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Business to Business vs. Business to Consumer Sales

Updated on December 6, 2015

Suppose you are a fisherman. You go out on the water everyday fishing for the best catches in the ocean. Tuna, Shellfish, Shrimp...whatever! What do you do with you product once all is said and done? Well, you have 2 choices. Set up shop and sell lots of little batches to a group of ever changing consumers on short term basis where the prices will go up and down, or gather your nets and sell to large companies and/or fish markets. In this case you are able to sell larger batches with a consistent more reliable consumer. But you have to keep in mind the fact that you always have to have a large, consistent, readily available supply at a fixed cost, as well as guaranteed deliver-ability at specific times to specific places. There's benefits of both, but what really are the core differences and similarities and how can you succeed in one or the other or both?

B2C Buyers
B2B Buyers
Make buying decisions for individuals or households.
Make buying decisions for companies that serve other companies or many consumers.
Purchase size is small.
Purchase size can be in millions or even billions!
One buyer, sometimes includes influencers or other users.
Many people or department involved in decision making.
300 million people in the US, 100 million households.
500,000 businesses in the U.S.
Short lived decision making.
Longer drawn out decision making.

B2B

B2B, or "Business to Business", where you are the business trying to sell product or services to another business isn't as hard as it sounds! In fact, if you're good with people and like having a large network of connections, this might be a great industry for you. Some key points to remember in B2B sales are:

  • Be prepared to invest a lot of your time building relationships with your customers. In B2B the consumer needs time to make a decision whether they are going to go with you or another supplier or whether they even need you at all. Regardless, you will spend a lot of time with these individuals before and after the sale. The prospect needs to be sure you are the right supplier for their needs because they cannot afford to continuously switch suppliers. They are in it for the long haul!
  • Researching is important. Learn about the company before throwing your proposition out there. Have conversations! Learn about the person you are speaking with. If the client mentions a wedding they are attending, next time you speak with them ask how the wedding was. They will say, "Wow they remembered that?" Put it on your calendar if you must!
  • The hardest part is finding the right person to speak to! These big corporate companies have many different decision makers for many different things. You must be able to have patience in finding the right individual and getting your foot far enough in the door to speak with them! But once you have them on the phone, don't blow it! It's either sink or swim from there! If you have to, offer to take them to lunch to discuss it!
  • Professionalism is important. In some cases you may have to formally present your case to the consumer. Sometimes running your mouth just isn't enough. You are going to need literature about your company, what you do, and how you can benefit there company. Just remember "Who, What, How". Make sure you follow up your phone call with brochures containing details either via e-mail or fax.
  • Persistence - Don't give up! Don't take no for an answer. If they say no the first time, try again in a couple days. Send e-mails to follow up. Leave them a voicemail just saying "HI! I hope you are doing well today! Give me a call when you can!" You may have to pursue a prospect for months before they actually say yes! Sometimes the prospect will say yes just because of your persistence! Trust me, it's appreciated in the sales industry.

B2C

B2C may be a bit easier than B2B, however you must deal with a larger group of smaller individual prospects. You must be able to supply for the demands of everyone. Keep these points in mind when prospecting via B2C:

  • Capture your prospects attention for immediate need as B2C has a shorter decision making process. "In-the-moment" marketing is extremely important! You have to be able to catch your consumers attention right then and there in a short period of time or they will move on to the next.
  • You may have to be able to establish an emotional connection on cue with the person in front of you right then and there. This is the person, this person right in front of you, whom you must convince to buy your product or service.
  • Shorter relationship. Your consumers in B2C are, again, "in-the-moment" purchasers. You have a few moments to learn about them, speak with them, and ask for the sale. Not only do they have the potential to move on to the next, but spending too much time with one individual in B2C sales might be a waste of your time! If you spend 45 minutes speaking with and trying to convince 1 consumer to buy your product when you're sure they will ultimately say "no", you are taking time away from the percentage of prospects who will ultimately say "yes"! Pick and choose who you spend your time with. Use your instincts. You aren't going to win every sale, so choose wisely and know when to call it quits and move on to the next prospect.

POLL

Which sales prospect do you enjoy most?

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In conclusion...

You can be successful in either B2B or B2C. Some people are well rounded in both. It may be harder to transition from B2C to B2B than it is to transition from B2B to B2C. Either way you must have the personality! In sales, you either have it or you don't! At the end of the day it's not B2B and it's not B2C...it's Human to Human. Patience is key in both worlds! B2B requires patience in a long term aspect of the sale. You may only be building a relationship with 5 large companies at a time, but the more time you invest the better opportunity you have a hooking them and the benefits are huge! B2C requires patience in the sense of actually making a quick sale. You may speak to 40 different people in one day and only 20 of them buy your product. Don't become frustrated either way. You must develop your own strategy. Stay unique. Give the prospect something different to listen to. As I said before, in this business once you have the attention of the prospect, it's either sink or swim. Personally speaking, I don't want to drown!

Software to keep track of your sales and marketing.

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