B2B vs B2C CRMs — let’s break it down.
When launching JustReachOut, I created an enticing landing page with product information that helped promote it and convince people to prepay to use it.
Doing this helped me secure 10 users into paying $50 to use the platform, and once it was ready, they signed on for a three-month subscription.
Because I had found success with the CRM I was using, I decided to use the same software I had built the landing page with as a CRM for my sales efforts since it collected all the basic prospect information I sought. After asking prospects to fill out their email information in a form, I acquired a few hundred prospects’ email addresses.
Despite this success at getting their contact information, I realized I still didn’t have:
- Their company name
- Their role at the company
- A way to qualify them
Which meant it was clear I used the wrong CRM for my use case. What I needed was a B2B CRM software that allowed me to collect information about the prospect; qualify them based on their company and role; and send follow-ups to upsell them.
Now, there are many companies out there that target both B2C and B2B, like Amazon, Yelp, or OpenTable. If you’re a company that serves both B2C and B2B, you might need both types of CRMs. The important part to remember is your relationship with each group is different, meaning you shouldn’t use the same CRM tool for both types of customers.
Can you use the same CRM software for B2C and B2B purposes?
To know whether one CRM software is adequate, you need to understand the differences between B2B and B2C customers.
B2C customers are usually individuals while B2B clients are companies with one or multiple contacts. Is your CRM system’s database structure able to accommodate both types of datasets? If not, it may be best to use different CRM systems. Serving each group also differs because their objectives and sales processes are different.
How do B2C and B2B clients differ?
B2C clients are buying a product or service directly from you, which in most cases is for their own use. B2B clients are purchasing your products to use in their manufacturing process (e.g. automobile parts to repair cars), to sell to their customers (e.g. retail stores selling children’s toys), or they’re using a service (e.g. accounting or legal services).
As a result, the way you manage the relationship differs in the following ways:
- Managing people vs. accounts. B2C manages people while B2B manages business accounts.
- Marketing vs. sales. Both groups are marketed to, but more marketing is required in B2C to convert leads to customers as well as ongoing marketing to retain a customer. You need CRM software to support lead management, track progress along the sales pipeline, identify cross- and upselling opportunities, and provide efficient customer service.
B2B has a complex sales process initially that involves vetting processes, negotiations, contracts, and possibly more than one decision-maker. However, once the client is on board, the focus shifts from marketing to managing sales.
- Long, predictable sales cycle vs. short, unpredictable sales cycles. Once you’ve acquired B2B clients, you typically settle into a predictable sales cycle. Every week, month, or quarter your sales reps touch base with your B2B clients to confirm and dispatch orders.With B2C customers, the sales cycle is shorter and unpredictable. As marketers, you aim for repeated business, but that is not a given unless your business is membership or subscription-based.
Can you use one CRM system for both?
B2C and B2B customers do share some similarities. Both require a seamless customer experience at all stages of the sales cycle, ongoing nurturing to maintain the relationship, and excellent customer support. Your CRM software should tick all these boxes. While there are one-size-fits-all CRMs that combine both B2C and B2B functionality, having two different CRMs that can serve each type of client more effectively is a better solution.
B2B vs B2C CRM Software
In both B2C and B2B marketing, you need to pursue and win the customer. Once you’ve snagged them, they both need continued engagement, nurturing and customer support. How you accomplish this may differ slightly between the two.
B2C and B2B CRM software have different features that can help you meet the needs of each group more effectively.
What to look for in CRM software
When choosing a CRM, think about who will be using the platform. For typical sales organizations, it might look something like this:
- Sales team purchases a CRM solution
- Customer support team is added to the same CRM account
- Operations/dev is added to the same account
- Customer support team starts using it as a customer service software to document information from all types of communication: live chat, phone support, email, knowledge bases, and messaging
- Sales starts using it to document information for their pipeline, calls, and qualifying customers.
- Sales ops and development gets in there to peek at the data
- It becomes messy since the same customer might have all sorts of sales and support information, scrambling their info together
- Sales and customer support start to butt heads over their use of the CRM
Having sales and customer support using the same CRM account sometimes leads to confusion among team members. It’s a tough balance having multiple functions in your organization using the same CRM, so you need to have one that can keep your teams from messing up each other’s work on the platform.
1. Centralized 360-degree view dashboard
A CRM should have a centralized dashboard with a 360-degree view of the customers’ profile, account and purchase history. This makes it easy for sales agents to see the customers’ current status, purchasing habits, and product preferences so that they can take the appropriate action to secure a second sale. An example of this is a cloud-based phone system that comes with a CRM prebuilt in it so that both sales and customer support staff are always up-to-date.
2. Efficient sales pipeline
A sales pipeline that allows agents to track customers’ progress throughout the sales journey, spot stalled interactions or incomplete transactions, and schedule task reminders is essential. Sales agents will be able to follow up on leads and increase sales more efficiently.
3. Multi-channel support
For B2C customers, an omnichannel CRM system is a must. These customers need to be able to contact you via multiple channels, such as phone, email, messaging apps, live chat, and social media. Choose CRM software that can pull communication from different sources into one place and allow agents to respond directly from the system.
4. Integration and automation
Automation helps to streamline workflows and eliminate duplication, thereby saving time. Software that integrates with other internal and external systems also improves efficiency.
If you run an online shop, choose a CRM system that integrates with your e-commerce software so that customer details and sales automatically pull through to it. To simplify invoicing, install CRM software that can integrate with your accounting and inventory software.
6. Reporting and analytics
CRMs hold a lot of customer information and you need to use that data wisely. There’s a wealth of information at your fingertips that you can use to improve your customer service, add or remove products, and personalize your marketing efforts. But you can’t do any of it without analytics.
A lot of marketing campaigns are based on the success or failure of previous campaigns and sales history. Detailed reports that you can organize and segment data is what will help you determine what’s working and what’s not for different customer groups.
Over to you
Remember, CRM stands for customer relationship management. The faster, smarter, and more efficiently you manage that relationship, the more customers you’ll retain. If you’re running one inefficient CRM system for both B2C and B2B customers, you’re unlikely to reach your goal. It may be time to separate them.