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What is B2B Sales?

By Chris Davis

Business to business sales is those which involve the selling of products or services from one business to another.

The purpose of a business of this form is to sell to businesses that then sell directly to the consumer.

A good example of this is food manufacturers who create their products to then sell to other businesses like supermarket chains.

 

B2B vs. B2C: What are the differences?

Business to business and business to consumer sales are very different things.

Business to business sales focuses solely on delivering products and services from one business to another.

Whereas business to consumer sales are those which sell directly to consumers.

Business to business products and services usually involve the sales of items that are useful to other businesses.

For example, high volumes of trade products or items that can be sold on from a business to a consumer, such as food or clothing.

There are hundreds of examples of business to business companies, and they can be both online or offline.

Examples include automotive traders, clothing wholesalers, food manufacturers, and marketing agencies.

For each B2B, the direct consumer is not involved in the process, however, B2B companies sometimes do choose to sell directly to consumers.

So what are some of the main differences between both B2B and B2C companies?

 

Target audiences

Since business to business and business to consumer companies purposes are different, so too are their target audiences.

B2C companies focus on selling their products or services directly to the consumer.

That is the individuals that are going to use their services personally.

B2C target audiences are generally larger in size because there are more consumers than there are specific businesses, whereas B2B companies are those which sell only to other businesses and generally speaking have a smaller pool of clients.

 

High-stake investments

B2B sales transactions are often larger than B2C.

For example, a coffee shop would buy large amounts of coffee from its supplier, whereas the coffee shop’s B2C customers would only need to buy one or two cups from the coffee shop.

The transactions are therefore more costly and often involve higher risk than B2C transactions because of the purchase of high volumes of products.

 

The sales process is longer

With business to business deals, the process is usually lengthier than it is with a B2C purchase as it often needs to be approved by several people within the chain of a business before a deal is agreed.

In B2B sales, contracts are generally long term and can last for several years which is why it is important for clients to make lengthier, informed decisions.

The decision process is also lengthier because the items purchased are higher in volume than they are with a B2C sale.

Most B2B sales require relationship building, proposals, and plans before the buyer commits to a sale.

They also require a level of educating, informing, and expertise as buyers are seeking professionalism and information on the return on investment on what they are purchasing.

On the other hand, B2C sales are short term, quick deals.

There are fewer people involved in the sales cycle in a B2C and the motivation for purchases include affordability, personal gain, and emotions.

When you think about anything you might have bought personally from a retailer, you can probably conclude the time it took you to think and make a decision process was between a few minutes and a few hours, depending on the item you were purchasing.

If it was a high-decision making item like a laptop or a phone, it might have taken you a while longer to research it, but making a purchase is still relatively short.

When you compare this to B2B sales, the purchase cycle is a lot longer, mainly because the items or services purchased are a lot more expensive in value and generally higher in volume.

For example, a clothing retailer would purchase their items from a manufacturer in large bulks before selling to the consumers in-store.

 

The number of people involved in the sales process

As we have talked about above, high stake business deals take longer than B2C purchases because they involve more money and greater volume products.

In a typical business, there are usually a few decision-makers who will need to approve a purchase before it is complete, and so the B2B process can take longer because it requires more than one person to make the decision.

This is why B2B sales require great sales pitches that the stakeholders in a business cannot refuse.

Compare this to the B2C buying process, where just one or two people are making a purchase decision and it is easier to understand why B2C sales are more fast-paced.

 

Relationship building

While building customer relationships is part of the sales funnels in both types of companies, business to business sales focuses more on building good client relationships before a sale.

Due to the high-decision making process, it can take weeks or months for a business to decide on a purchase.

Building up a good client-business relationship is important for B2B’s in establishing a solid foundation at the beginning of the sales cycle.

Relationships between B2Bs and their clients can last a lot longer too, with some sales deals becoming long-term and spanning over a number of years.

B2C customers, on the other hand, aren’t always looking to build a relationship with the brands that they purchase from.

Although in some industries a good relationship plays a part in the sales process (such as realtors selling houses), often a deep relationship with a brand isn’t necessary to make a purchase, particularly in the case of low-cost items.

This isn’t to say that brand loyalty and brand-customer relationships cannot be built in B2Cs.

