Sales Basics
  •   5 min read

What is B2B Sales? Challenges, Techniques & Best Practices

Gautham Nagaraj

ByGautham Nagaraj

Published January 24, 2023

b2b challenges, techniques and best practices

B2B sales is a beast of its own, differing greatly from its B2C counterpart. It comes with its own specific techniques, challenges and results. What does B2B sales look like in today’s digital-first, hybrid work environment? How have B2B sales strategies evolved in response to it? These are some of the things we’ll break down in this post.


What is B2B Sales?

As the name ‘business-to-business’ implies, B2B sales is the process of selling products or services to businesses rather than individual consumers. It involves multiple stakeholders, long sales cycles, strategic decision-making that are more complex than B2C sales. 


The B2B Sales Cycle

The B2B sales cycle is the process that companies use to identify and qualify potential customers, build relationships, and ultimately close deals. The cycle can vary in length and complexity depending on what kind of products or services you sell, but a typical one includes four key stages: prospecting, qualification, pitching, and negotiation/closing.

  • Prospecting - Prospecting is the first stage of the b2b sales cycle, during which sales reps identify and research potential customers. It is a research-intensive job where reps  may use a whole bunch of methods to get their list. It includes online research, Social Media research (LinkedIn being one of the most popular), networking, trade shows, personal referrals, or sales prospecting databases.
  • Qualifying - Once a lead has been identified, the next step is to assess or qualify if they fit your ICP. During this stage, sales reps try to understand the customer's problem or pain point and determine whether they are a good fit for the company's products or services. Qualification can be done with a number of criteria (here’s a helpful downloadable checklist). Your reps should only pursue qualified reps, because otherwise they’d be wasting their time on accounts that don’t have the intent, interest or ability to buy.
  • Pitching - If it is determined that there is a good fit, the next step is to engage with the prospect across channels like calls, emails, texts or LinkedIn with personalized and compelling messaging that pushes them to a purchase decision. This will typically include more information about the product or service as well as pricing details, told in a way to help prospects identify how their pain points will be addressed through your product. The goal at this stage is to convince the customer that your company can provide them with a solution to their problem.
  • Negotiating/Closing - Finally, if all goes well up to this point, the last stage is negotiation and closing. This is where final details about pricing and contracts are ironed out and both parties come to an agreement. Once everything is signed, it’s time to ring the bell because you’ve closed a deal!


B2B Sales Vs B2C Sales

The main difference between B2C and B2B sales is the type of customer each one is targeting. B2B sales are usually business-to-business, meaning that the products or services being sold are for other businesses to use in their own operations. Outplay, for example, sells sales engagement tech to other businesses like Owler. B2C sales, on the other hand, are business-to-consumer and target individual consumers. Like Walmart or Netflix

There are a bunch of differences that set B2B sales apart from B2C -

  • Buyers - In B2B sales, you're typically dealing with corporate decision makers who have a budget and specific needs in mind. A B2B sales rep doesn’t just sell to a person - they sell to a department or even an organization as a whole. Usually this involves having the buy-in of more than one person. B2C sales, on the other hand, are to individuals who may be more price sensitive and not as concerned with specifications. They are reliant only on their own wants, needs or emotional desires and of course, their finances to make a decision.
  • The buying process: B2B buyers usually go through a formal process of research and evaluation before making a purchase. They usually have multiple options in mind and are likely to have a checklist of pros and cons against each. B2C buyers on the other hand are more likely to make impulse purchases or be influenced by friends or peers.
  • The product: B2B products are often more expensive and complex than B2C products, as they need to meet the specific needs of businesses. They might even need external help and a lot of time to install or implement. 

The selling process: B2B selling is usually done through cold outreaches over a variety of channels. B2C selling is often done online or in person at retail locations.


b2b sales vs b2c sales

Challenges of B2B Sales

B2B sales can be tricky for many reasons. From the customer perspective, it's often difficult to tell which products and services are worth buying from companies like yours—and even if they are worth buying at all. As a result, B2B salespeople must work harder than their counterparts in B2C environments to close deals.

  • Longer sales cycles - B2B sales is a lot more complicated than B2C. The decision-making process for businesses is often much longer than for individuals, so it can take months or even years to land a deal. And even when you do finally close a deal, there's always the risk that the other business will back out or decide to go with another supplier.
  • Reaching the decision maker - The next challenge is getting in touch with the right decision maker within the target organization. This can be difficult because there may be several layers of management between the salesperson and the ultimate decision maker. And you’ll have to work your way through all the gate-keepers till you manage to reach someone with the decision-making power. 
  • Creating a compelling, customized offer - Understanding the needs of your prospect takes a lot of research and an understanding of the buyer's journey. Both of which you need to create a compelling offer that meets the needs of the prospect. This offer must be tailored to each individual business you pitch too. There can be templates, but ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to B2B sales.


Best Practices for B2B Sales

We’ve spent some time on understanding what makes B2B sales so complex. Which also means that every business needs to develop a B2B sales strategy that is unique to them. But here’s something every business needs to keep in mind, and you should too. 

  • Understand the needs of your target market - What kind of businesses are you trying to reach? What needs do they have that your product or service can address? What is your ideal customer profile? Your targeting has to be clear, to ensure that your messaging is clear. 
  • Do your research - When you know who your target market is, research those companies - and your ICPs within them - and learn as much as you can about them. The more you know about a company and the prospect, the better equipped you'll be to sell them your product or service.
  • Build relationships -  Because B2B sales typically involve longer sales cycles, it's important to build relationships and just ‘engage’ with potential buyers. Get to know your ICPs, their challenges and aspirations, pain points and solutions, so that you can better understand how your product or service can help them achieve their goals.
  • Be prepared for objections - In any sale, there will be objections from the prospect at some point - some valid, some addressable. It's important to be prepared for these objections and have answers ready that will address your prospect’s concerns.


best practices for b2b sales

B2B Sales Techniques

There are a few common B2B sales techniques that can help you close more deals and increase your sales. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Solution Selling - Solution selling is a technique where you focus on solving your prospect’s problems rather than selling them a product or service. This involves understanding their challenges and providing them with a tailored solution that meets their specific needs.
  • Consultative Selling - Consultative selling is another great technique for B2B salespeople. In this approach, you act as a consultant to your prospects, helping them make decisions about what products or services they need. This involves really understanding their business and being able to offer advice and recommendations that will benefit them.
  • Value-Based Selling- Value-based selling is all about demonstrating the value of what you’re selling, rather than just the features and benefits. This means showing your prospect how your product or service can save them time, money, or resources, or help them achieve their goals. When done correctly, value-based selling can be very effective in closing deals.
  • Competitive selling - In competitive selling, you focus on positioning your product or service as superior to those of your competitors. This often requires highlighting specific features or advantages that your offering has over others in the market.
  • Account-based selling - This method involves selling to a specific set of ‘accounts’ or identified companies instead of targeting individuals within the company separately. Sales teams run account-based prospecting campaigns to personalize their engagement.



As hard as B2B sales can be, it’s nothing that a killer team and a powerful sales engagement platform can’t fix. Outplay is an all-in-one sales engagement platform that helps modern B2B sales teams prospect, engage, monitor, schedule, track and sell from a single place. Over 5000 salespeople count on Outplay to hit their goals and drive revenue. If you want to see what we’re about, book a personalized demo today.