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In the world of sales, it’s important to understand that the approach to business-to-business (B2B) sales is different from business-to-customer (B2C) sales. While they may share some similarities, it is essential to treat them as separate entities and tailor your strategies accordingly. One way to do this is by understanding the differences between the B2B sales funnel and the B2C sales funnel. In this article, we will explore four fundamental differences between these two sales funnels to help you shape an effective and targeted sales strategy.
B2C Sales Funnel: The Basics
The B2C sales funnel is relatively simple and streamlined. It primarily targets individual consumers. For example, if you see an advertisement on Instagram and purchase a pair of sunglasses, that transaction falls under the B2C category. While a salesperson may not be involved in facilitating the purchase, the customer still goes through a journey from awareness to action. Today’s buyers are savvy and conduct research before making a purchase, but they still require some assistance along the way.
The B2C sales funnel can be broken down into four stages:
- Awareness: The buyer searches for information and discovers the product.
- Interest: They conduct further research and learn more about the product.
- Consideration: They read reviews and compare the product to other similar options.
- Purchase: They make a decision and complete the purchase.
It is worth noting that in some cases, such as significant purchases like cars, kitchens, or houses, the sales process may involve additional stages before the final purchase is made.
B2B Sales Funnel: Understanding the Key Differences
B2B sales, on the other hand, involve one business selling to another business. B2B companies typically target and sell to a group rather than an individual consumer. As a result, the purchasing decision often involves multiple people, leading to a longer sales cycle. However, it is essential to understand that a longer sales cycle does not necessarily require additional stages in the funnel. By creating value early on and consistently providing value throughout the process, you can mitigate obstacles and shorten the sales cycle.
The B2B sales funnel typically consists of six stages:
- Awareness: The buyer searches for information and discovers the product or service.
- Interest: They conduct further research and learn more about the product or service.
- Consideration: They share their research and any content provided by the seller with other stakeholders within their organization.
- Intent: Buyers may request a product demo or a free trial to further evaluate the offering.
- Evaluation: They review the contract proposal and negotiate if necessary.
- Purchase: They make the final decision and complete the purchase of the product or service.
It is important to note that in certain cases, the sales cycle may be much quicker if the decision-maker already knows precisely what they need and the seller provides the ideal solution.
1. Lead Generation and Marketing
When it comes to lead generation and marketing, B2C businesses benefit more from traditional methods of building awareness. These companies often have larger budgets to invest in TV and radio commercials, as well as paid social media campaigns. The goal is to establish brand awareness so that when customers consider making a purchase, the brand is top of mind.
On the other hand, B2B buyers typically identify a need or problem they want to solve and actively search for solutions. While they may be unaware of the specific answer, they exhibit symptoms of a problem and turn to sources such as Google or trusted colleagues within their business network for recommendations.
In the B2B context, referrals are highly valuable. If someone within the buyer’s network has used and recommended a product or service, it becomes easier to convert potential customers. Content marketing also plays a significant role in attracting B2B leads. By providing helpful and relevant content targeted at ideal customers, you can attract leads and guide them into the sales funnel.
B2B buyers rely on various types of content to aid their decision-making process. They attend webinars, watch product demos on platforms like YouTube, and consult review sites such as Capterra or G2. As a salesperson, you can create value by providing the answers your customers need and leveraging content to facilitate their buyer journey.
2. Sales Cycle Length
The length of the sales cycle is often a point of discussion when comparing B2B and B2C sales. While B2C buyers may see a product and make an immediate purchase, B2B buyers often take months to thoroughly evaluate different solutions.
However, an effective salesperson can shorten the sales process by consistently creating value at every stage of the funnel. By building trust, developing rapport, and demonstrating the benefits of their offerings, B2B salespeople can expedite the decision-making process.
In general, the higher the ticket price or subscription cost, the longer the sales cycle. For example, a product with a $47 installation fee will typically have a shorter sales cycle than an annual subscription or license costing $30,000 per year.
A longer sales cycle isn’t necessarily a negative aspect. Rushing buyers through the process without allowing them time to consult with other decision-makers or gain the necessary permissions can lead to buyer’s remorse. B2B buyers require time to liaise with other stakeholders within their organization and ensure that the chosen solution aligns with their business goals.
3. Number of Stakeholders
When it comes to B2B sales, multiple stakeholders are often involved throughout the sales cycle. Unlike B2C buyers who may seek input from friends or family, B2B buyers engage in various meetings with employees at different levels of seniority and across multiple departments.
For instance, let’s consider the HR department. An HR specialist may conduct research on various platforms and present their findings to their manager. The manager, in turn, evaluates the research and seeks approval from the chief people officer or director. Additionally, input may be required from the tech, legal, and accounting teams.
A skilled salesperson must be prepared to create value at each stage of the funnel and engage with different stakeholders without dropping the ball. B2B buyers prioritize ROI and logical decision-making, but it is essential to also address the emotional aspects of the purchase. A successful sales strategy should appeal to both the logical and emotional needs of the buyers.
4. Brand Influence
Major brands such as Nike, Apple, and Samsung have a significant influence on B2C buyers through their powerful storytelling and substantial advertising budgets. Investing millions of dollars into awareness campaigns allows these brands to reach consumers effectively. B2C buyers often care about the brand and its reputation, as they seek a sense of representation and emotional connection when making a purchase.
While B2B buyers also consider the brand, their focus is often on social proof, testimonials, customer stories, and case studies. They want to see evidence that organizations similar to theirs have succeeded with the product or service being offered. B2B buyers need to envision themselves using the product and understand the logical and emotional payoffs it offers.
For example, a marketing manager aiming to prove marketing ROI and drive growth within their company would be interested in knowing that other marketing managers have successfully used a particular product to achieve similar goals.
Finding ideal B2B clients involves meeting them where they are. To generate fruitful leads, it is crucial to understand where your ideal customers spend their time. Many B2B consumers use platforms like LinkedIn, making it an excellent place to share case studies, customer stories, and engage in meaningful discussions.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between the B2C and B2B sales funnels is crucial for developing effective sales strategies. While there are similarities in the awareness and interest stages, the longer and more complex middle stages of the B2B sales funnel require careful navigation and the ability to create value at every step. By tailoring your approach to the specific needs of your target market, leveraging content marketing, and addressing the logical and emotional aspects of the buyer’s journey, you can maximize your sales success in both B2B and B2C contexts.