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Shopping Step 1: Forget B2B versus B2C

Step oneMyths about what B2C and B2B mean can get in the way when looking for sales jobs, sales books or training, and when looking for good CRM—which is why this article is here.

The primary myths are that B2B is more complex, involves more sales meetings, a longer sales cycle, and higher dollars. In truth:

There are lots of products and services sold to consumers that involve complex issues, very high dollar amounts, many meetings, and more than one decision maker. Buying or selling a home is one example, investment and retirement services is another. What’s more, there are lots of inexpensive business products and services sold to a single decision maker in one meeting or transaction. As for the often unspoken conceit that selling B2B requires more skill…baloney.

Ignore B2B and B2C Labels

Despite the many things B2C and B2B have in common, many CRM identify as designed for one or the other (most choose the latter because that’s where the big bucks are). To find the right CRM you’ll have to ignore those labels and focus instead on features and functions. Clarifying a few things in advance will help you get a jump start.

  • Selling to businesses (or non-profits): Do you tend to dig deep or go broad in your approach to your market?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: When does qualifying typically occur?
  • Selling to businesses or consumers: How complex is your typical sale?

The rest of this article helps you answer those questions. It also includes some general statements about CRM to help warm up your shopping skills.

Selling to Business – Digging Deep

  • Do you tend to work with larger companies and purposely dig in, dealing with many contacts and departments within each organization?
  • Is your goal to penetrate throughout an organization because there are many potential buyers (and users) within it?
  • Does your territory primarily consist of certain large target organizations which are assigned “accounts”?

If any or all of the above describe how you approach your target market, that’s an enterprise sales model. Many of the big-name CRM fit well with this model because that’s how they target prospects and sell, too.

Selling to Business – Going Broad – and Selling to Consumers

  • Do you target small and/or medium size organizations?
  • Do you target larger organizations but potential buyers tend to be somewhat centralized; for example, everything flows through a few divisions or one purchasing department?

In both of those cases there are typically a lower number of contacts connected to a single organization, and a higher number of individual human and company contacts.

CRM designed for enterprise selling is not a good fit for the above. The things that save steps and create nifty reports for enterprise-selling just add hassle and generate unrealistic “data.” Fortunately, there are many CRM that will be a good fit, including some supposedly designed for B2C.

  • We also have a high number of individual contacts when selling to consumers.

Since contact information often focuses on their place of work, CRM designed for B2B may be as good or better than CRM for B2C.

Selling to Business or Consumers – Are your prospects pre-qualified?

Companies using an enterprise sales model have often pre-qualified their prospects. They already know the prospects use products or services like theirs and can almost certainly afford it—they just need a way in.

A similar situation exists when frequently selling in response to Requests for Proposal (RFPs). The RFP’s existence and content pre-qualifies these prospects.

CRM designed for the above situations show “qualify” very early in the process. You can spot this in screenshots of their funnel—which shows the default.

Though most of us would love to have such pre-qualified prospects, we do not usually get to qualify until later. This doesn’t mean we should somehow pre-qualify prospects, it means CRM that expect we do are a poor fit. We need CRM that lets us customize the process stages.

Selling to Business or Consumers – Complexity

The last thing to clarify before you shop is how complex your sales tend to be. Complexity is based on stages in the process, and number of players involved in deciding to buy.

  • How many stages and sales conversations does your typical sale involve? (Include a prospecting/marketing stage.)

If your overall process from start to new business typically involves one, two or three stages, CRM that show more stages will be a hassle to use and will charge for features and reports you don’t need. Again, a quick look at the CRM’s funnel will give you a big hint.

If your overall process typically involves four or more stages (or sales conversations), then CRM with a matching number of stages may work well—as long as you can define the stages to suit your process.

The above applies to selling to businesses and to consumers, making a CRM’s “B2B” or “B2C” label irrelevant.

  • How many players are involved in the decision to buy?

The other aspect of complexity is the number of people involved in decisions: users, subject matter experts, influencers, budget-controllers… Unfortunately, few CRM separate the issue of players from that of stages.

If your overall sales process typically has very few stages but lots of players, you may find that CRM with several stages in its process is your best bet. This narrows things down to B2B CRM or tracking players in other ways, which brings this article to a closing point.

Shop for as much as possible

You may not find one CRM that does everything you want and need—keep shopping until you find one that does most of the important things.

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