The Difference Between B2B Sales and B2C Sales

What sets B2B sales apart?

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B2B is shorthand for “business to business.” It refers to sales you make to other businesses rather than to individual consumers. Sales to consumers are referred to as “business to consumer” sales, or B2C.

Some Examples of B2B Sales

B2B sales often take the form of one company selling supplies or components to another. For example, a tire manufacturer might sell his merchandise to a car manufacturer.

Wholesalers often sell their products to retailers, who then turn around and sell them to consumers. Supermarkets are a classic example: They buy food from wholesalers then sell it at a slightly higher price to individuals.

Business-to-business sales can also include services. Attorneys who take cases for business clients, accountant firms that help companies do their taxes, and technical consultants who set up networks and email are all examples of B2B service providers.

B2B vs. B2C Sales 

Selling B2B is different from B2C in a number of ways. First and foremost, you'll typically be dealing with either professional buyers or high level executives when you attempt to make a B2B sale. These buyers make their livings getting the best deal possible out of salespeople and they're good at it. High level executives might include the CEOs of major corporations.

In either case, B2B sales often call for a higher level of professionalism than B2C sales.

You'll have to dress and behave more formally to succeed. B2B sales also require that you to know how to effectively deal with gatekeepers such as receptionists and assistants so you can get through to your target, the individual who ultimately has the authority to commit to the sale. 

When You're Dealing With Buyers

When you're dealing with professional buyers, it pays to keep in mind that most of them have received extensive training in how to work with—and see through—salespeople.

Selling tactics that might work well with uninitiated, individual consumers will often fail with buyers who will see you coming a mile away. Buyers also know exactly how to manipulate salespeople, and they'll often try tricks like stalling to hopefully wrangle a better price from you on the product.

When You're Dealing With Executives

Dealing with executives is a whole different ball game. C-suite decision makers can be very intimidating. They're often extremely busy people so they won't appreciate it if they feel you're wasting their time. You should be well-versed in all aspects of your product so you can promptly and easily answer any questions that are posed to you. You can't say, "Let me get back to you on that," because the executive might not take your call or open his door to you a second time. Just like that, you could lose the sale. 

You should also do your research ahead of time on the prospect. Understand what he does for the company, how he does it, and get a firm grasp on the company's products or services as well. You'll want to be completely prepared to wow executives with your knowledge of their operations during your sales presentations. 

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