Selling to businesses and to consumers have their differences and similarities, but how and why do they differ? What drives the two distinct market types? What makes business buyers and private consumers different? Join us as we compare and contrast these two types of company.
Selling to businesses can be a very different ball-game to selling to individuals. They’re influenced by completely different factors, and on the whole have different needs to meet.
Sure, they both need to find where their audiences are, run marketing campaigns, stay on their prospects’ radar, and measure their marketing efforts; but the ways these two distinct markets behave can be very different indeed. So, let’s explore these differences!
But before we do, we have to define the terms B2B & B2C…
What Does B2B Mean?
B2B is short for “business-to-business”. It refers to companies, markets, products, and services that sell/are sold to other businesses. FIVE CRM is an example of a B2B company because companies need customer relationship management software, but individuals generally don’t. Some other examples of B2B companies include marketing agencies, wholesale vendors, and app developers.
What Does B2C Mean?
B2C is short for “business-to-consumer”, which refers to companies, markets, products, and services that are concerned with selling to private consumers. Fast food restaurants, e-commerce retailers, and hairdressers are some examples of B2C organisations.
Now we’re all on the same page, let’s get on to the differences.
B2C is Quite Impersonal, B2B is Very Interpersonal
When you think of large companies who sell to consumers (like Nike or Starbucks), their advertising relies heavily on maintaining brand awareness through mass media campaigns, on TV and billboards for example. However, B2B companies are unlikely to reach other businesses well this way. Maintaining brand awareness in a B2B often requires networking, speaking to the right people within the right businesses, and building a rapport with them.
B2Bs can still use mass-communication marketing tools like social media and email marketing, but B2Bs rely heavily on establishing and growing professional relationships, building familiarity and brand presence over time. B2Bs usually provide specific products and services to niche markets and therefore have fewer prospects; whereas B2C markets tend to comprise vast numbers of prospective customers and rely on mass brand awareness to keep people coming back.
The B2C Sales Process Often is Quicker and Simpler than B2B
Depending on the product or service in question, the time from interest to purchase is generally shorter for B2C sales, and the average purchase spend is generally lower. B2C marketing can be targeted to an extent, but it’s generally more impersonal, and based around the concept of multiple, smaller-ticket, somewhat unrelated purchases, with decision making potentially driven by impulse and emotion.
However, because B2Bs generally have a smaller market and rely on relationship building, the time between initial interest and final purchase is generally a lot longer, but the average spend tends to be a lot higher than B2C. This process may include responding to queries, quoting, a more involved decision-making process, and a more consultative approach to selling (which we’ll talk more about later); all of which take more time than a simple consumer transaction.
B2B Purchases are Always Rational
Consumer purchases can be total impulse buys or be driven purely by wants and feelings. Though parts of consumer buying behaviour can be rational (“do I need this?”, “can I afford it?”), consumers can more easily be swayed by emotion and gut feeling. Consumers are also very product-driven; once they’ve made a decision to buy something, they’ll go and buy it – simple as that.
However, B2B companies generally have to be more strategic about making purchases. They’re not driven at all by how a purchase will make them feel, just how it’s going to affect their financials, personnel, and productivity. Making the wrong choice and buying the wrong thing can negatively impact business – not to mention people’s livelihoods and careers – so businesses have to be very exacting and may need more questions answering over time. And on that note…
B2B Relies More on Consultative Selling and Negotiation
Consumer advertising usually revolves around brand identity and cementing the company’s presence in the minds of individual consumers. B2C consumers are very value driven and are likely to shop around if they’re unhappy.
However, purchase decision-making for a business may involve multiple people, in different departments, and at differing levels of seniority. When selling to businesses, salespeople need to fall into a more consultative, advisory role to qualify whether the purchase is right for the prospect, advise the prospect about how their company can help, and allay any concerns they may have about what’s being sold. B2B customers still want a good deal but are more likely to negotiate and consider different levels of service rather than looking elsewhere.
B2C Purchases Generally Present Lower Risk
B2B purchases are generally higher ticket sales with fewer clients making up the seller business’s revenue streams. Therefore, if a B2B company loses a client, that client may be responsible for a large chunk of the seller’s revenue – that’s money that now has to be found elsewhere. However, because B2Bs usually offer more niche services and are more relationship focused, there are fewer options for clients to go elsewhere and less impetus for them to shop around as readily like consumers do. Client retention is paramount for B2B companies, so putting things right for an unsatisfied client is essential wherever possible.
However, if a B2C company loses a single customer, their one-to-many approach means that they’ll always have someone else coming through the door. This and the lower ticket price of average consumer purchases means that the loss of one customer is rarely an emergency situation to a B2C business. But by the same token, consumers have more options to shop around, and may not stay loyal to a brand who has wronged them.
B2C Sales Can be More Driven by Trends
Trends in markets and technology fluctuate for both businesses and consumers, but business needs tend to be more static and unchanging, whereas consumers can be driven far more by fashions and fads.
Consider a business who is looking to purchase construction machinery; and compare that with a consumer who always likes to have the latest new trainers on the market. Yes, the drives behind those purchases are totally different, but the consumer is likely to be more driven by specific products, price comparisons, retailer offers, and styles that come and go; whereas the company buying machinery may not be so driven by specific makes or models, there aren’t any fashions to chase, and they’re more likely to look for a trusted supplier they can work with over a long term basis.
We hope these definitions have been useful; if you’re having trouble keeping tabs on your prospects and sales journey, why not give FIVE CRM a try? Manage prospect relationships, automate marketing functions, handle outbound calling, and run thorough reports with our customisable, modular suite of software. Claim your free trial today!