A common misconception is that if you have certain skills and experience, you can transition from business-to-consumer (B2C) to business-to-business (B2B) sales with relative ease. However, selling to the retail and corporate markets requires completely different approaches and skills.
Many organizations operate in a B2C structure, which means that they create a product and sell it to customers. For example, if you have a cornfield, you can set up a chest at a farmer’s market where people can buy your products in small quantities.
In a B2B sales model, products and services are sold mainly to other companies. You can partner with a manufacturing company that converts your grains into sugar. This equates too much higher sales volumes, but you also need to bid consistently and at negotiated prices.
Of course, you can’t use the same tactic of selling grain in a market to get producers to buy from you. This is not to say that professional B2B salespeople cannot do B2C or vice versa, but there are some important differences between them. Using B2C strategies in a B2B environment is not only inefficient but is also a waste of time and money.
B2C and B2B sales differ in several ways, for example:
- The basis for decision making
Retail sales are often emotional and based on an immediate perceived need. When you sell products in a market, your customers decide to buy them on the spot. They probably won’t call you in a month to request a demo. Meanwhile, the sale of the business is planned, evaluated, and long-term.
- Price point
B2C sales are priced lower on average and are paid less often over time. However, there is a crossroads at which B2B sales include products such as office supplies. Commercial services are generally based on long-term rental contracts. Also, in the long run, “expensive” B2C items, such as houses and cars, are paid for.
- Relationship duration
Purchases at the point of sale are usually made without prior contact and an ongoing relationship between the seller and the customer. This is rarely the case with B2B sales, where the entire sales process is often based on building relationships and trust.
- Sales experience
B2B sales professionals need to know how to work with senior decision-makers and learn internally about their products. Although there are many B2C suppliers with years of experience, the learning (and success) curve is significantly less than in B2B. It can take a long time to develop an effective B2B sales strategy, as well as the right personality to make it work.
Although different approaches are required, B2C and B2B sales have some important requirements in common.
- A well-defined strategy
Lead generation in B2B sales can take longer and bring more incentives, but without a clear strategy and established tactics, both the risk of error and the loss of customers come close.
- Alignment with marketing
If you’re online and offline marketing messages don’t go well with your sales communications, potential customers will ignore them.
- Excellent customer service
After a sale is made, the customer can contact their support team and obtain useful services, retention and revenue. This applies to B2C and B2B sales.
For salespeople, the transition from B2C sales to B2B sales (or vice versa) can be difficult.
B2C sellers are used to a relatively short buying cycle and a much closer connection to marketing and e-commerce. When they move into the B2B world, most B2C salespeople tend to be frustrated by the long-term strategy and tremendous effort required to build relationships.
On the other hand, the transition from B2B to a retail environment can be very intense for the average B2B salesperson, with little predictability or planning to which they are accustomed.
Either way, it’s important to consider the experience of your salespeople when building an effective sales team. Is it right for your products, services, and markets? Are they moving from a retail market to a business market or vice versa?
As these transitions unfold, the last thing you want is an inefficient training and integration program that is not only wasteful but also frustrating your new job, especially if it lags due to tactics that do not work. In these cases, many businesses believe that important training is needed to achieve a high level of sales. Sales consulting can help create a strategic sales and training plan.
Changes in technology and customer behavior, among other things, are blurring the boundary between B2C and B2B sales. With information on almost all products available on the Internet, the premium for in-depth product knowledge seems to have declined somewhat. In many cases, it seems more valuable to save time by speeding up the purchase decision process than to have a complete demonstration of something the buyer already knows. Changing business models and diversification are also transforming pure B2C companies into B2B companies and vice versa.
Although there are differences in execution between B2B and B2C sales, both are undergoing similar and significant changes as a result of the development of customer behavior. With a rapid digital transformation, ensuring that we deliver an excellent customer experience, both B2B and B2C, is the key to success.