B2B and B2C Sales – What is the Difference?

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Working in business, you’ll hear a lot of terms thrown around that don’t make a whole lot of sense  on the surface. B2B and B2C are just a couple of those terms that describe certain sales and marketing roles. While they might sound like high-level industry jargon, it’s extremely important to know the difference between the two and which one you would prefer to be part of.

Working in sales, our primary job is to sell to people. However, not all clients and customers are the same. Some are individual end-users, while others are mega corporations. The key to success in determining your sales strategies is dependent on knowing the differences between the two and how you can effectively maximize your potential revenue.

B2B

B2B is just a shorthand way to describe Business to Business transactions. Let’s say that you are a sales executive for an advertising firm. Your job would be to essentially sell your services to other companies. You would not be focusing on the individual end consumer, but rather, the big corporations who require substantial product/service advertising.  All sorts of businesses fall in to this category. Any company that sells directly to a business is engaged in B2B sales & marketing.

B2C

Just like B2B, B2C is a shorthand way to express Business to Consumer transactions. If you are a sales executive who sells security systems door-to-door, you are engaging in B2C sales and marketing. Any company who deals with the end-user of the product/service would be part of this group.

The Differences

While both groups are engaged in selling a product/service, the differences between the two are dramatic.

  • B2B sales often have a much longer sales cycle. A sale could take anywhere from a few weeks to over 6 months to complete. On the other hand, a B2C transaction is much shorter, usually either immediately or within a few days.
  • B2B sales requires more technical knowledge of the product/service with almost no room for emotional thinking, while B2C sales require more emotional thinking rather than logical knowledge. That’s not to say the two are mutually exclusive, but generally speaking, B2B sales requires statistics and data, while B2C sales require more of a “this feels right for you” element.
  • You often have many layers of people to sell to in a B2B transaction. Purchasing agents, managers, directors, and accountants are just a few of the potential people that you’ll need to meet with to make a sale. B2C sales requires much fewer people – usually, it’s just you and the consumer. That’s one of the reasons why the cycle is so different.
  • B2B sales are often completed with contracts and agreements, while B2C sales can be one-time purchases. Again, the two are not mutually exclusive, but when you sell manufacturing rights to a company, those contacts often last years, whereas the end-user might buy your product once and never again.
  • With B2B sales, you are often as only as good as your price point. If a competitor comes in with a lower price, the stakeholders will push for a switch. With B2C sales, your customer service and quality can create a sense of brand loyalty, even if someone comes around with a lower prices product.
  • B2B sales typically are much larger but less frequent, whereas B2C sales are much smaller but happen much more often.

Tips and Strategies 

For B2B sales, you are are more than a sales executive – you are a potential business partner with your clients. If a business decides to purchase from you, you are essentially part of their business model and will definitely become part of their pricing structure and how they do business with their customers. Therefore, it’s imperative to act as such. You have to drive the strategic and logical elements in this style of transaction. Charts, graphs, profitability forecasts, and potential revenue increase statements are welcomed in these types of sales presentations. Industry jargon and technical terms are also encouraged here. You’ll be meeting with layers of people who will all be part of the decision making process, so you’ll have to be good at establishing relationships with those who work inside the company. The real key in B2B sales is profit-driven thinking and value to the prospective buyer.

B2C sales is quite the opposite. Rather than a business partner, you are acting as the brand ambassador to whoever you are selling to. Your actions and your behavior will be, in their eyes, a reflection on your entire company. This is where being friendly, being warm, and being entertaining come in to play. You’ll want to dive deep in to the emotions of your buyers and establish trust if you want to make a sale. Rather than charts and graphs, B2C sales executives thrive on third party stories and real world examples. Rather than using technical terms, you’ll want to talk in easy to understand language that is geared towards positive thinking. The real key to B2C sales is to make a friend with whoever you are talking to and show them that this product is perfect for them because of emotional reasons.

You can sum up the differences as such:

Businesses don’t buy for emotional reasons – they buy for logical ones.

People don’t buy for logical reasons – they buy for emotional ones.

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Author: Jason Karaman

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