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Business-to-business (B2B) selling is changing. Long, complicated sales processes between sales reps and buyers that often included dinners, drinks, golf, and extensive back and forth communication are becoming less popular every day. 

In fact, many buyers now want to act independently, and 44% of millennials prefer having no interaction with a sales rep at all.

Digital, self-serve, and data-driven selling solutions are becoming increasingly powerful, meaning sales departments will have to drastically alter their strategies in the coming years to remain competitive. 

Below, we’ll examine:

Ready to learn everything there is to know about B2B selling in 2023? Let’s dive in.

What is B2B selling?

B2B selling refers to the process of companies buying and selling goods or services with other businesses. It is a massive market, accounting for nearly 50 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S. economy. 

This can cover anything from raw materials to finished products. B2B selling can be broken down into three main categories: direct sales, indirect sales, and online/digital sales. 

  • Direct sales: Refers to a sales rep contacting potential customers to discuss their product or service  and engage in negotiations. 
  • Indirect sales: Refers to a company selling its products to other businesses through a third party such as distributors, resellers, agents, etc. 
  • Online/digital sales: Refers to B2B sales that take place online via e-commerce sites or digital marketplaces. 
  • Bulk sales: Refers to when a business sells a large collection of inventory or assets to one single buyer, often for a discounted price. 

If you are a business that traditionally sells products or services in a B2C context, making the transition to B2B sales can allow you to significantly expand your business and revenue opportunities. 

For example: Let’s say that your business traditionally sells online courses directly to consumers to generate revenue. You might consider selling your courses in bulk directly to larger businesses and companies so they can offer them to their employees, customers or partners themselves. This would allow you to significantly increase the amount of revenue you generate from a single transaction, as you would be charging for the bulk sale and not just one customer. 

Learn more: B2B Online Course Sales: Practical Strategies For Increasing Your Revenue

Companies are increasingly using digital solutions to help streamline the sales process. According to Gartner research, there is a steady shift of customer preferences from in-person sales interactions to digital channels.

How does B2B differ from B2C selling?

B2B and business-to-customer (B2C) selling are similar in many ways, but there are some key differences.

Experience vs relationship

In B2C sales, the focus is often placed on providing an enjoyable and direct shopping experience to customers. The primary goal is to streamline the sales process and reach as many customers as possible. 

For B2B sales on the other hand, the focus is on creating long-term relationships with customers that can be mutually beneficial for both parties. 


When preparing for mass-market customer selling, personalization of products or services isn’t usually necessary; as B2C buyers don’t typically need or expect customized solutions or tailored offers. 

In B2B sales though, customization and personalization of products or services is often expected, especially if you are selling a digital product. 

Buyer focus

Unlike businesses, individual customers are usually making decisions based on their individual emotions and desires. A key difference B2B selling is that the decision to purchase usually has to be put through several decision-makers who are usually focused on factors such as price, quality, and value for money when making a purchase. 

Still, some of the same principles of B2C selling – like providing a great customer experience – still apply to B2B sales processes. 

Why is B2B selling changing?

The B2B selling landscape is changing due to several factors.

  • The emergence of digital solutions: Digital solutions are becoming more and more advanced, making it easier for buyers to research information on their own. This cuts down on the need for direct sales reps and makes the buying process much faster and simpler. 
  • Increased competition: With technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, customers have access to a wider range of options when it comes to purchasing goods or services. 
  • More data available: Those same technological advances also offer more data than ever before. Companies can use this information to better understand their target customers, customize offers, and build relationships that last.

Customers have become much more sophisticated in how they go about solving a problem. They aren’t as willing to accept pitches, and instead just want a customer journey that doesn’t have any obstacles. 

B2B selling best practices for 2023

Where does the changing B2B selling landscape leave you? Looking for ways to provide those customers with an effortless and seamless buying experience. Here are some best practices for your business or organization to focus on in 2023.

