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B2B is short for business to business. It refers to companies — or salespeople — who sell products chiefly to other businesses, rather than selling them to consumers. B2B sales are often more complex than B2C (business to consumer) sales. Not only do B2B salespeople often sell to professional buyers who are trained to get the best possible deal, they also often have to sell to teams of decision makers, all of whom must be convinced that this product is the best.
B2B sales come in three general types. The first is selling products that meet a businesses needs, like office supplies or computer equipment. The sales approach is usually similar to a B2C process, except that there are usually extra steps such as getting approval from a department head or buying authority. Generally speaking, the more expensive and/or complex the product, the longer the sales cycle will take and the more people will be involved on the purchasing side.
The second type of B2B sales is selling components that the business will then use to manufacture its own products. For example, a tire manufacturer might sell tires to a car manufacturer. A related supply chain would be a wholesaler selling products to a retailer, who then turns around and sells them to consumers at a marked-up price. One example is a food wholesaler who sells products to grocery store chains.
Finally, B2B sales can involve a service rather than a physical product. A tax accountant who specializes in small business taxes is a classic example. Another very common B2B service provider is a networking or computer consultant firm that sets up technical systems for businesses and assists them with any problems.
B2B sales is generally perceived as being more challenging than B2C sales, and it frequently involves products and services that cost far more. As a result, B2B sales positions often pay better than their B2C equivalents — both because the salaries are higher and because such large individual sales naturally yield higher commissions.
About the author
My first sales position was a summer job selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. I continued through a variety of sales jobs ranging from retail sales for a storage company to selling bank products for a Fortune 500 financial institution.
As a small business owner, I now focuses on selling for my own company, Tailored Content, a website content provider. I write on a wide range of topics but my primary focus is sales and how to sell effectively.