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3 B2B Sales Strategies Proven to Win More Customers (Case Study)

B2B sales strategy

Post summary:

  • B2B sales has changed. What used to work is no longer possible as the B2B buyer is firmly in control. Here’s what you need to know about the modern day sales process.
  • What are the buying habits and traits of a modern B2B buyer? How can you use research to connect, build relationships with them and eventually, sell your product or service to them?
  • We share 3 proven B2B sales strategies that we’ve used to convert more leads into sales and share the exact process we used to do it.

It’s no secret:

Selling to B2B customers is hard.

At times, it can feel almost impossible.

Of course, selling was never easy.

But, the days when a salesperson was in charge of the buying process are long gone.

Today’s buyers prefer to conduct research and select what to buy on their own, without any influence from a vendor:

Surprisingly, only 17% of the entire B2B buying process is spent meeting with potential suppliers.

But, does this mean that the days of reaching your sales quotas are gone?

No, of course not!

However, to keep closing new deals, you first need to understand the dynamics of modern B2B sales. Then, you need learn the sales strategies that will help you achieve it.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to share with you today.

In this article, we’ll discuss the meaning of business to business sales, how to do B2B sales in 2021 (to win big!) and, we'll share practical sales strategies that you can implement to overcome modern day sales challenges.

But, first...

What is B2B sales?

B2B sales, also known as business to business sales, refers to companies who primarily sell products and services to businesses, rather than direct to consumers (B2C). B2B sales typically have higher order values, longer sales cycles and are often more complex than B2C sales.

B2B sales has changed dramatically in recent years and the B2B sales strategies that used to work are no longer effective.

But, why? How has B2B sales changed?

B2B sales used to be a lot easier.

If a person needed a product or solution, they’d reach out to a potential vendor and deal with a sales person, who’d pitch them with the best options to choose. And if they were happy with what they heard, they would make a purchase.

Simple, right?

It was a relatively straight forward process, in which marketing was responsible for filling up the sales funnel with leads, and then for sales teams, they were responsible for getting those leads into a sales pipeline and moving them down the funnel and into a sale.

It was predictable.

traditional b2b sales

Now, compare that with the buying process B2B buyers go through today:

  1. A person identifies a problem,
  2. They research it online, then,
  3. They also conduct further research to discover all potential solutions,
  4. They reach out to friends for recommendations, and check what others say about a particular solution on social media, forums, and other online sources,
  5. They Google this particular solution and read online reviews,
  6. During the sales process, they might also click an ad offering a solution, finally,
  7. Based on all information make a buying decision, and only then
  8. They might reach out to the company to complete the sale.

That’s a big change!

So, instead of the predictable nature that sales used to be, it's now more like this:

modern day b2b sales

As Millward Brown Digital point out in their “Navigating the New Path to Purchase” report:

“The traditional purchase funnel diagram, one which any marketer could sketch from memory, is officially dead. The singular, orderly sequence of purchase stages has been scrambled, and marketers need to conform. In today’s world, where consumers have access to constant information through computers, smart phones and tablets, each person’s path to purchase is complex and unique.“

And so, businesses have changed how they purchase new products or services. They now base a buying decision on internal research, which includes anything from Google search, friend recommendations, and scouting many other web sources.

Today, buyers can research a product digitally through websites, forums, social media, and free trials.

In fact, buyers can go as much as 60-70% of their decision-making process without ever having to engage with a salesperson!

As a result, the roles of sales and marketing has significantly changed, with marketing teams taking over many aspects of the sales process. This means the role of sales has been reduced to assisting in the final stages of the process - evaluating potential alternatives, and making the actual purchase.

This is a big shift and it brings a number of challenges for modern B2B sales teams to overcome.

A new B2B buyer has emerged

According to Hanne Tuomisto-Inch, the B2B Industry Head at Google, many younger professionals, between ages 18 and 35, now occupy positions that give them the decision-making power in the buying process.

These younger professionals are prone to using digital technologies in the buying process, in turn revolutionizing how they purchase products or services.

For one, they prefer to conduct research themselves, and use the wealth of content available to help them on their journey. In fact, according to Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers admit to conducting online research before making a buying decision.