Conduct customer research 

Research is the key to success in any business, and that’s especially true when it comes to B2B selling. You need to know who your customers are, what their needs are, and how you can best meet them. 

To do this you’ll need to invest time into researching your market – understanding competitor pricing strategies, customer personas, industry trends & more.

Don’t just assume you know what customers want. Launch customer surveys with thoughtful questions, and monitor answers closely.  Conducting customer research will help you understand your customers’ needs better, as well as build trust with them. Look for customer feedback whenever possible through social media, surveys, customer interviews, and more.

Nurture your leads 

Lead nurturing is the process of engaging with potential customers on an ongoing basis. This involves providing them with helpful content tailored to their interests and needs and building relationships and trust over time. 

This doesn’t end after a sale is made – it’s an ongoing process of communication. Your business should have a plan in place to stay in contact with potential and current customers through strategies like personalized emails or monthly newsletters. Email marketing is a great way to engage leads and gather insights and date about your prospects. Every prospect is a chance to learn something new. 

Once the sales is made, your business should also consider implementing a customer success strategy to ensure that your customers find value in your product or service and stick around for the long term. 

Maximize time with B2B buyers

When you do get the chance to meet a customer in person (or on the phone), make sure you’re making the most of it. Show up prepared with relevant information and data that will help solve the customer’s problem. 

Focus on building trust and understanding what their needs are so you can suggest solutions accurately. 

Make sure your sales team is well-versed in customer service and success as well – this will be key for building relationships with customers over time. 

Finally, don’t forget about follow-up! Following up after each meeting is essential for staying top of mind with buyers and helping build lasting relationships. 

Offer self-service and digital purchasing options

No matter how well you prepare, some customers just don’t want to interact with a sales rep or go through a lengthy and tedious purchasing process. That’s why it’s important to provide self-service and digital purchasing options to customers who want more control over the buying process. 

This could include online ordering and bulk selling (if you are in the B2B online course creation business), automated customer service bots, or even an easy-to-use web portal for managing orders and accounts. 

Offering these kinds of solutions will make it easier (and more efficient) for customers to purchase your products and services without having to wait on a sales rep every time they need something. 

Don’t waste time with logistics

Self-serve and digital options can also benefit sales teams, cutting down on time-consuming logistics. Instead of spending time on shipment tracking and order fulfillment, automated and digital solutions can help sales representatives gain time back to focus on important tasks such as nurturing leads. 

This frees up more time for teams to focus on sales enablement and customer engagement, rather than dealing with paperwork or back-end tasks. If you can streamline the process, customers will appreciate it even more. 

Become a strategic growth partner

It’s no longer enough to just provide a product or service. Customers now want more than that – they want partners that can help them succeed in the long term. 

Businesses need to become strategic partners with their customers and look at the bigger picture. This means providing exceptional customer service and support, and solutions that go beyond basic products or services, such as advice, training, or insights into industry trends. 

Position yourself as the go-to expert in your industry and offer value beyond the sale.

Customer service is king

At the end of the day, customers want to feel like they’re being taken care of. 

For your business, this means expanding beyond providing everyday customer service tasks such as responding quickly and efficiently to customer inquiries, addressing any problems or concerns as soon as possible, and following up with customers after their purchase. 

You should also be looking for ways to improve customer service and guide your customers toward success – whether that’s through automation or investing in better tools and resources. 

Standardizing your B2B selling process

For even more success, you’ll need to standardize the sales process. This means creating a step-by-step flow for customer interactions, from initial contact to close of sale – regardless of whether that interaction comes from a rep or an automated digital system.

Mapping the journey

Your business needs to make sure that the customer journey is mapped out from beginning to end. This means understanding what needs to be done for a customer to reach their desired outcome and then making sure you have all pieces of the puzzle in place.

For example, if you’re selling software, you’ll need to consider things like onboarding processes and technical support options. 

  • Will they need to manage the product themselves?
  • Will you be offering ongoing support? 
  • Where will they find the necessary documentation?
  • ​​How will they be able to contact customer service if they need help?

