B2B vs B2C Sales: What Are the Key Differences and Similarities?

When getting started in sales, it is crucial to always understand the customer you are selling to. Sadly, only 13% of customers believe salespeople are capable of understanding their needs. That leaves 87% of salespeople who don’t truly connect with their prospects, endangering the deal right out of the gates.

By knowing exactly who you are targeting, along with what messaging is appropriate for the scenario, you avoid wasting time and resources on the wrong prospects — a misstep that can result in confused goals and missed opportunities.

Knowing the difference between B2B and B2C is a fundamental part of sales, and the significant differences between the two can trip up anyone who’s just getting their start in the industry. 

Understanding your customer base, the sales angle you should be using, and your ultimate sales objective is the first step to finding success in sales.

What are B2B and B2C?

B2B, or business to business, is a form of business focused on selling products or services to other businesses, like CRMs and other software that help companies conduct business. 

B2C, or business to consumer, is a form of business focused on selling products or services to consumers, such as your neighborhood grocery or the Apple store.

In order to succeed in either B2B or B2C sales, you must first understand what game you’re playing and what strategy you should formulate, as well as the tools and procedures necessary to succeed.

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The Difference Between B2B and B2C

So what distinguishes a B2B company from a B2C?

It’s all about who you’re actually selling to.

Selling B2B requires that your approach be more logic-driven and results-oriented. Companies want provable data, and operate with a bigger focus on time, money, and efficiency of resources. Consequently, B2B buying cycles tend to be much longer and involve many decision-makers. In fact, the individual that salespeople first talk to at a business is usually not the one who ultimately makes the buying decision. 

Pro tip: It’s important as a B2B salesman to have the right tools to do the job efficiently.

B2B buyers tend to be well-researchedAbout 57 percent of B2B buyers are ready to talk to a sales rep only once they’ve done their own research, and are well into the buyer’s process. If they’ve done their own proper research, it’s important that the salesperson they work with be equally prepared.

B2C, on the other hand, requires a different process from B2B. Your target is the average consumer, so any message for customers should be simple and delivered in an easily-digestible form, using a more inviting and personal tone. There are not a lot of decision-makers in this sales process, which results in a quicker, more dynamic process. The two markets are also very different in size. The U.S. B2C e-commerce market in 2018 was about $512 billion, while the B2B e-commerce marketplace was $1.1 trillion — over double in size.


Branding for B2B vs B2C

It’s necessary to use different branding strategies for B2B and B2C.

Typical B2B channels for brand awareness include industry forums, professional networks, websites, and white papers. Market size is relatively smaller when compared to B2C, with more of a focus on niche and focused markets.

The product should have features which make operations more efficient and productive for your customers, and which assist with customer support. It should also establish a strategic advantage or generate value for them in some way.

Customer education and brand awareness are another important focus for B2B. Public billboards or other forms of mass advertising aren’t as effective in B2B marketing, so it’s important to be creative and focused on your target businesses.

For B2C, however, typical branding methodologies include a more traditional approach to advertising — think broadcast commercials, celebrity endorsements, and campaigns involving print ads, online ads, and billboards.

Brand appeal is much more of a factor in B2C. People’s attentions are naturally drawn toward products they recognize, or eye-catching elements featuring user-friendly interfaces that will improve an immediate need. Market size is large and more varied, meaning a wider net must be cast in order to snag sales.

Difference Between Sales Approaches for B2B and B2C Sales

When selling B2B, your sales approach is much less personal than with B2C. Typically sales reps are dealing with entire teams deciding whether or not to use their product. The relationship is typically longer-term, so potential buyers will be more interested in what the product can do for them in the long run.

B2B sales cycles tend to be a long process with many stages. In part because of this, the decision-making process takes more time. B2B requires maintaining prolonged contact and guiding prospective customers through questions and concerns, as well as ensuring the prospect your product will provide them with the features they need. Customer retention is an ongoing process, so that the sales cycle never truly ends.

In B2B sales, it is important to know your product and its features very well. Jargon is essential, as is being able to converse on the customer’s own terms. B2B customers are highly interested in demos, so that they can see the product’s value for themselves.

For B2C sales, your approach should be more personal, coming from a human and emotional angle. Consumers are primarily driven by things which excite their sense of status and personal gratification, as well as offer some sort of emotional attachment. Economic considerations are also very important, as they pay for their own products.

B2C sales cycles are shorter, with fewer stages in the process. The decision to buy comes down to typically just one person, and the length of the relationship is brief.

Use of jargon is not as important in the context of B2C sales, and can in fact alienate the customer if overused. It is vital, however, to understand the product well enough to explain its use comprehensively. 

B2C salespeople should engage potential consumers with a simple, friendly, and empathetic approach that doesn’t make the customer feel talked down to.

Differences Between Pricing of B2B and B2C

Pricing for B2B tends to be complex and costly, which may require a bit more finesse when discussing price points, as most teams are functioning on a fairly tight budget. 

They want to land the best bang for their buck, and will often be considering competitors at the same time as considering your product. This is why becoming an expert in your competitors’ products and knowing how to overcome price objections are essential skills.

Also, it’s important to identify the true decision-makers in any business transaction and focus on convincing those individuals of your product’s value. When it comes to B2C, however, pricing should align with the consumer’s individual capacity. Pricing also tends to be less complex than when dealing with B2B. The consumer wants a good deal that leaves them feeling both satisfied with their purchase, and satisfied with its affordability. Nothing excites a customer more than feeling like they got a steal. The sales team should be working toward maximizing the value of each transaction.

Sales Strategies That Work for Both B2B and B2C

At the end of the day, closing the sale is the goal. 

Knowing commonalities between selling B2B and selling B2C is essential to focus your process. 

The sales process must always center around the customer and their experience. It’s important to provide a consistent service that garners trust and loyalty. Authenticity and credibility not only lead to a satisfied customer base, but can help to establish a dependable line of profit for years to come.

Today’s buyers are more knowledgeable and savvy than ever before, with a keener understanding of what they want out of a product, and how it should be sold to them. With the increasing importance of social media and review sites, prospects often know much of a salesperson’s brand and product before their first conversation. By respecting your prospects’ time, needs, and intelligence, you’ll have an easier time making the sale.

Understanding B2B vs B2C

When the differences between B2B vs B2C are crystal clear for sales reps, they can focus on the best sales strategy for whichever type of sale they’re making.

Decide upon a strategy that will best serve your goals. By employing the right techniques, your messaging will be consistent and clear, and will add to your credibility when dealing with customers.

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