There is no such thing as B2B or B2C

Go to any business meeting these days and talk about Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be met with a familiar cry: “Aha,”, says the hapless accountant, lawyer or consultant to you, “that’s all very well for consumer businesses, but how can it help those of us in the B2B sector?” It is special pleading, suggesting that there is something very different about being in “business to business” that sets you apart from “business to consumer“. These people ask you for “B2B” examples of the success of social media, taunting you that the only real success has been found in the “B2C sector”. “Aha, got you,” they seem to be saying under their breath.

The fact of the matter is – and, be warned, this is really difficult for people who reckon they are in the B2B sector – there is no such thing as either B2B or B2C. It is a false distinction.

B2B is the same as B2C

When I get told that B2B is special I simply ask: “Who buys your stuff? Is it a machine? Is it a business? Or is it a person?”. Often people stumble out a reply saying, “well obviously it is a person,” then there’s a pause and they add “but they are in a business”. This last bit is simply the justification for their thought that B2B exists.

So, I pursue my line of enquiry, rather detective-like. “Which businesses then, give you most of your business? Which companies do you sell most to?” People are usually able to say who their best clients are. Then I ask, “And do you have good relationships with the people in that business?” Naturally, the answer is yes.

Then I ask them to think about the businesses they do little business with. I ask them to consider the personal relationships they have in those firms. “Well, I don’t really know anyone there,” is the usual reply. Then it slowly dawns: the “businesses” with which a company has the best personal relationships are the ones which generate the most cash. In other words, you are not selling to a business, but to a person – often a friend.

Asking people in a B2B environment about who they do business with always reveals this fact: most business is done with individuals in a company with whom a good, solid personal relationship exists. Ask any B2B owner if relationships are not important to their sales and they will look at you like you’ve just arrived from the planet Zog.

B2C is the same as B2B

In the “B2C” sector companies, such as retailers know this. They know that each purchase is a one-on-one experience. They are selling to you the individual, whether you are buying a bottle of fizzy pop or a new dining room suite. They focus on selling to individuals, to people – they just call them “consumers” in order to make it sound much more fancy than it is.

The truth is – whether you are selling to businesses or to consumers – it all comes down to relationships. It is all, ultimately person to person business – P2P.

What this means is that “B2C” companies are merely those which concentrate on personal selling. “B2B” firms are often not focusing on the person-to-person nature of their business enough. Once they do, the difference between them and a “B2C” company gets eroded.

Whatever business you are in your buyers make the same purchasing decisions. Whether it is a bottle of fizzy pop or a multi-million-pound mega deal, the brain processes are the same (and ultimately emotionally driven). The buyers do not divide themselves into “B2B” or “B2C” – to them they are just a person buying something. When B2B companies realise they are just a person selling something they will then be able to connect – P2P – using all the wonders of the online world.

Social media may be dominated by “B2C” examples, but that’s only because they are one-step ahead of most “B2B” firms in realising that they are selling to individuals. Social media is P2P – when you focus on being a P2P business instead of a B2B one, that’s when it will work for you.

Are You Falling Victim to these Five Sales Traps?

Have you ever dug a big, deep hole and then been stupid enough to fall into it? Countless people unwittingly dig fatal sales traps for themselves that kill off any chance of a sale being made.  Five of the most common traps that you must avoid if you want to sell more of your products and services are:

1) Thinking about the sale too much
When you are in the selling process you must stop thinking about the sale.  Once you have set your sales objective for your call put it out of your mind and concentrate on the customer and what they want.  Get the dollar signs out of your eyes, forget your objective and focus on the most important person – the customer. Help them to get what they need and the sale will take care of itself.

2) Failing to probe
If you truly want to help the customer then you must probe their needs thoroughly. Failing to ask enough questions and failing to clarify customer’s requirements leads to sales proposals that are off target.  If your proposal doesn’t meet the customer’s specific needs, your chances of success are slim.

3) Negotiating before selling
Selling is convincing someone to purchase your product or service. Negotiation is agreeing on what terms the purchase will take place.  If you start negotiating before you have followed the correct selling process then you are, quite literally, selling yourself short.  If the customer does not fully appreciate how much you can help them then they are unlikely to be prepared to pay what you ask.  Sell first, negotiate second.  If you sell well then you may not need to negotiate at all.

4) Price dropping
Many customers, particularly trained buyers, will always tell you that your price is “too expensive”. Many salespeople immediately drop their price (and cut their profits) in an attempt to close the sale.  This only encourages the customer to ask for further price cuts.  One of the many counters to “It’s too expensive” is, “you are absolutely right, it’s not cheap.  Would you like to know why?” And then re-commence selling the benefits of your product or service to justify your price.

5) Failing to follow up
A sale isn’t a sale until the money is in the bank.  Failure to do what you say you are going to do will lose you more sales than anything else.  Always do what you promised to do, make sure the customer gets what they want, and make sure they pay you for it. The selling process is far from over when the customer says ‘Yes’. Follow through and make sure you don’t lose the sale through poor customer service.