Marketing Effectiveness

B2B Selling: Alive and Kicking

B2B selling is alive and well: Here’s how to win.


Is B2B selling dead? As covered in an earlier video blog, elements of it certainly are.

The Harvard Business Review proclaims that “[f]ace-to-face, transactional selling is dead,” noting that “[o]ver the last decade, the world of business-to-business selling has changed beyond recognition . . . where customers want to do transactional business, it is far more effective for both buyer and seller to use the Internet or telephone.”

The blog asserts that “the B2B sales funnel is dead,” because it assumes a single purchaser on a linear path, the opposite of today’s B2B reality where more than one buyer follows multiple concurrent paths.

“”The importance of the salesperson on this personalized journey depends on the complexity of the selling situation”

Clearly the market has changed. The buying process and the buyers’ expectations have shifted. Buyers are applying analogous models/expectations from their personal buying experiences and expect instant access to the information they need to make their purchasing decisions, rather than relying on the information doled out by their sales contact.

But is the role of the B2B salesperson dead? Far from it. The onus to create a personalized and meaningful relationship that extends beyond the sales cycle is on the sales representative. As Sirius Decisions notes, “if a rep is building value with the buyer at every stage in the sales process, the close should be a natural outcome.”

The importance of the sales rep on this personalized journey depends on the complexity of the selling situation: the more complex, the larger the rep’s role. Three elements combine to create the selling situation:

  • Offering: How complex is the product or service? The answer can vary from the simple transaction of commodity selling to the complicated collaborative process involved in selling custom solutions.
  • Decision:  How hard is it to buy? Can a single buyer make the decision or does it require a committee’s consensus and approval. Most B2B purchases are higher cost and involve a complex decision making unit (DMU).
  • Approach: How can it be sold? Can one click do the job to reorder a commodity or is a professional consultation required?

The degree to which a salesperson is disintermediated from the process depends on the complexity of these three facets of the selling situation. When selling standard or commoditized products that are easier to purchase  —  lower cost with singular buyers — an eCommerce-oriented selling model will suffice. But as the facets of the selling situation become more complex, the need for a professional salesperson to guide the process for the client increases.

Where does marketing come into play?  Today B2B sales requires marketers and sales professionals to collaborate in creating the right messaging to address the right target before the traditional, in-person sales process even starts.

Getting the message across in a short span of time and in a digital manner requires marketing to create and deliver what is essentially the “sales elevator pitch” without the elevator  —  messaging designed to pitch to the prospect in a virtual environment. With less time in front of a more informed prospect, every second counts and every word matters.

In working with Baker Tilly’s Growth Strategies clients, we’ve found that growing top-line revenue really comes down to focusing on four key things:

  • Find More: Find new prospects through demand generation
  • Win More: Surpass the competition to close business
  • Do More: Capture greater share-of-wallet from the existing customer base
  • Keep More: Manage customer relationships to retain business and reduce churn

Doing this requires a holistic view of the buyer journey throughout the relationship, from prospect to repeat customer.

Find out how Baker Tilly can help your organization rise to the challenge and increase marketing effectiveness in today’s B2B selling reality.