B2B vs B2C Sales Recruiting: What are the differences?

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When recruiting for sales positions, many may feel all sales jobs are similar. This is fairly far from the truth, however, as business to business sales (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) sales are each distinctive. While sales careers often offer the advantage of mobility within one’s career, experts agree it can be difficult to change types of sales careers.

What are the Major Differences between B2B and B2C?

B2B and B2C sales are both similar in that they involve a thorough knowledge of sales tactics and the products being marketed, and they involve becoming familiar with one’s market or target audience. Some of the differences are outlined below.

  • Selling to businesses (B2B) often involves selling more complex products. For example, hospitals need complex machinery to make proper diagnoses, while items sold to individuals are typically easy to use or are products designed to make life easier.
  • B2B selling requires someone who can maintain customer relationships, as the sale cycles are much longer than with consumers. The relationships also need a bit of “nurturing” from the beginning.
  • B2B selling is usually only successful if the business stays in continuous need of the products available.
  • Selling to businesses requires selling to a limited market: the businesses that need the advertised product.
  • B2C selling has a much wider target audience, as people don't always buy only what they need. An aesthetically appealing product may sell simply because one can afford it and appreciates its appeal.
  • Selling to consumers typically requires less upfront knowledge.
  • B2C selling usually requires more “people skills,” where B2B requires people skills, but product knowledge is most essential.

In summary, one should not enter the market of B2B selling unless he or she has thorough product knowledge or can gain it quickly. When dealing with businesses, knowledge is key, as major business purchases are almost always long term decisions based on the good of the company. After all, a purchaser for a company would likely be regarded as an inefficient one if he continued to make purchasing decisions that were not financially sound. In contrast, an everyday consumer can make decisions based on his or her personal preferences. If one considers himself a “people person,” he’s likely best suited for consumer sales. Those who enjoy interacting with professionals and sharing important information more than casual conversation may find themselves to be more passionate about business sales.

How Recruiting Should Differ

When recruiting for these two areas, one should remember the key differences and attempt to find appropriate matches within the specific field. For example, simply because an individual made record profits selling cellular phone contracts to individuals, doesn’t mean he could sell pharmaceutical products to a doctor’s office. While many may be tempted to cross over into another sales area for the more profitable commission usually found in business sales, some questions should be asked before you make the decision to encourage the placement.

  • Does this person interact professionally and at a business level when discussing products with clients?
  • Does this candidate have knowledge of the product, or can he learn this knowledge quickly? For example, has there already been some prior knowledge shown, or is the product something that is easy to learn? Products that require little background knowledge are ideal for those transitioning.
  • Can this candidate maintain long term business relationships, even if the customer is a bit difficult?

So, What About Changing from B2B to B2C?

This is still tricky, because those selling to businesses may find difficulty in closing sales quickly, especially with products that have emotional meaning. Someone who is accustomed to taking a week or so to close a deal with a business may find it difficult and trying to close a sale on jewelry, for example, as once the customer walks away, the relationship could be terminated. Consumer sales is often much more unpredictable as well, which can test the patience of those accustomed to the more structured days of business salesmen. 

Written by: Sales Experts Executive Recruiters (www.salesexpertexecutiverecruiters.com) are the experts of sales recruitment. Enter our resources page for further posts about sales recruiters and other topics.

Views: 3640

Comment by Kevin Stone on February 24, 2015 at 2:33pm

Eliot Burdett wrote an article prior to this that presents the information a little bit differently. For those interested in the B2B and B2C differences, it is certainly worth a read too: B2C vs. B2B Sales Recruiting: Establishing the Differences 


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