What are B2B sales? Definitions, examples and why it’s different from B2C

Business-to-business sales are a fundamental part of many industries

Business-to-business sales are a fundamental part of many industries and play a crucial role in helping businesses to grow and succeed. And while there are many companies that sell to both businesses and consumers, there are key differences that need to be understood.

In this article, we’ll explore what B2B sales are, the different types of B2B sales, and some of the key differences between B2B and B2C transactions. We’ll also be looking at how the B2B sales process works, so make sure you stick around! 

Let’s get stuck in!

Table of contents

A B2B sale refers to a transaction between two businesses. Instead of a retailer selling to a consumer, B2B sales happen when a business sells their product or service to another business.

An example could be a packaging specialist that provides their products to restaurants, takeaway shops, and cafes. Take Purple Planet for example.

A screenshot of a packaging specialist's website for b2b sales
Purple Planet Packaging's homepage

Another example could be a distributor that manufactures tools for the construction industry like RiktigHandel.

A screenshot of a construction tool distributor's website for b2b sales
RiktigHandel's homepage

These are by no means the only types of B2B sale though. Any type of business that sells to another business is a type of B2B sale!

B2B and B2C sales are ultimately trying to achieve the same goal, a sale. But there are some key differences between the two that are worth understanding.

Higher average order value

B2B sales tend to have larger quantities and higher amounts, whereas selling to a consumer usually involves a smaller order size, both in quantity and value. One of the reasons for this is because businesses tend to buy in bulk and less often. Additionally, many business services or products have a higher price point.

Longer sales cycle

Another key difference is the length of time it takes for a business customer to purchase. As mentioned above, the transactional value is higher. This means B2B buyers are more cautious about making a purchasing decision and will often conduct their own research, compare options, and justify the expenditure.

More stakeholders

A longer sales cycle is also the result of more stakeholders being involved with a purchase. B2C sales usually only involve one person. For example, an individual purchasing goods from Amazon. B2B sales, on the other hand, can include people from different departments, such as finance, operations, and procurement, who may have different priorities and needs.

Technical expertise

The majority of B2B sales require a higher level of expertise for a product or service. These types of sales are not one-size-fits-all and often involve customisation to suit the buyer. For example, the buyer may want to purchase from a software provider but requires a solution that isn’t off-the-shelf. This means the seller needs to provide the buyer with a specific combination of services or products and tailor to the buyer’s needs in some way. 

Highly educated buyers

B2B buyers are typically highly educated and knowledgeable about the products and services they are interested in because they’re making significant investments on behalf of their companies. This means the products and services they purchase are often complex and specialised, playing an important role in their business operations.

It’s worth noting that the way buyer and seller approach B2B has recently become more similar to B2C. For example, social media is becoming an increasingly effective marketing tool for B2B companies, with 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-suite executives saying they use social media when making a purchase.

Despite these similarities, B2B and B2C sales are fundamentally different based on what we’ve covered above. So make sure think about these differences when tackling your B2B sales!

Because of the differences between B2B and B2C, the sales cycle is also different. Below, you’ll find a handy image showing a typical B2B sales process in 8 steps, from start to finish.

The B2B sales process

Prospecting: This step involves identifying businesses that may have a need for your product or service and gathering information about them.

Qualifying: Next, you need to determine whether a prospect is a good fit for your product or service. This step involves assessing whether the prospect is in a position to buy, has the budget, and if your product or service is a good fit for them.

Needs Assessment: Then, you’ll need to understand the prospect's specific needs and pain points. This involves identifying the specific problems or challenges that the prospect is facing, and determine how your product or service can help address them.

Solution Development: After that, you’ll need to develop a customised solution to meet the prospect's needs. This step involves creating a proposal or solution that is tailored to the prospect's specific requirements.

Pitching: When you’ve figured out how best to serve your B2B buyer, you’ll most likely need to demonstrate how your product or service can meet the prospect's needs. This step can involve making a formal presentation of your solution to the prospect.

Handling objections: At this point, your prospect may have objections. Addressing any concerns or objections that the prospect may have is important as it allows the prospect to see how your solution can fix their problem by providing additional information or reassurance.

Closing: The final step (kind of!) - Finalising the sale and getting the prospect to make a purchase or sign a contract. This step involves getting the prospect to commit to the purchase, and finalising the details of the sale.

After Sales Support: Thanks to the more complex nature of B2B sales, they often require ongoing support and for you and your team to be available for any issues, questions or concerns related to the purchased products or services. This step shouldn’t be glossed over, as it’ll help to maintain a relationship with the customer and potentially lead to future sales or upsells.

Final thoughts

Understanding the key differences between B2B and B2C sales is crucial for businesses looking to optimise their sales strategies and achieve success in the marketplace. Once you have this down, you can truly focus on serving your B2B customers in the best way possible.

To take the complexity out of selling B2B, Two’s B2B payment suite helps you increase conversion rates and average order value, all while eliminating admin. Using Two, you can offer your online and offline business customers flexible, interest-free trade credit without the added risk or need for invoice factoring. 

To learn more, talk to one of our experts. ✌️