All of these questions need to be taken into account when mapping out the customer journey.

Customer segmentation

The same process isn’t going to work for everyone.

You’ll need to segment your customers into different groups, so you can tailor the experience to each one. One customer may be more price-sensitive, while others care more about quality. Some other things to consider are:

  • Company size
  • Budget 
  • Buying motivation 
  • Industry trends 

Customer segmentation allows you to offer personalization to help build trust and loyalty.

Lead qualification

Wasting time on leads that aren’t going to convert is a huge waste of resources. That’s why lead qualification is so important.

You’ll need to develop criteria for deciding which leads are worth pursuing and which ones should be discarded or nurtured further over time. The biggest thing to remember here is authority. Does your lead or point of contact have the authority to make a final purchase decision? If not, can they connect you with someone that does?

Sales pitch creation

Customized doesn’t necessarily mean unique. There are standard templates and frameworks you can use to create an effective sales pitch.

For example, the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire & Action) framework is a great tool for creating persuasive pitches that get results. Another is the PAS (Problem-Agitate-Solve) framework, which is used to identify customer pain points and create a solution. 

These can be matched with specific segments or blended to create what seems like a personalized (yet consistent) pitch.

Tricks for better B2B relationships

Building good relationships with your customers is essential for successful B2B selling. Here are some tips to help you do just that.

  • Be transparent: Make sure the customer knows exactly what they’re getting when they sign up for a service or product. 
  • Provide value beyond the purchase: Show customers how their purchase will benefit them in the long run, not just immediately after signing up. 
  • Listen and understand their needs: Listen actively to customers’ wants and needs so you can provide them with the best possible solution. 
  • Be proactive: Look for opportunities to offer customers advice, help troubleshoot issues or provide additional resources that can help them succeed. 

If you spend a little time focused on their needs, instead of trying to sell them something, customers will respond positively and become more engaged. 

Things to avoid in B2B selling

There are a handful of common traps that B2B sellers fall into, especially now that digital solutions are becoming more prevalent. 

  • Trying to sell too much, too soon: You need to understand the customer’s needs before you can offer them a solution. 
  • Being too aggressive with sales tactics: If customers feel like they’re being pressured into signing up for something, it will leave a sour taste in their mouths and may lead them to look elsewhere. 
  • Not following up after the purchase: Customers appreciate when companies follow up after the sale is made – this shows that you genuinely care about providing good service and not just making a sale. 
  • Ignoring customer feedback: If customers are providing you with feedback, it’s critical to consider their suggestions. This will help you improve your product or service and make sure that customers stay satisfied. 
  • Not providing enough value: As mentioned before, customers need to feel like they’re getting real value from their purchase. Make sure whatever you offer provides a noticeable benefit for the customer. Online courses are a great way to teach customers how to gain maximum value from your product or service. 

Most importantly, offer a way for them to purchase without friction – no one wants to go through a long and complicated process. 

Example of B2B tools

To help you succeed in the ever-changing B2B selling landscape, there are several tools available. 

  • CRM software: Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows businesses to store and analyze customer data such as contact information, preferences, and purchase history. This provides valuable insight into how best to target customers for sales campaigns. 
  • Data analytics platforms: Data analytics platforms allow businesses to dive deeper into customer behavior by tracking website interactions, analyzing customer feedback, and more. This helps identify trends that can be used to inform future sales strategies. 
  • Learning Management Systems: Learning management systems (LMS) allow businesses to create online learning environments for their employees, customers and partners. This helps drive customer success and generation of revenue.

These tools can help make the sales process more efficient and provide customers with a better overall experience. 

Final thoughts

B2B selling is completely different today than it was a few years ago, and it will be completely different in the future too. 

The businesses that succeed will be those who are willing to innovate and embrace new technologies to stay ahead of the curve. 

Learn how to effectively scale up your business through the power of B2B sales in this free course: 

The Ultimate Guide for Thinkific Plus: Educate At Scale : Download Now