In the business world, it is generally understood that business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer enterprises are fundamentally different from each other. Therefore, it stands to reason that each has different needs of a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Yet, before you assume that the two are completely different worlds, some similarities exist. As you may have guessed by now, these commonalities should also factor into your company’s choice of CRM.
Sound confusing? It doesn’t have to be.
Businesses, whether they are B2B or B2C, need to manage their customers efficiently to meet the bottom line of their organization. The more you focus on providing an excellent customer experience, the better are your chances of beating the competition and making a sale.
Differences between B2B and B2C
According to LeadSquared, “Though CRMs are generally designed with the intention of helping businesses streamline their sales activities, not all CRMs make sense for all businesses. A B2C CRM is very different from a B2B one. The functionalities, features and use cases would differ on both the platforms and if you are planning on buying a CRM, you need to be able to differentiate between the two. The reason the two CRMs are designed differently is simply that the customer acquisition process in both these industries is completely different.”
LeadSquared’s breakdown of the differences between a B2B and B2C CRM are as follow:
- Lesser number of leads (easy to manage).
- Contact level management. There may be multiple contacts within just one company. A B2B CRM needs account hierarchical structure.
- Less number of lead generation sources.
- Lead path is simpler (leads are either bought/generated from few sources).
- Longer sales cycles. Therefore, long-term management of the lead is required).
- 1-1 email campaigns are the general communication channels.
- CRM generally used for sales management and sales performance tracking.
- Greater number of leads (needs better management criteria)
- Lead-level management. Each person is treated as an individual entity
- Multiple lead generation sources
- Complex lead path (same lead may come from multiple sources – traverse many paths before they actually become leads).
- Shorter sales cycles. Ability to trigger repeat purchases for the lead.
- Complex trigger-based drips and workflows are extremely important
- Generally used to manage marketing and sales operations in one place, with a complete picture of everything (CRM, MA and LMS).
There are many more differences, of course, but you get the idea. If you want to delve in deeper, the LeadSquared article provides the entire list – which is well worth reading.
Despite such marked differences, experts note that there are elements of B2B marketing that should be used in B2C efforts, and vice versa. It all comes down to data.
Data is a Big Deal in Shaping the Customer Experience
In his article for Destination CRM, technology writer Phillip Britt observes that B2B and B2C have become more intertwined in the past few years as more interactions have moved online and marketing personalization has become more important to both types of businesses.
There are several commonalities between B2B and B2C. For example, both rely on online interactions and marketing personalization. Regardless of whether you are selling your product to a company or consumer, data is what provides context to your pitch.
According to Craig Charlton, CEO of SugarCRM, “We all have an incredible amount of data now, but for many companies, that data is incomplete.” Charlton points out that you need complete and accurate data to target your marketing messages.
In both categories, marketers need to know all they can about their customers to make a sale. When you know how your customer engages with you, it becomes easier for you to make a repeat sale. According to Adrian Nash, head of the strategy, SAP Customer Experience, repeat buyers expect you to know everything about them. “They expect to have a great experience,” he says. Every buyer – whether in the B2B or B2C category – has high expectations from the seller, and you need to meet that expectation to outmaneuver your competitors.
Rick Blair, vice president, product strategy at Verint Systems, says while personal relationships are important for both categories, you cannot pursue selling if you ignore automation of interactions. He adds, “E-commerce has played into all of this.”
Mark Briggs, CEO of email solutions provider Validity, says, “The common element is that at the end of the day, you need to get your message out to the end audience, be it a buyer for a business or a consumer.”
Ben Harrison, co-founder of DealCloud – a financial services CRM solutions provider – says that a CRM system for either B2B or B2C should serve as a “single source of truth for clearer communication and better business intelligence and reports.”
In addition, according to Lauren Eubanks, senior demand generation manager of TechnologyAdvice, both categories need to use targeted marketing messages effectively to guide the buyer from the initial stage to the final stage of a purchase. “You should never use a one-size-fits-all approach.”
What B2B Can Learn from B2C
While B2B transactions are fewer in number, they account for a much higher turnover in terms of value, says Blair – who notes that B2B marketers are still in the process of developing personalization capabilities, which they need to learn from their B2C counterparts.
B2C marketers know how to personalize their email marketing content effectively, while B2B marketers need to personalize their email content properly. Says Briggs of B2B businesses, “You need to differentiate how you look in the inbox.” In addition, B2B marketers need to do their homework more thoroughly because they cannot afford to miss the decision-maker. Unlike B2C email campaigns – in which an individual consumer is easy to identify and address – B2B campaigns must identify the right person who is authorized to make buying decisions, which isn’t always an easy task.
Both B2B and B2C marketers need to know how their customers prefer to communicate. Their preferred mode could range from email, phone, Zoom meeting, or other method. However, social media is still not significantly relevant in the case of B2B marketing. Also, it is difficult for a B2B customer to make a purchase using his or her iPhone or other mobile device.
The emphasis on providing an excellent customer experience is another page that B2B can take from the B2C playbook. Don’t take your customers for granted. A good CRM solution can help your business keep track of your dealings with each customer, and can even help you anticipate their needs and offer proactive solutions. Keep in mind the disruptive effect that COVID-19 has had on businesses of all sizes and industries. As our blog post – “How CRM Can Help Your B2B Sales in the New Normal” – covers, you may need to adjust how you serve your existing customers, based upon their changed needs. You could also have the opportunity to warm up previously cold leads!
However, as Amy Wood writes for Copper Chronicles, some myths and misconceptions about B2B and B2C CRMs persist – including the following:
- B2B CRM is only for salespeople, while B2C CRM is for marketers. In fact, both types of businesses demand a strong alignment with marketing in order to succeed. “Yes, there are CRM products out there that cater specifically to B2B and B2C businesses, but choosing a product specifically for this reason may mean prioritizing a niche feature over more far-reaching benefits like ease of adoption.”
- B2B businesses rely on relationship-building; B2C businesses don’t. Copper’s 2018 CRM and Productivity Benchmark Report reports that nowadays, “few customers are interested in one-off, transactional purchases.” Instead they’re looking for long-term relationships with companies that value their loyalty.
- B2B requires a unique sales process and strategy whereas B2C can use a more templated approach. “No matter which column your business falls into, you’re selling your product or service to real people with real problems that need solving. This means taking a unique sales approach—not a templated one-size-fits-all approach—with a CRM that can adapt to your needs.”
- B2B and B2C companies can’t use the same CRM. “A fully customizable CRM should be able to address either B2B or B2C. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, there may be some transactional B2C companies that don’t require high-touch relationship-building. In this case, a robust automation tool would do the trick.
Regardless of which category your business belongs to, make sure that the CRM you choose for your organization is easy to use, is customizable and can integrate well with your existing applications. A CRM solution that covers all of these bases can be adapted to both B2B and B2C businesses.
Choose your CRM solution carefully
Speaking of the selection process, we invite you to evaluate eZnet CRM. Designed to be a comprehensive CRM solution, eZnet CRM is user-friendly, easy to customize and scale, and has excellent vendor support. Your sales team needs every advantage it can get! Contact us to learn more, and start your free 30-day trial.