And this number is continuously growing year on year.

percentage of items researched online before purchase

And as Accenture points out, buyers reply on a variety of online sources to make a purchase decision. These sources include websites, search engines, third-party review sites, blogs and social media.

Modern buyers are highly skeptical about sales and marketing messages they encounter.

According to a Forrester report, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem.

At the same time, salespeople continue to focus on selling, rather than helping prospects along their path to purchase.

It’s no wonder that 68% of buyers prefer to interact with salespeople who listen to their needs and provide them with relevant information. And that 57% admitted they’d prefer to purchase from a salesperson who “doesn’t try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up.

It’s also no surprise that sales teams who incorporate social selling into their strategies tend to perform better than those that don’t.

social selling effectiveness

Here’s another thing that’s changed in recent years:

Today’s buyers now take longer to make a purchase decision.

Did you know that the length of the average B2B sales cycle has increased by 22% in the last five years?

One reason for that is more people involved in the process. Another, the wealth of information available buyers can use to base their decisions on.

This, combined with the shift in the selling process, forces organizations to try and connect with customers and start nurturing them as early in the process as possible.

Modern buyers pay a lot of attention to peer recommendations.

Today, you can find an opinion about pretty much anything online.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that modern buyers use social media, forums, and other channels to learn more about potential solutions they evaluate.

Recently, Forrester discovered that B2B buyers find 3 pieces of content about your firm for each piece of content your organization has created. And what’s more, they put huge trust in that information.

Google/TNS and Ogilvy discovered that word of mouth is the most powerful influencer in purchasing decision, beating other channels like a company’s website and interaction with the vendor.

Finally, they are also aware of risks associated with purchases.

Modern buyers want to feel confident that they’ve made the right decision, and try to do as much as possible to mitigate post-purchase dissatisfaction during the sales process.

As Shelley Cernel writes:

Prospects often second-guess themselves over making the right choices or are afraid to commit and potentially missing out on a better vendor. B2B buyers are also increasingly seeking out ways to identify and reduce risk factors, including damage to professional credibility, reduction in job security, inability of the software to technically perform as promised, and loss of monetary investments.

All this results in a wide range of challenges for the modern B2B sales teams to overcome:

  • The increase of available information allows prospects to go through the sales process by themselves, without any need for interaction with the vendor. This resulted in a diminished influence of salespeople over the buyer's choice.
  • Sales and marketing teams become more misaligned, often confused as to their roles in the new sales process.
  • Buyers become skeptical about marketing and sales messages, and the trustworthiness of sales in general.
  • And social media and peers, instead of salespeople, hold a strong influence over buying decisions.

How to overcome modern sales challenges

Luckily, there are ways to overcome these sales challenges, and here are 3 of the most effective ways to help you generate better quality leads.

1. Embrace sales enablement to help prospects make better buying decisions

Just because today’s buyers prefer to conduct research online themselves, it doesn’t mean that they can’t interact with you during the process.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

You see, B2B buyers rely on the content to guide them through the buying process, and gain the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision.

And although they can easily find the information, it isn’t always the right kind of information.

And here lies your opportunity.

Create a content library including all your assets that answer the most common questions your target audience asks at different stages of their buying journey.


content library for b2b sales

Once you have created a content library, you can then ask your salespeople to proactively share them with their prospects.

But, what kind of content should you share?

Research from Live Hive found that decision makers are much more responsive towards sales reps when they include case studies, industry articles, sales collateral and white papers in their outbound strategy.

And if you still doubt how effective this is, consider the following:

  • 95% of buyers select a vendor who provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process
  • 68% of customers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it
  • 82% of buyers viewed at least 5 pieces of content from the winning vendor
  • And companies that develop sales enablement strategies typically win 13.7% higher contract value

Once our sales teams started using content from our library and sharing it with their network on LinkedIn, they saw an increase in reach (impressions) grow from 1,600 views per month to now more than 45,000 views!

Using social media for B2B sales

Prospects are seeing more of our content than ever before and as we are sharing the right kind of content, we are able to generate better quality leads.

2. Make salespeople the spokesmen (and women) for your brand

Sending your prospects relevant content will help you close more deals.

