Thursday, April 4, 2013

The difference between B2B and B2C

B2C (business-to-consumer) companies are generally the first to embrace new practices on the web.  One of these "new" practices is having a friendly, engaging website that focuses on the customer and winning their business.  In the B2B (business-to-business) world, there is still a lot of skepticism that what works for consumer products won't work for them.

There are some key differences between B2B and B2C sales: 

  • Trust / Risk - If I hire the wrong developer to build my personal website, I'll regret the decision and pay for it in time, money, and stress.  If I hire the wrong developer to build our company's website, I could pay for it with my job.
  • Number of people involved in the decision - When selling something to another business, you seldom have just 1 person involved in the purchase decision.  This is because the people who control the budgets aren't generally the (only) people who will get their hands dirty doing the work.
  • Speed of sale - The higher risk and extra people dramatically reduce the speed of B2B sales.  Some industries take months to close a single sale.

Even with all the above differences, B2B sales are remarkably similar to B2C sales.  At the end of the day you are still selling to a person/people.  The psychological aspects of disclosing information, enjoying an experience, and building a relationship are all the same.

Traditionally, B2C companies made shotgun sales.  They'd shoot their propaganda into a flock of birds and hope to knock a few down.  B2B companies have always had/needed a longer runway.  They spend more time getting to know the customer and building trust before they make the sale.  For a B2B company, a successful sale and post sale relationship magnifies the trust between the client and the company.  This is why repeat business is so easy and fruitful for B2B companies.

The "new" practice on the web of having a friendly, engaging website is not a "new" concept, it is the digital form of the B2B sales funnel.  B2C companies have realized that if they can create that same pre-sale relationship, they can create very fruitful life-long customers.

So, if the "new" digital revolution is actually B2C taking a page from the B2B playbook, why are B2Bs so reluctant to jump in?

Does your website help build a relationship with your clients?