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I was recently asked this question:

“What is the main difference between B2B and B2C marketing?”

This is s a misleading question, because there is no difference between B2B and B2C marketing in the abstract. What matters is the complexity of the sale, which is in turn based on two factors:

  • Risk
  • Stakeholders

At the end of the day, we are trying to encourage a decision to be made in our favor, whether we’re marketing a pack of chewing gum, a martial arts school, a communications agency, or a multibillion dollar fighter jet.

Consider the simple B2B sale, such as a company purchasing SEO services from an online vendor. The risk is low; a marketer signs onto the website, chooses a plan for a fee every month, types in the credit card number, and their plan is active. They’ve made a B2B purchase, but their process through the buyer’s journey was fast. The time between awareness, consideration, and purchase could be measured in minutes.

Why did the sale move so fast? There was little risk and one stakeholder. Though it’s a B2B sale, it’s transactional and low complexity.

Consider the complex B2C sale, such as choosing a college for a child, a new car, or a home. The risk is high, due to cost and individual preferences. There may be many stakeholders – even though a parent might be paying the bills, the child might be driving some of the choices and selection. In the case of a college education, there may even be multiple third parties making the deal more complex, such as financial aid professionals. The net outcome is that it may take a family years to choose a college.

Even though this is technically a B2C sale, it’s a very long sales cycle and high complexity.

Instead of thinking in terms of B2B or B2C, think in terms of complexity. Think in terms of how risky your product or service is, and how many stakeholders are involved in the decision.

Want to increase your sales and reduce your sales cycle? Find ways to reduce risk or reduce the number of stakeholders needed for someone to buy from you.


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