Is there a difference between selling to B2B and B2C customers?

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The answers to this question are both yes and no! Yes, because there is in the minds of people doing the selling. And no, because the principles are the same for both types of selling.

Besides the fact that business-to-business customers buy the same products (goods or services) at lower prices than business-to-consumer customers, there is really only one distinction.

B2B buyers are looking for a selection to fill a space or their customers’ needs. On the other hand, B2C customers look for one item to fill a space or need. Both buyers have a spot that they are trying to fill.

That is why they are customers. When there is no space (either figuratively or literally) that needs to be filled either now or in the future, there are no customers.

For either customer classification, when they are looking to buy or are open to suggestions, what they will accept has to be either contrast/complementary or complementary/contrast to their business. So, for example, what is under consideration is different but complementary to what they offer. Or it is complementary but different to what they have, present, or do.

If it is of such a contrast that it is not complimentary, the customer has no use. On the other hand, if it is complementary and not in comparison, it most likely will be the same as what they already have, offer, or do.

Who needs two suppliers for the same thing? One must understand that these contrast/complementary and complementary/ contrast thoughts are always present in their customers’ thinking.

b2b or b2c?Another factor to consider for both types of customers and their contrast/complementary. complimentary/contrast buying is that both are “upgrading.” “Upgrading” is usually thought to be related to purchasing for more money.

Price can, and sometimes is, a form of upgrading. Price, however, does not have to mean more expensive. Often the price is the last form of upgrading to come into play. Better value, more comprehensive selections of color, shape, material, uses, sizes, newness, uniqueness, rarity are forms of upgrading that play a significant role in customers’ decision-making processes.

Upgrading may be filling a space problem nagging the buyer with its glaring cavity, or it’s “just something” the buyer believes will add to or finish off something else. It could relate to something they have read about or been told about being “in” before others are in on the “in” or being “out” – not wanting to have or do what everyone else has or does. People upgrade to look better in their own or someone else’s eyes. People do not purposely buy something to “downgrade” themselves.

Being aware of these factors in business-to-business and business-to-consumer customers’ minds is one thing. Detecting the various components in their thinking is another. The best way to learn which situation they are in — contrast/complementary or complementary/contrast — is to carefully listen to their comments and questions. This is called “listening between the lines.

All customers have had conversations with others, or for that matter with themselves, before they go looking or agree to meet with or talk to a salesperson. They scan catalogs, newspaper and magazine ads, listen to radio commercials. Or sit through TV commercials, they will pay attention to those products and services related to what they have been talking or thinking about. Those conversations or thoughts will show up in their comments and questions.

Some customers’ comments and questions emphasize what they believe will fit into what they are doing, planning to do, or would like to do. Other comments and questions will say they don’t want to make the same mistake others or they previously made.

Anyone selling to business-to-business and business-to-consumer customers should be asking themselves, “Why are they making those comments or asking their questions that way?”

Are there differences between selling to business-to-business and business-to-consumer customers?

Yes, in the eyes of those doing the selling, there are, but there shouldn’t be in reality.

No, because sales can only be made when customers, be they business-to-business or business-to-consumer customers, believe what they are considering fits their contrast/complementary or complementary/contrast situation and that they. Making their buying decision will look better in their own eyes and/or someone else’s eyes.