One of the most important aspects of a sales manager role is to define an on-target sales strategy. Your B2B/B2C strategy is a make or break. You may have the best talkers, presenters and deal makers in your team. It’s going to be a long and difficult sales cycle if you have a mismatched strategy.
To get to the right strategy, your first step is to distinguish between B2B and B2C. The sales strategies that you employ are quite different, depending on the target audience.
Here are 6 key differences between B2B and B2C Sales Strategies.
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #1: Lead Pool
The lead pool size is a major differentiator between B2B and B2C sales strategies. With B2C, you are most likely targeting millions of people who need the product your company is selling. For example, let’s assume you’re selling cornflakes. To zoom in on your target audience, just count the number of people who have breakfast every day. In case you want to even target a broader market, your marketing team could design a campaign that sells cornflakes as snack and dinner alternatives.
For B2B, on the other hand, the lead pool size shrinks by the millions and is more defined by the specific requirements of each company. Let’s assume that your company is selling cornflakes-making machines. This will limit your lead pool to companies that might need these machines, such as Trader Joe’s, Kellogg’s and Nestle. You don’t even have those artisan cornflake makers in your target audience unless you can convince them to turn to machines.
Given this reality, a standardized approach is not going to work. Similar companies will go after that very same small-sized lead pool. You will need to be specific while pitching your solution.
For both B2B & B2C sales teams, here’s a good quote by SEOmoz CEO and co-founder Rand Fishkin regarding the lead pool: “Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #2: Required Product Knowledge
Your sales team needs to know what they’re selling. There’s no question about this. This stands true, regardless of whether your industry is focused on B2B or B2C. As Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, says: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”
Both B2B and B2C sales teams should know product features, design details, advantages, and disadvantages. Competitor knowledge is a must too. Nowadays buyers are more sophisticated – in both B2B and B2C industries. Buyers will know already something about your product and will ask questions. Therefore, having as much knowledge as possible becomes a necessity.
The difference lies in the depth of product knowledge required. Buyers in B2B have different information requirements from B2C ones. A mother buying cornflakes will want to know calories and sugar count in the product, as well as price and taste. Your sales team can train to answer these questions relatively quickly and become experts soon.
Compare this to a B2B sales team. Your team needs to know the specifications and technical details of the product. They need to know how this fits into the system – hardware, software and human-powered – and processes of your target companies.
An effective B2B sales team needs continuous training, thorough product knowledge, and experience in product presentations and fielding questions from executive-level prospects.
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #3: Number Of Decision-Makers
In a typical B2C buying scenario, the decision maker is usually one. In our cornflake example, it is the mom, her tastes, budget and preferences that your sales team will need to consider. There might be a chance that the husband or kids might play a role – but that’s not always.
In a B2B scenario, the decision-making process is a lengthy one that involves several stakeholders. According to CEB (now Gartner) executive advisor and author Brent Adamson, the average number of B2B stakeholders is 6.8, as of 2016. This number has likely increased today.
There are several factors to explain this, such as globalization, the decentralization of decision making and solutions packages (instead of singular products). Whatever the case, your B2B sales team should employ a strategy that factors in several key decision-makers.
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #4: Expected Response
The response to sales strategies is on opposite ends when it comes to B2B and B2C efforts.
You strive for an emotional response from your B2C clients. There might be some facts in your proposal. Yet, the end goal of your marketing outreach is to gain customer loyalty. You want them to love and prefer your product, even if there are better options in the market.
With B2B clients it’s a different situation. Corporate purchases – such as cornflakes making machines in our example – are usually on the top end of the price scale. These are investments that need thorough consideration, especially when it comes to the expected costs, returns, advantages, and disadvantages of a specific option. Rarely emotions play a role in this.
B2B buyers are more likely to approach their purchasing decision with rationality.
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #5: Decision-Making Process
In the B2C scenario, the decision-making process is quick – almost impulsive. People buy out of habit or they buy in-the-moment. The decision is influenced by advertising, word-of-mouth or habits and cravings. Product awareness and presence will certainly help your product in the selling process.
In a B2B situation, however, the wooing period is longer. There are several people making the decision, and you need to convince each one of them. You will go through a lot of phone calls, meetings and demos if you’re keen on closing the deal. And, this can take months.
B2B And B2C Sales Strategies Differences #6: Length of the Business Relationship
B2C business relationships normally are considered as one-off transactions. The focus is right there at the point of purchase. Preferences and loyalties can change and do change in such environment. The cornflake-buying mom today may decide next week on another brand; or, she may choose to switch to eggs and toasts for breakfast.
With B2B prospects it’s different. The whole purchasing process is an investment for both sides. Your sales team puts in months of their time and effort attending to the requirements of the prospect. You nurture your lead and provide necessary information and content. Follow-ups, meetings, and presentations to all stakeholders are a reality that happens over a long period of time. Your buyers put in their time and effort too to find the best-fit solution for their needs.
The expectation of this mutual investment is that it’s a long-term relationship. It is never a one-off transaction because there’s going to be a consistent need for maintenance, support, and upgrades. The stakeholder’s purchasing decision will take a long time because it’s a crucial one for their business. Choosing a business partner is not an impulsive decision.
What’s your experience with B2B and B2C sales strategies? Do you experience differences in the sales process? If so, which ones? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.