Business buyers normally seek solutions that contribute to increasing revenue performance or reducing operating costs. Many of the solutions that business buyers want are technical or technology-oriented as well. Therefore, it takes time and a clear process to lay out how the solution meets a buyer’s need.

Customers want the best possible price and will often push hard on the pricing, but they also want peace of mind that what they are purchasing will do exactly what it is supposed to do with the minimal of fuss.

According to McKinsey&Company’s Key Account Survey, larger organisations think in exactly this way – valuing the service & support and the complete sales experience well above the price, taking 46% of the decision criteria.

mckinsey b2b selling key account survey 2015

Too Many Buyers

Depending upon the complexity of the solution, more and more decision makers are involved in the process, sometimes with a number of those involved being unavailable to anyone on the sellers’ team. It is more common in complex sales that a B2B sales representative is confronted with multiple buying roles. Companies may use committees or have non-buyers involved in meetings. Their involvement indicates their potential ability to influence the purchase decision. And in the same manner, your organisation needs to find a way to influence these people.

During prospecting, it is important to integrate strong data acquisition so you understand the profile of the decision-makers as this will help your team devise the right messaging and content for your marketing campaigns. Content marketing strategies that inform and educate prospects before they interact with a salesperson are crucial to mitigating solution complexity. Added to this is the capability of targeting those other influencers via Account Based Marketing solutions and getting directly in front of these decision makers with a good appointment setting campaign.

Addressing Critical Business Issues

B2B buyers don’t think in terms of buying products; instead, they think about the critical business issues they must resolve. In that sense, B2B sales tips over into more problem-solving territory than that you would find in B2C. Don’t call on a business prospect and immediately start pushing the merits of your products. Take the time to investigate, ask questions and get the full scope of the problems faced. Doing so prepares you to offer your full-scale solution in a way that directly addresses each buyer’s most critical business issues.

Long Buying Cycles

The average buying cycle is normally longer in the B2B sales experience than in B2C selling. It takes a lot of patience on the part of a sales rep not to try to rush the process or to concede additional discounts that affect the overall margin on the deal. However, time-consuming cycles are inefficient to the single sales rep and cause delays in attempting to connect with other buyers.

The trick is to find ways to move sales along without being pushy. And that can be difficult as suppliers don’t always understand the buying process within an organisation. Whereas buyers usually have a good insight into their selling process, particularly if negotiations are being led by that single sales person.

B2B Selling organisations need a process around larger deals where there is a long buying cycle. No company wants to be winning “bad” deals that put pressure on other parts of the company.

B2B appointment setting

Wrap Up

The B2B selling environment has complexities and obstacles that aren’t as common in B2C. However, for each of the challenges identified, effective planning and execution enable you to achieve success. Buyers are more sophisticated and very detail orientated in longer sales cycles and selling organisations need to blueprint their own success criteria to ensure a successful selling cycle and a strong negotiations team.

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