B2B vs. B2C Marketing
With B2C marketing, businesses sell products and services to individual customers. These are the everyday things that we all buy, ranging from cars to refrigerators to big-screen TVs. But with B2B marketing, businesses sell products and services to other businesses — things like software, heavy equipment, computer and telecommunication systems, and consulting services.
Companies typically use very different strategies when marketing and selling things to B2B consumers than B2C consumers. This is because B2B consumers are usually purchasing items for use by the business they work for, not themselves. And they’re not spending their own money — they’re spending their employer’s money.
Below are seven things to keep in mind about B2B consumers as you build your B2B marketing strategies.
1) They Want To Be Listened To
B2B businesses tend to do a bad job of listening to what their customers want. In an article published on Forbes.com, customer experience futurist Blake Morgan cites research from Forrester noting that six out of 10 B2B buyers would rather research products and services online than talk to a sales rep. “This is because they feel reps push their own sales agendas instead of actually listening to the buyer and finding a solution that solves their unique problem,” said Morgan.
Therefore, you should train your B2B sales reps to spend at least as much time listening as they do talking. Before launching into a pitch about how great your company or your products are, sales reps should first ask questions to determine a B2B consumer’s needs. Then they can present products and services that meet these needs.
2) They Are Often Nervous About Making Purchases
B2B purchases are often complex and expensive, which can lead to anxiety and even buyer’s remorse on the part of B2B buyers. If the purchase doesn’t work out for some reason, the buyer could lose respect among peers, professional credibility and even his or her job in an extreme situation.
To help relieve buyers’ anxiety, your B2B sales reps should strive to instill confidence in buyers to assure them they’re making a wise purchase that will benefit their company. “Be more proactive instead of simply pushing a one-size-fits-all sales agenda and work to fill an advisory role so buyers know they can trust your company to meet their functional and emotional needs,” said Morgan.
3) They Want To Be Educated
The complexity involved in many B2B purchases often leads to a need for education on the part of buyers. One of the best ways to educate B2B buyers about complex purchases is to create a content marketing program.
For example, you could start an e-newsletter that contains articles explaining how your products and services can help B2B consumers meet specific challenges and alleviate pain points. In addition, you could produce whitepapers and host webinars that delve into certain issues in more depth. These are among the most popular B2B education tools used by businesses across a wide range of industries.
4) They Value ROI
Unlike most B2C customers, B2B consumers tend to be driven less by emotion than by hard data — especially return on investment, or ROI. The main concern of most B2B buyers is whether their company will realize a financial return on the money they spend.
In an article comparing B2B vs. B2C marketing published on Hubspot, B2B marketing expert Jacqueline Zenn put it this way: “B2B audiences are seeking efficiency and expertise, while the consumer audience is more likely to be seeking deals and entertainment. Accordingly, the B2B purchase process tends to be driven more by logic and financial incentive. In other words, what’s the product’s ROI?”
Your salespeople should be prepared to demonstrate not only the features and benefits of your products and services, but also their financial impact on a business’ bottom line. If you can demonstrate a positive ROI, this can help soothe the anxiety and nervousness many B2B buyers feel when making purchases.
5) They May Need A Lengthy Buying Process And Long Buying Cycle
In a B2B sales environment, the buyer you’re dealing with might be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of who makes the final purchase decision. This can lead to a long and cumbersome approval process and a buying cycle than can stretch for months or longer.
Your B2B sales reps need to be aware of who else in the organization will be involved in the purchase decision so they can tailor their sales presentation to different audiences. They should also be patient as all the different stakeholders weigh in with their opinions before a final purchase decision is made.
6) They Are Often Comfortable Making Long-Term Commitments
Many B2B products and services are bought with a long-term timeframe in mind, such as network consulting and software as a service (SaaS). Your patience may be rewarded with a long-term contract that can result in new revenue streams lasting for months or even years.
7) They Want To Establish Relationships
Given the long-term nature of many B2B purchases, buyers usually want to build strong relationships with companies they do business with. Therefore, most B2B salespeople need to possess strong inter-personal skills as well as high levels of product knowledge and strong sales abilities.
A B2B sale usually shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off, but rather as an opportunity to meet a business’ needs for many years to come. Therefore, your business should take a longer-term view of clients and client relationships.
For example, it might make sense to sacrifice a little bit in the short term to reap long-term benefits, like by offering a discount in exchange for a B2B consumer signing a long-term contract. This can go a long way toward building and strengthening B2B client relationships.
Understanding your B2B customers is perhaps the most important step in building a coherent marketing strategy. If you can’t accurately predict how your target audience will react to a specific marketing tactic, then you run the risk of creating a marketing strategy that will fall flat with your key audience. Keeping these points in mind as you build your B2B marketing strategies can help you break through some of the barriers many businesses face by not understanding their B2B consumers.
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