What Differences Impact B2B vs. B2C Sales Strategies?
Imagine you’re a brand selling office supplies. One side of your audience consists of consumers that shop your products for their home office or desk at work. They choose each item individually, they purchase each one on the spot and take it home with them right then and there. Easy.
The other side of your audience consists of businesses who buy office supplies for their office supply store to sell to their own customers. They may buy in bulk and purchase from you over and over again if they’re satisfied with your products.
Sales and marketing strategies for B2C (business to consumer) are completely different than strategies for B2B (business to business) sales. There are lots of factors to consider and differentiate between when targeting each audience.
Let’s tackle each of the differences between B2B and B2C sales and define how you can use B2B vs. B2C sales strategies to effectively target these two very different audiences.
The Relationship With The Purchase
One of the very upfront differences between B2B vs. B2C sales strategies is understanding the relationship that the buyer has with the purchase they’re making.
As a consumer, you make a purchase and it’s over with. This type of purchasing tends to be impulsive (at least with certain products) and is an on-the-spot deal. You go to the store, grab a bottle of lotion off the shelf, purchase it, and done. That’s all there is to it, it’s pretty transactional.
While the consumer relationship is simple and straightforward, the B2B purchasing relationship goes more in-depth. Business to business purchases are longstanding and build relationships—relationships that benefit both sides.
Partnerships are commonly formed between businesses when transactions happen, and it takes more time to build these fruitful relationships with another company—it takes time to launch a purchase and it continues time and time again if you’re doing things right).
The Lead Pool Size
While marketing and selling to consumers could potentially reach millions of people who meet your targeted audience qualifications, B2B lead pool sizes are significantly smaller.
As you intend to sell to a much smaller group of people in B2B sales, your targeted messaging has to be more personalized and specific to that small niche of people. This isn’t a bad or overly challenging thing, it’s just a different thing.
If you’re targeting a smaller group of contacts in your audience with B2B sales, you’re assuming they have a larger budget, greater and more personalized needs, and they’ll be in it for the long haul with your brand if you complete sales well.
For example, you have the latest and coolest protein snacks on the market. While your B2C audience is made up of individuals who want to build muscle mass and indulge without guilt, your B2B audience doesn’t fall under that same persona. In this instance, you’re selling to large business audiences such as natural good stores, vitamin shops, gyms, etc.
The point is, you’re meeting the needs of their business in order for that business to meet the needs of its own consumers. Whereas when selling directly to a consumer, you’re meeting the needs of personal goals and requirements to meet those goals.
This example is exactly why specificity is vital in sales pitches. A blanket approach that you can use with nationwide ads for all people who have been to the gym a few times since New Years will not work for a business sale.
You have to go deeper and think business strategy and what that business needs—help them see how they will make some money from the purchase they made from you. How do you do this? Deliver your value before you sell.
The Importance of Value
While everyone (consumer or business) wants to see the value you have to offer, value comes into play differently for each audience.
Let’s roll with the above example. Your super rad protein snacks are going to help Consumer A build the muscle mass he’s working towards. He’ll buy a box of your snacks, try them out, and see how they work. He loves them? Cool, he’ll be back to buy more. He doesn’t love them (maybe the flavor isn’t the kind of taste he goes for), he won’t be purchasing again. But no big deal, he bought one box and he doesn’t have to buy another one.
When the natural food stores, vitamin shops, and gyms purchase your snacks, they’re purchasing to then sell and make money on people like Consumer A.
Let’s say many of their customers feel the same way Consumer A felt. They don’t love your product as much as anyone hoped. Now the store has X number of snacks left to sell that they spent a whole lot of money on … and they can’t do it. You sold them on the value of your product but their own customers don’t see that value themselves.
Here’s the point: Value is a huge, HUGE component of any sale. And the value of a sale to another business has to be a value they feel is worth their while and their dollar and will translate to their own customers.
Is it worth it? Does this benefit their bottom line and help them grow? These are all values businesses are looking to be sold on before they decide to purchase from you.
Related Article to Learn More About Presenting Your Value
Have you ever walked into a sales meeting between two businesses? There’s almost always more than one decision-maker in the room—CEOs, marketing directors, business owners, stakeholders, etc. You’re not just selling to a single individual in a B2B sale, you’re selling to a board (or a room full) of decision-makers.
This concept is much different when it comes to B2C sales. You’ve most likely never seen an entire family (grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, sister’s boyfriend’s cousin) part of the same decision-making group—unless they’re all going in on an expensive yacht purchase together. There’s generally one decision-maker in a household. This is the case for an individual or in the case of a single buyer for a family.
This concept needs to be kept in mind when targeting consumers vs. targeting businesses. Who are you selling to? How many people do you have to sell to individually in order to complete a sale? It might be one, it might be 12. Your B2B vs. B2C sales strategies have to be adjusted based on who you’re selling to and how many people you have to convince to make a purchase.
Response To Sales
Think about the last time you made a trip to the store. You made a purchase. Why? Whatever you bought tapped into your wants, your desires, your emotions.
Here’s an example: You go to the grocery store to buy food for the week. You’re currently on a diet and are shopping for healthy options. Down the clean eating aisle, you find the perfect snack: a healthy chocolate bar. That chocolate bar aligns with your goals, satisfies your love for chocolate without making you feel guilty. and connects your desire to lose weight, eat healthy, and enjoy food. There’s the emotion.
Now let’s say you’re that healthy chocolate bar company selling to the grocery store. Are you going to tap into the emotions of the grocery store in order to make that sale? Probably not.
What the store is concerned with is the value your bar will bring to them as a business—will it sell to their customers and make their business money? There is no emotional connection there—that’s where the B2B sales process is different.
B2B is all about investments, returns, costs, advantages and disadvantages, overall value—not emotions. The sales cycle of the B2B purchase to the B2C sale they make to the consumer is what matters to them.
Approach sales and marketing to other businesses knowing they have to make this decision with a rational mind. And know they have the capability to do so too.
The Stuff Your Sales and Marketing Team Needs to Know
Does your sales and marketing team have enough product knowledge to actually sell your products? Detailed, in-depth information is what people want.
Both B2B and B2C sales strategies and marketing plans require more knowledge than ever before. This is because companies and individual customers know their stuff, which means you have to know more. You have to have additional wisdom and apply your knowledge and sales tactics in creative ways, giving them much more than they can just Google.
This is especially necessary in B2B because we’re talking technical sales here. If you’re selling software, you better know the ins and outs of how it works. And what it integrates with. And how it can be customized.
An ideal sales strategy consists of everything you could possibly know to prove this product is vital to your customer’s success. A sales and marketing strategy that doesn’t go that in-depth isn’t a very good strategy at all.
Your sales and marketing teams need continued sales training on products and services. What’s new? What’s more advanced than the last product they sold? They should know the answer to any possible question a customer might ask before making a purchase. Train ‘em right.
The B2B vs. B2C Sales Strategy Takeaway
Making B2B vs. B2C sales can be vastly different. There’s an ideal sales strategy for each, both of which are tailored to the needs and wants of who you’re selling to.
Know the type of value you have to propose to your customer. Be aware of the relationship that will come out of a purchase and make sure you tailor that relationship to the needs of that situation. Adjust your sales strategy depending on the number of people you have to convince to complete that one sale. And know your stuff—make sure your team knows their stuff too.
If your brand strategy and sales strategy don’t align or you’re stuck using B2C sales techniques when your intention is to sell B2B, let’s have a constructive conversation.
Buy us a beer and we will talk about what’s working for you now and what can be adjusted in order to get B2B and B2C sales strategies in order and get the customers you wanna get.