B2B Selling vs B2C Selling: What’s The Difference?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - B2B Selling

A widespread misunderstanding is that if one has certain skills and a good bit of experience, it is possible to move between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) sales with relative ease. However, selling to retail and corporate markets requires completely different approaches and skillsets. Although different approaches are required, B2C and B2B sales have some key requirements that they share.

A Precise Strategy

Lead generation in B2B sales could take a longer period of time as well as involve more nurturing however without a clear strategy and established tactics, both approaches risk failure and losing customers.

Alignment With Marketing

If online and offline marketing messages don’t align well with sales communications, potential customers will shy away from doing business with the company.

Excellent Customer Service

Once a sale is made, the ability that a customer has to reach the support team and get useful service has everything to do with retention and churn rate. This is true of both B2C and B2B sales.

B2B Selling

B2B is shorthand for “business to business”. It refers to sales which are made to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. B2B sales frequently take the form of one business selling supplies or components to another. For example, a tyre manufacturer may sell merchandise to a car manufacturer. Another example would be wholesalers who sell their products to retailers. These shops then turn around and sell them to consumers. Supermarkets are a classic example of this activity. They purchase food from wholesalers and then sell it at a slightly higher price to individual consumers.

B2B sales can also include services. Attorneys who take cases for business clients, accounting firms that help companies do their taxes, and technical consultants who set up networks and email accounts are all examples of B2B service providers.

B2B commerce can be split into some specific categories. These include:

  • Direct sellers – such as Amazon or takealot.
  • Online Intermediaries – such as Amazon.com which can sell products from a number of different vendors. They act as an intermediary and are able to broker deals between two parties.
  • Community-based models – which represent particular interest groups such as a bulletin board for gardeners. These are useful to advertisers as they can be used to market to specific segments.
  • Advertising-based models – which are websites designed to generate high traffic to expose users to ads.

B2C Selling

Business-to-consumer (B2C) sales tend to be based on a recognised urgent need or want. Customers’ purchases are emotional and are generally point-of-sale purchases where no contact has been made with the sales professional previously. This means that marketing and branding can sometimes play a much larger part in swaying a customer’s buying decision at the point of purchase.

B2C sales relate to the end-consumer so the decision often lies with one person. This can vary if one is purchasing a car, for instance, which can be a family choice as the outlay can be quite large. B2B sales will typically involve a lengthier sales cycle with a higher price point as well as a more complex network of relationships to establish and sell into.

Here are the skills that B2C sales staff need:

  • Experience – In B2C one needs far less experience in order to be successful as opposed to in B2B. However, never ignore learning something new and stretching your personal development muscles. Remaining up to date with industry trends and the needs of prospects and customers will set you apart from the others.
  • Agility – The world of B2C has a tendency to be fast paced and unpredictable. Being agile will help one stay ahead. Create a mindset which is ready and tolerant of change. This will put you in a much better frame of mind as opposed to getting stressed out when your meticulously planned-out day doesn’t materialise.
  • Rapport – The B2C sale is a straightforward sell as opposed to the B2B one as there are less people engaged in the decision-making process. There is usually only one person to convince rather than a committee full of decision makers. This means there is only one shot to build rapport. Most people are short on time and can be easily distracted so present a solution and show benefits quickly.
  • Communication – B2C communication hinges on the brand’s value proposition. This could be in order to save money, offer the most comprehensive range of products or deliver great workmanship. Whatever it is, be clear about the value the brand can bring to the prospective customer. Make use of simple, jargon-free language which is accessible and understood by all.

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DSM Digital School of Marketing - Sales management