You’re selling in unthinkable conditions. It’s time for B2B sellers to think about taking on B2C strategies to win more sales.
What worked before may not be as effective now. Or may be obsolete.
The good news: B2B sellers don’t have to completely shift gears. Many of their long-standing practices are good – and can be improved on with B2C tactics. And most B2C ideas can be quickly adapted into a B2B operation.
“Overall, customers – regardless of B2B or B2C – crave fast, efficient, transparent and personal experiences,” says Amanda Mountain, VP of Marketing Communications at SAP Digital Commerce. “That experience, however, can manifest itself differently in B2B.”
Even better, B2B have an advantage to generating sales because salespeople usually have a deeper and longer professional relationship with customers compared to those in B2C sales. They often know buyers personally and always understand their organizations and challenges.
Build on solid relationships with these eight B2C tactics that can be integrated in your B2B sales strategy.
Be more guide, less salesperson
B2B sales pros are the ultimate experts on their solutions. But customers are savvier than ever about researching consumer and business products and services.
Because they come in to the buying process well researched, B2B can be more helpful as a guide – much like retail salespeople – than salesperson.
Support buying decisions with insider information that customers can’t get in online searches – compelling case studies, conversations with happy customers, road tested tips on saving money or maximizing product use. Steer them to independent reviews, analysis and research they might not find in searches.
Operate with end customer top of mind
B2C companies have become much more focused in the last decade. For instance, many smaller, premium grocers and some discounters have bubbled out out of a mundane, mainstream industry. They’ve created a smaller market out of the bigger industry by focusing on what segments of shoppers would want.
B2B sellers can use this strategy by personalizing more and zeroing in on the end customer – the person or group who will have the most contact with your solution. From qualifying to presenting, find and emphasize the ways the end customer will benefit from your solution. You’ll still need to highlight benefits for the decision-makers, but you can close more sales by proving benefits for everyone.
Create more one-click experiences
Even if your B2B doesn’t have online ordering (now), you can create more one-click experiences for customers. “One-click experiences” are about ease of doing business, not just about the single effort to make a purchase.
“With tools such as 24/7 access and support, price transparency and personalization, B2B buyers have all of the information they need to quickly provide answers to the final decision maker’s questions on demand,” says Mountain.
It’s essential in B2B because your customers are consumers outside of their professional roles. They’re used to having all the information they need at their fingertips and prefer it in their professional lives, too.
“B2B sellers should consider that some characteristics don’t need to perfectly replicate the B2C process, such as the idea of simplicity,” Mountain says. “For B2B buyers, simplicity may mean being able to pay with an invoice or deliver a quick quote for their procurement team. Similarly, price transparency may be more advanced than just having a published price easily available. Instead, B2B buyers may need something even beyond this, such as a … table that helps calculate cost based on number of users, amount of storage and duration of contract.”
Recognize, respond to new service attitude
Customers’ attitudes over the continued help, support and service you provide has changed. They expect order tracking, instant invoices, payment options and automated reports because B2C businesses easily provide all that. Many prefer to be left alone, too – opting for self-service and YouTube or FAQ troubleshooting.
While this may sound like you can take a step back from servicing customers because they prefer a hands-off, automated service, that’s not the case. B2B sellers and marketers need to oversee accounts with a B2C approach to service. Set up communication at regular intervals, always with an option for customers to contact you directly for personal attention. You can send tip sheets, links to more details – any great content – so they feel they’re getting service and support like they do with B2C providers.
Up your social game
B2C companies generally engage with customers in social media more than B2B sellers. It makes some sense: Social media is a more laid back platform. Denim and bubble gum seem like a better fit for Instagram and Twitter than CRM solutions or industrial HVAC systems are.
But that doesn’t mean B2B sellers don’t have a place in social media selling.
“Most B2B buyers make their decision before the first conversation with a salesperson, and social selling enables interactions early on in the process,” says Mountain. “B2C social selling fosters customer engagement on a human level and allows the exchange of valuable information to customers at the right time.”
Some social selling techniques to try for:
Use Facebook posts to move buyers to your landing page where they can get more information. To get posts right.
- Pick one specific goal for each post and only include content that hits it
- Keep it to just about 70 characters. Engage prospects quickly with a short list or question
- Include an image or photo with a link, and
- Make it easy for people to click through to the landing page where you capture contacts.
LinkedIn is a professional connecting tool you can use to up social media activity with the right contacts.
- Try LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get a list of LinkedIn profiles, Twitter handles, Skype accounts and other tools associated with email addresses in your Gmail contacts. Then you can align the lists and send personalized LinkedIn invitations from your inbox.
- Find, follow and connect with power users – the celebrity-sort in your profession or industry. Sales Navigator can help you see how big the network is for so-called influencers and determine if they’re people you want to connect with who can help you spread your word – in posts and blogs – to increase your visibility and connections.
- Join and participate in groups. Get involved in the groups by sharing insight and offering valuable information – but not selling.
Two tactics any seller can use on Twitter:
- Maximize your tweets. To get more people to look at your tweets, pin them to your profile. Pinned tweets sit at the top of your page so they’re the first thing buyers see when they get on your Twitter. You might pin a tweet that links to your most effective landing page with an opt-in form or gated piece of content.
- Join Twitter Chats related to a topic you’re an expert on. Participants can chime in on hosted chats. Some have invited guests who answer a few questions. Positioning yourself or your company as the invited guest would be key to generate more retweets, mentions, follows and leads.
Find your cause
Consumers love a cause. They often flock to a brand because it takes on a social responsibility with sales (for instance, Bombas gives a pair of socks to those in need for every pair a customer buys).
Even in B2B situations, buying from socially responsible companies is appealing. Highlight ways your company takes steps to be more ethical, environmentally or socially responsible. Make that a bigger part of your story.
Tell more stories
Even in the B2B world, buyers lean toward vendors they feel emotionally connected to. Many B2C companies use stories to build an emotional connection (remember this tearjerker Google ad?)
Your story doesn’t need to bring buyers to tears, but you want to share a story that helps them feel hope, happiness, triumph – something positive the main character felt, too. Create a story with customers words, challenges and ideas that helped them overcome the issue. Don’t make your solution the hero. Make your customer the hero.
Partner with B2Cs
What better way to sell like a B2C than to partner with a B2C?
Consider the resources, content or knowledge you have that could help a related B2C succeed. Reach out and connect with the B2C’s salesforce (through social media), offering what you can in a partnership to connect with a wider range of buyers.
For instance, during the coronavirus outbreak, “SAP has opened access to a number of its technologies that can help employees, companies, communities, and governments continue to move forward – including free solutions to keep business open and allow businesses to learn everything they need to thrive in this new normal,” Mountain says.