But, that’s not the only way to use content to overcome modern B2B sales challenges.

Another way is to position your salespeople as experts in the field.

Here’s why:

We know that modern B2B buyers are becoming increasingly skeptical about sales and marketing messages.

And that many B2B buyers want to interact with salespeople who listen to their needs and provide them with relevant information.

Now, imagine how buyers would feel about a sales rep (and in turn, the brand they work for) that has shared insights and information relevant to their pain points?

Yes, you guessed it - as expert's worth paying attention to!

Here’s how you can achieve this.

Have salespeople create and share content that’s helpful, informative and relevant to the buyer’s pain points, and allow them to publish articles on your company’s blog (and repost on their LinkedIn profile).


Stein Ove Sektnan, Managing Director at SuperOffice UAB has been sharing original content on LinkedIn since 2014. The content he creates covers CRM, customer service, data management and strategy - all related to his experience.

Building expertise in sales through content

In this piece on customer complaints, the post received 46 likes and 15 shares.

Based on average number of LinkedIn connections (approx. 900), this means his content was seen by 50,000 people!

Creating unique content for B2B sales

When your sales team create content, make sure that the content they publish provides a unique perspective on prospect’s challenges, and then provide them with actionable insights they could use to progress through the customer journey.

3. Align sales and marketing teams to work towards the same goal

According to various studies, sales and marketing misalignment can cost companies 10% or more of revenue per year.

Then again, it’s not that surprising, is it?

Think about the typical problems arising from misalignment:

  • Lack of common definition of a qualified lead, resulting in marketing delivering contacts salespeople simply can’t close.
  • No unified content library, meaning that sales teams can’t find assets to forward to prospects. And we’ve already discussed how crucial that is to the sales process.
  • Irrelevant KPIs that fail to assist in improving each team’s performance

At the same time, 56% of companies with both teams aligned met their revenue goals, and 19% exceeded them.

Other benefits of aligning sales and marketing include increased brand awareness, an increase in average deal size and annual company revenue.

sales marketing alignment impact on business growth

And do you know what the secret is to be achieving this?

Use content to align both teams.

Research by Corporate Visions found that less than a third of businesses include sales teams in messaging and content creation.

So, here’s how you can get started:

  • Create a content library, and get marketing teams to regularly contribute assets salespeople can then use to generate better quality leads.
  • Let marketers educate sales teams on when and how to use the content
  • Allow salespeople to guide new content development by contributing their ideas.
  • Host regular meetings between two teams to coordinate their efforts.

We use this exact approach at SuperOffice when it comes to using content to align sales and marketing teams.

Here's how:

  1. Marketing create content around a specific challenge or pain-point
  2. Marketing share the content with our salespeople
  3. Marketing and sales share the content through email and social media
  4. Salespeople take the content and create a PowerPoint presentation to use in a webinar
  5. Salespeople invite all leads that downloaded the content to a live webinar

sales marketing alignment via content

The reason this approach works is that salespeople not only take the content that marketing have created and use it to host a webinar, but they use it to move prospects further down the buyers funnel by addressing specific needs they have that our product can solve.

By now, the prospect has read the content, attended a live webinar and seen how our product solves their challenges - resulting in a better quality and more qualified lead for our sales team.


B2B sales has changed.

It’s no longer as simple as waiting for prospects to come to you.

Instead, you need to be proactive and find the channels where potential customers are and share relevant content with them that addresses their needs. You also need to work closely with your marketing department and use the content they create as a sales tool to move prospects further down the sales funnel.

By doing this, you will start building stronger business relationships with your buyers and, more importantly, you will gain their trust - and that's the the key to succeeding in modern B2B sales.

What's your biggest challenge in B2B sales?

Sell more by measuring the key performance indicators (KPI's) that matter and download our free sales KPI guide.


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Tim Brown

3 years ago

Really helpful article! The modern buyer really has changed B2B sales. Instead of spending all of my day by the phone cold calling prospects, I now spend all day online and use social selling to reach out to potential customers.


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3 years ago

Great article, Steven! As you've said, "82% of buyers viewed at least 5 pieces of content from the winning vendor." How about using video content to engage your audience and increase B2B sales?