Brand to customer relationships certainly can play a part in the sales process within B2Cs, increasingly so now that brands have social media platforms to interact with their customers directly.

 

Marketing approaches

As each sector has different target audiences, their marketing practices will vary according to the type of customer or client they are selling to.

With B2C companies, their marketing and advertising are more tailored towards an emotion-based approach.

Consumers often make purchases from B2Cs based on emotions.

When you think about some of the purchases you might have made in the past for yourself, you’ll probably find that some, or perhaps even most of them are emotion-driven.

Whether you’ve been impressed with a company’s stance on the environment and usage of sustainable materials or have loved the aesthetic of a brand’s products, most of us can admit that emotion has played a part in a purchase.

If you’re targeting a business that sells to other businesses, they’re not going to be seeking your products for themselves, but rather are thinking about how your products and services can benefit their customers, and what they can gain from the purchase as a business return on investment (ROI).

A B2B’s marketing approach would be more centered towards providing the audience with information, as opposed to emotion-based entertainment.

 

Are there any similarities?

Business to business and business to consumer companies both require a clear understanding of their target customer and a tailored sales approach according to their industry.

Customers are, of course, both central to all businesses regardless of whether the sales process takes a short or long period.

During the sales process, customer service is an important aspect of securing a sale in both sectors.

In B2B, the customer service approach might be more detailed; including pitches tailored to a potential client or lead.

In B2C, it might be as simple as delivering great service in a retail shop or answering customer emails as soon as possible.

Both sectors also have the same overall goals of gaining good customer to business relationships and building overall brand loyalty.

Brand loyalty from return customers is a powerful way to grow a business, which is why in both B2B and B2C sectors engaging with customers through marketing techniques is so important, alongside a great customer service strategy.

 

Steps to B2B success

Build a great leads generation strategy

Business to business is all about nurturing quality leads.

What do we mean by this?

Well, leads are contacts that a business finds that has the potential to turn into a customer.

In a b2b setting, a lead is a crucial component of the sales cycle.

Each business’ leads generation process is different depending on their industry, but generally leads can be generated through both online and offline sales and marketing techniques.

Perhaps a potential lead has signed up to your email marketing list to receive updates about the latest B2B offers or packages, or they might have been directly contacted by a member of your sales team and it has been noted that they may be interested in doing business.

Whichever technique a business chooses to use for their leads generation, it should be informative and professional.

Email marketing, for example, should both inform and entice potential leads to want to get in contact with your business.

Whether that’s through creating an offer they can’t pass up on or demonstrating to your leads how other clients have benefited from your service.

 

Build relationships with clients

Converting a lead to a sale is often a lengthy process with B2B sales because the decision-making process is much higher stake than it is in B2C deals.

In business to business, building valuable relationships with leads is a great way to create trust, as well as proving to potential customers that you have extensive product or service knowledge and that you can provide them with something that will give them a great return on investment.

Remember, B2B sales are all about logical and business-driven decisions.

Whether their business is going to benefit from the sale and if they will make money from selling it to consumers.

Sales to other businesses can be lengthy as we have spoken about, so ensuring that you are providing them with a detailed pitch and a trustworthy relationship can help secure a deal that lasts.

 

Use an informative approach

Businesses making purchases from other businesses want to know that their investment is worthwhile.

Not every client will be aware of your business and how you can help provide them with a return on investment and often high-stake, high-price purchases will need to satisfy several decision-makers in their business.

Providing the client with as much technical and specific information as possible is often necessary, even if they are already knowledgeable in your industry.

 

A great sales team

As we’ve talked about, B2B sales take time and require good business-customer relationship building skills.

A great sales team is essential to building quality leads and nurturing them into long term customers.

 

A well-defined marketing strategy

A great marketing strategy is essential to success in B2B.

There are many different ways a B2B can connect with audiences through their marketing including:

  • A user-friendly website that makes ordering online or viewing orders easy
  • SEO and PPC strategies that drive website traffic
  • Engaging social media strategies and ads that spark interest
  • An email marketing strategy that encourages actions

Remember that all marketing goals should be SMART–Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

While there are many differences between B2B and B2C businesses, their overall goals are the same.

Every successful business has a great marketing strategy to back it up.

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Tags: B2B, sales, business