B2B sales teams have to face specific challenges that rely on skills different from those employed in B2C commerce. They need to negotiate clients through longer and more complicated purchase journeys, sell higher price points, win over stakeholders, and, generally, appeal to much more specific target markets. However, both B2B and B2C core disciplines are still ultimately sales. The performance of B2C businesses may provide valuable insights into how to refine B2B sales processes. Here are seven points taken from the B2C sphere that could improve B2B sales and generate fresh solutions to established B2B challenges.
1. Leverage Data
Data is a huge driver in B2C sales, and there’s no reason B2B firms should be overlooking its value. Data can help you develop customer profiles, understand their needs, and pinpoint the best opportunities for reaching them during the purchase journey. This is critical for B2B businesses because of the longer duration of sales cycles: most B2C customers take long enough just to decide on which pair of shoes to buy, so imagine the pressure on a firm deciding where to invest thousands of dollars that will affect the performance of the entire company.
Utilizing research tools for B2B sales should therefore be a priority for B2B businesses who want an edge in sales. Think of how many times you visit a B2C website that solicits feedback through surveys or chatbots. These present the best opportunity for collecting quantitative data that B2C companies could benefit from adopting.
B2B companies often rely on concrete USPs and direct messaging about the value of their products and services in their marketing and sales materials. While this formal tone can assure professionalism, it shouldn’t be the only voice employed in your company’s communication. The decisions made at the companies you’re selling to are still dictated by people, who are no less receptive to emotion than the general public.
A warmer tone in your brand messaging and marketing materials can generate interest in prospective clients and set you apart from the competition. As more and more companies underline the importance of branding in their marketing budgets, forging emotional connections helps welcome new B2B clients and can develop stronger bonds of trust and value alignment in would-be commercial partners.
Google announced in 2015 that the majority of its search traffic now comes from mobile devices instead of desktops. This trend is something that B2C companies have been quick to embrace and, quite simply, B2B firms need to catch up. Since many executives are comfortable doing business through their smart devices, your digital marketing materials need to be optimized for mobile browsing. These can include:
- Content marketing
- White papers
These need to be concise and responsive to suit the content that will be accessed on mobile. White papers shouldn’t be more than five pages in length, for example. Additionally, email structures need to be adapted for mobile users with tight subject lines and formatting that won’t require users to constantly zoom in and pinch to read the content.
Your marketing funnels could be drawing in audiences from a dozen different sources, but if your overall marketing standards aren’t coherent, you risk undermining your business’ brand. “Omnichannel” marketing refers to a marketing philosophy where all your channels seamlessly convey the tone and messaging of a single brand aesthetic. Channels where you can affect this could include:
- Physical shopfronts
- Social media channels
- Website design
- Paid media
Brand perception doesn’t occur in a vacuum and embracing omnichannel marketing means that every piece of marketing your company releases helps to grow brand value.
B2C companies don’t waste any time in signposting the calls to action (CTAs) they want customers and visitors to complete on their websites, and neither should B2C firms. Whether it’s subscribing to a newsletter, filling out a survey, registering an account, or making a sale, the page design privileges these elements thereby making it easy for customers to complete valuable CTAs. B2B firms need to ensure their web design is pushing commercial customers to take similar actions, such as:
- Completing a lead generation form to gather customer data
- Downloading a free e-book
- Initiating a purchase
These changes are relatively straightforward and cost-effective to implement yet could make a real difference to the conversion rate of CTAs across your web pages.
Ad retargeting is a well-established tactic in B2C digital marketing. Why? Because it gets results. The vast majority of customers who visit a B2C website for the first time leave before buying anything. Most of the time, that’s the beginning and end of the potential relationship, but retargeting means all is not lost.
Retargeting with a service like Google Ads can display your products on other websites that a consumer visits after they’ve left your site. This not only reignites their interest in the product they were considering but also helps familiarize them with your brand. Retargeting has been proven to deliver boosts for both branded searches and conversion rates. And it’s easy to set up with services like AdWords or with various social media sites. Use retargeting to draw lost customers back to the sales funnel and help improve overall audience retention.
Long-term and even lifetime customers are invaluable to the stability of a company’s bottom line, which is why B2C companies would rather a customer invests in a subscription than a series of one-off or sporadic purchases. These services offer two-way value, as customers get their needs met in a convenient and hassle-free way. While companies get a steady source of recurring revenue with lots of built-in opportunities to upsell customers on their offerings.
B2B firms could stand to benefit from this business model as well. If, for example, you sell industrial parts to manufacturers with a relatively short lifespan (i.e. they often need replacing), a subscription service would save time and money for your clients while ensuring they always have these products on hand. Once a client subscribes to this commercial model, their business is yours to lose, and, assuming you’re meeting your promises, you can look forward to a new stream of valuable regular income as long as your clients remain in financial good health, all through a single conversion.
B2C e-commerce brands have pioneered sales-driven digital marketing techniques with incredible results. They’re not afraid to take risks or dedicate sufficient operating costs to growing their audiences. Companies in the B2C sector need to learn from these practices to innovate their attitudes to marketing. This will also boost their customer bases. Every company needs to grow to survive, and these tips can help unlock your B2B business’ potential.