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Retail & Sales careers

Sales: Business to Business (B2B)

What is the difference between B2B and B2C sales?

Careers in sales are not just about selling things directly to individual punters. You may not realise it, but businesses sell to other businesses. These kinds of sales careers are all about the inter-business transactions that make the commercial world go round.

B2B sales is a whole different ball game to business-to-consumer sales (B2C). In addition to the fact that you will be selling to other companies and not individuals, the main differences are:

  1. The volume in which products or services are sold
  2. The kind of products sold
  3. The way in which things are sold.

How large are B2B sales?

B2B salespeople usually sell items in bulk. For instance, rather than selling a single pint of beer to a thirsty customer, a B2B salesmen (working for a specific brewery) might set up an agreement where 10 kegs of the ‘amber nectar’ are sold to the pub’s landlord every week throughout the year. That’s 520 kegs. Your average 11 gallon keg contains 88 pints, and so that transaction involves the sale of 45,760 pints of beer. Yes, we are talking about big money sales here, ladies and gents!

What products are involved in B2B sales?

This high volume brand of sales might also be down to the nature of the products being sold. Often, B2B salespeople focus on selling individual parts of products or raw materials, and not finished articles. Companies buy these small parts off B2B salespeople in bulk at a reduced price. They then create finished products out of the constituent parts and sell them directly to consumers at a much higher price.

How are products sold in B2B sales?

B2B sales is less focused on cold calling and direct sales tactics. It is much more about understanding client objectives, building relationships with clients and maintaining those relationships, so that consistent sales plans can be established and put in place. These people need to develop an in-depth understanding of their market, so they can fulfil their client’s demands quickly and efficiently.

How do B2B sales happen?

B2B salespeople can work in all kinds of different industries and can end up selling all kinds of different things, from gravel and grain, to data and diamonds. 

The average week of a B2B salesperson might involve: travelling to client sites, having face-to-face meetings, making presentations, developing new business opportunities over the phone, researching new clients, recording sales activity on databases and generating leads using internet resources.

How do I get into B2B sales?

No specific academic qualifications are generally needed for you to succeed in B2B sales. However, for specialist areas such as scientific sales, a degree might be essential for understanding the complex products you are selling and how they work.

The main priority for B2B salespeople is to be tenacious, dynamic, competitive, resilient, charming, and have excellent communication and negotiation skills.

B2B sales is no different from other kinds of sales in that employee activity is driven by targets, commission and bonuses. These careers can be highly pressurised, but you could earn a handsome wage if you put in the hard work.

Have you got a strong handshake, a fancy suit and a shiny smile? Are you a salesperson worth saluting? Try a role in B2B sales — this might just be the right career for you!