B2B sales vs B2C sales – what’s the difference?
Well there are plenty of differences, but one fundamental alignment is that selling always revolves around the customer.
If you engage the customer right, sales will always follow.
Ignore the customer and your business will fold up.
Because the customer is paramount, the first item on any business’ agenda should be
- To know exactly who your customer is
- Adopt a sales process with omnichannel technology tools to improve your customer experience
Fortunately, it is easy to identify the business type based on the kind of customers a company caters to. Most business units follow one of two business models based on the type of customers they engage: B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer).
B2B companies are enterprises whose customers are business organizations like themselves. Think airbag manufacturers like Takata and Autoliv who sell their products and technologies to automakers like Ford and Audi.
Or consider Salesforce and IBM Watson, whose primary customers are businesses in need of a CRM solution or an AI platform, respectively.
On the other hand, B2C companies are those which directly reach out and sell to ever human, sentimental, and often fickle consumers.
The corner cafe is one good example. So is Apple (mostly), with its full ecosystem of digital consumer products.
For the cafe owner, establishing a memorable and unique ambience may be as important as brewing high quality beverage in keeping the place appealing to customers.
For an electronics manufacturer and software developer like Apple, UX design, hardware aesthetics, online stores and libraries, cutting-edge branding, and customer support spell the difference between failure and success.
Many companies follow a single engagement model but the number of enterprises who adopt elements from both types are increasing. For example, most of the biggest names in tech such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon now operate units that focus on consumers as well as units that engage enterprises.
Notably, a growing number of business thinkers believe that the boundaries separating B2B and B2C companies are getting more blurred by the minute.
But before we completely lose sight of the distinction, here’s a table detailing similarities and differences of B2B and B2C engagements.
B2B and B2C Engagement: Similarities and Differences
In B2B selling, customers make buying decisions based on rational and strategic considerations. These include how a product or service can generate value for the company (e.g., improve process efficiencies, upgrade services to its own customers, improve profit margins, drive revenue, etc.).
If a B2B seller successfully demonstrates that the value generated by a product or service far exceeds the cost of acquisition, then the prospective buyer will be more inclined to opt in.
On the other hand, B2C audiences tend to make purchases based on how a brand establishes an emotional connection. As such, most B2C messaging typically appeal to consumers’ personal desires and value systems.
Financially capable consumers will not hesitate to purchase an expensive brand if it matches their aesthetic preferences or fills a need for maintaining social status — even when less costly but equally functional alternatives are available. In contrast, cost-efficiency and functionality are paramount concerns among B2B buyers.
Because B2B buyers make a purchase only when a specific set of criteria is met (i.e., functional specifications, business requirements, cost considerations), B2B sellers generally need a more thorough product knowledge to effectively engage, educate and drive conversations with their target audience.
Moreover, B2B sellers also need top-notch communication skills to establish meaningful and long-term relationships with all the decision makers authorized by a company to effect a purchase.
Key Takeaways from the B2C Universe
Changes in technology and customer behavior — among other things — are blurring the line between B2C and B2B selling. With information on just about any product readily available on the Internet, the premium for deep product knowledge seems to be slightly taking a dip.
Moreover, people who make up both markets now tend to prefer learning about a product first personally before agreeing to have a conversation with a sales or a marketing professional — if ever.
In many instances, saving time by expediting the purchase decision process seems more valuable than having an extended demo about something the buyer is already aware of. Changing business models and diversification are also transforming purely B2C companies into B2B enterprises, and vice versa. Apple, Samsung and Amazon are excellent examples of brands resonating among both end consumers and enterprise customers.
Under these conditions, the B2B seller may well adopt sales and marketing tactics typically executed by B2C sales teams.
1) Establishing excellent and meaningful customer experiences at all stages of the sales cycle
3) Keeping your brand relevant to your core audience
4) Enabling convenient customer engagements anywhere and at anytime through multiple channels such as mobile and web.
Whether decision-makers are focusing on the rationale behind a product’s appeal or the emotional uplift it delivers, the new economy always demands a customer-centric experience.
After all, brand-to-market interactions in both B2B and B2C ecosystems always involve people. It’s no coincidence that many forward-looking companies already added a Chief Customer Success Officer in their leadership roster as a strategic initiative going forward.
Also published on Medium.