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Selling to Other Businesses: 8 Sales Promotion Methods for a B2B Market

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

B2B marketing is different from selling to consumers. These are some ways you can do it.

  • Business-to-business marketing is quite different from traditional consumer marketing because the decision-making processes behind the sale are quite different.
  • Business owners rarely purchase on impulse, and if you want your B2B marketing efforts to be effective, you'll have to clearly demonstrate the value your product or service provides.
  • There are several proven B2B marketing methods you can follow, including both in-person and online techniques.

You can't sell to businesses the same way you would to individual consumers. Here are some promotional tactics companies can use for B2B products.

Sales promotion in consumer markets is fairly simple. Customers often look for one of two benefits – reduced prices or greater quantity. However, purchase decisions are significantly different in B2B markets. While price and quantity are major considerations, they aren't the only ones. Technical specifications, partnership agreements, strategic procurement plans and processes used play a vital role.

Suffice it to say that sales promotion tools and techniques in the B2B market are different and cater to the unique needs of organizations.

B2B sales promotions are not as extensive as consumer sales promotions. For example, coupons and codes are not used in the B2B market. There are no BOGO campaigns either. Unless the company also sells its products to the consumer market, you wouldn't see many of the traditional sales promotion techniques.

Instead, B2B sales promotion includes the following.

1. Trade shows and exhibitions

Trade shows, also known as trade fairs or business expos, are events collectively organized by multiple companies or industrial associations. Companies from a particular industry come together to display the services and products they offer.

Trade shows and exhibitions are the best places for companies to get business, sow the seeds of partnerships and advertise their technical know-how. Companies can gauge competitor performance, and investors can look for businesses to invest in.

2. Sample products

Sometimes, if the product a company launches is new to the market, manufacturers choose to send free samples to their prospective customers. The objective is to allow the customer to use the product and make a purchase decision. The salesperson visits the client with a sample unit of the new product. If given the green light, they help their prospect install and use the product.

Samples are of great importance in B2B markets. B2B products are highly money-intensive. The sample that the customer gets could make or break the deal, and the results will have long-term implications.

3. Trade-ins

This is similar to the trade-ins in consumer markets. Customers are offered a discount on the price of a new model of the product in exchange for the older version. This is highly effective in B2B markets, as companies can make significant savings offloading old or damaged parts in exchange for new and state-of-the-art products.

4. Price reductions

This technique is used during reverse auctions, where suppliers bid for buyers. Here, the price of the product is reduced to compete with the price reductions offered by other suppliers. The lowest bidder wins the auction.

5. Promotional products

Keychains with the company logo, T-shirts with the product name and pens with the image of the brand's mascot are some examples of promotional products. If a company purchases from a supplier, the seller may give gifts in the form of stationery, clothing, water bottles and so on to the customer. The products will usually have a symbol associated with the company or the brand, and they serve to reinforce and remind the purchaser of the supplier. This is a favored technique in B2B sales.

6. Social media promotions

Social media isn't just for connecting to consumers. It's also a great resource for reaching other businesses. Sites like LinkedIn and Twitter are great for engaging with other businesses and brands that may be in the market for your product or service.

According to a study by Hinge Marketing, 60% of buyers check out an unknown brand on social media before they purchase. This gives B2B companies a great opportunity to prove their value to potential customers through their social media profiles.

The best part is their profile will tell you immediately if they could be a potential customer. You can use filter and other digital tools to target specific businesses that may need your help. It’s no replacement for in person interaction, but it can be a great resource to get the conversation started.

7. Search engine optimization

If you're looking to generate new leads, optimizing your website for search engines is a great way to let businesses owners find you. One of the first things people do when they are in need of almost anything, is search it on Google.  If your business is the first or second result when a user searches your industry or service, you can expect a steady stream of leads.

Depending on the complexity of your website or business, you could choose to hire an SEO specialist or do it yourself. Creating content is one of the simplest ways to improve your SEO. Just put yourself in the mind of your ideal customer and try to imagine what they might search that could lead them to your business.

If you sell an accounting software for small businesses, you may write a blog post about the top 10 accounting mistakes small businesses should avoid. Anyone searching any of those related phrases likely owns a business and is apprehensive about making mistakes with their taxes. Once they are on your webpage, they are one step closer to purchasing.

8. Email marketing

Email marketing goes hand in hand with social media and SEO. Those are both great tactics for attracting new leads, while email marketing is great for turning those leads into consistent customers. Businesses owners are far less likely to buy a product on an impulse than regular consumers. They are more likely shop around to find the best deal and email marketing is a great strategy for keeping in touch with those customers who view your product but don’t immediately buy.

It's a great way to offer coupons and announce any events or new merch your company is offering. Any extra incentive you can give to convince readers of your value could mean the difference between a failed connection and a lifelong customer.  

You should offer incentives for customers to subscribe to your email list. Free trials are always good if it’s possible for what you’re offering. Exclusive content and educational materials like eBooks and video tutorials work also.

What you offer depends on your business and what you think your customer base will want. [Found out how CRM software can help with customer data management.] It never hurts to get creative and come up with a strategy that hasn’t been done before. Whatever it is, just make sure you provide real value to your customers, not just spam, or you won't make much of an impact. 

Image Credit: Nopphon-Pattanasri / Getty Images
business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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