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Steven MacDonald

3 years ago

Thanks, Glenda! Great suggestion. If you're selling to B2B buyers, then video is a great way to present content.


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3 years ago

Thanks Steve for the article on B2B sales! It was worth reading. I will try to put this information into practice.


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Steven MacDonald

3 years ago

Glad you liked it!


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Lynette Pieterse

2 years ago

Good day! I'm new to the B2B sales world, so very happy to learn about these strategies.


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Fredrick Carter

one year ago

Great article, with very helpful information. What companies and marketing teams should remember, however, is that any communication under the brand name is corporate communication and must not be taken frivolously. Not only can this result in loss of trust, but also lead to lawsuits!


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Dave Simon

one year ago

Professional services like solicitors, accountancy and architects are different again. Their buyers may be businesses or consumers, but because professional services are invisible, even greater trust issues slow down buyers. A complex sale process in such circumstances needs to be managed even more carefully. And yet – so often – professionals advertise their authority and expertise in specialized terminology (jargon) that is effectively unfriendly to potential clients. The entire client-attracting pathway can stretch over 12 steps. Websites are on the first step. But unfriendly steps later on can block progress towards agreement – probably playing an important part in the 9 out of 10 people searching for help from solicitors who give up.


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Ankur Sethiya

one year ago

Great Article Steven. Thanks for sharing the wonderful article on B2B sales! It was worth reading.


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Rune Ellingsen

one year ago

Love this article! Very thorough explanation of how B2B sales works today.


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Pandi Subash

one year ago

While some small businesses still believe in the principle ‘they will come if we build’, most businesses are realizing that that is not the case at all. Marketing and sales strategies play a very important role in the success of most companies. After realizing the importance of sales and marketing, most SMBs’ first reaction is to panic since they most likely don’t have enough money to compete with their big corporations with deep pockets. In truth, however, it is the small business who are at an advantage compared to big ones. Their small size allows them to easily pursue excellence and set very high standards for themselves. They have the luxury to come up with unique cost-effective strategies and ideas and quickly implement them. Here's a few examples of cost effective sales strategies: 1. Don’t slack on after-sale service 2. Begin with trials or free samples 3. Deploy up-selling techniques 4. Take advantage of content marketing 5. Incentive programs 6. Be unique – it has nothing to do with money


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Steven MacDonald

one year ago

Well said, Pandi. Thank you!


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Shayur Maharaj

one year ago

Great piece! I will definitely be implementing these sales strategies in my business.


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David Blaise

one year ago

Great takeaways, Steven, thank you. Creating a content library to answer your target market's most common questions through the various stages of their buying journey is simple but powerful. And getting sales and marketing teams aligned is often overlooked, creating a tremendous source of confusion for prospective buyers when there's a disconnect.


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Dave G.

one year ago

Thanks for sharing these great B2B sales strategies!


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Chris Temperante

one year ago

It’s true that B2B sales can be challenging in today’s environment. A lot of that has to do with the fact that buyers have changed over the past few years. It is up to sales professionals to stay current on what works and what doesn’t.


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Logan Torres

one year ago

Thank you for sharing this article. Great B2B sales strategies!


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Chris Temperante

10 months ago

B2B sales has certainly changed a lot over the years and in many verticals, become much more complex. It’s important to keep up with new techniques like account-based marketing and social selling, while at the same time, mastering the basics like marketing-sales alignment. This article has good advice.


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9 months ago

Very apt content I must say. Many sales persons have been battling to gain control over the shift in B2B selling and herein lies the solutions. Thank you


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9 months ago

Great post. It's great to understand the reasons behind all of those aggressive callers, lol. Online business is a thriving business if you know what you are doing and/or have people on your behalf helping things go smoothly and bringing in B2B sales. Thanks for sharing.


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Priya Sharma

9 months ago

Such an informative article on B2B sales. I got a lot to learn from it. Thanks for sharing it with us. I am surely going to share it with my network.


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Tourist guide

7 months ago

It’s true that B2B sales can be challenging in today’s environment. A lot of that has to do with the fact that buyers have changed over the past few years. It is up to sales professionals to stay current on what works and what doesn’t.


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