Key differences between B2B and B2C lead generation

Where B2B lead generation caters to business enterprises and corporations, B2C lead generation caters to individual consumers. Here are the key similarities and differences between B2B and B2C lead generation

Though many people might think that enterprises are also consumers, because they are in essence made up of individual people who make the decisions, these types of lead generation approaches differ wildly in their tactics. As customers, both have slightly different requirements when it comes to building a relationship with brands.

Here are some of the key differences between B2B and B2C lead generation:

Ingredient #1: Sales cycle length

Investments made in B2B lead generation are often more elaborate because contracts with businesses are usually much larger than contracts made with consumers. The amount of time and resources dedicated to a purchase are often larger in the B2B world. This makes the sales cycle longer, which can take months, or even years to complete. B2C sales cycles and transactions tend to be much shorter and usually involves far less money.

Ingredient #2: Unique content

Think of B2B as the fussy and scrutinizing customer at a store. B2B customers are usually more knowledgeable because they tend to do a lot more research before making a purchase than B2C customers. This means that they typically require more valuable content including free case studies, infographics, and white papers to nudge them along the sales funnel.

On the other hand, marketers often tap into B2C customers during their “buying phase.” Lead generation content for B2C often come in the forms of promotions, unique offers, and personal messaging.

Ingredient #3: Audience scope

B2C lead generation initiatives often cater to a broad audience. Unlike in B2B where the decision rests with top management, everyone is a customer with purchasing power in B2C. The markers of a good B2C lead generation initiative is the ability to grab a customer’s attention amidst noise from competitors.

On the other hand, B2B lead generation caters to a far narrower market—a company’s decision makers. The goal is to ensure that your products and services are on their radar when it’s time to make a purchase. Since the audience scope is smaller and more precise, it demands a more proactive and personalized approach.

Ingredient #4: Where the audience is on social media

LinkedIn is the social media hub of professionals and business executives. Thus, B2B marketers can leverage LinkedIn to reach decision makers and influencers in the business realm. As for B2C, their audience is everywhere on social media, so it makes sense to be highly visible in the top three platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you only need to focus on LinkedIn for B2B and the top three for B2C. The top three platforms can also be utilized by B2B marketers to target business customers; your content just has to match the dynamics of the particular platform you’re using.

Ingredient #5: Main challenge (or the main goal)

While both B2B and B2C lead generation aim to result in a sale, their main goals are quite different. While B2C tries to attract customer attention in the middle of a highly saturated market, a good B2B lead generation campaign attempts to build a personal relationship with prospects based on trust so that when they are ready to make a purchase decision, your brand is the first thing that comes to mind.

Ingredient #6: How products are sold

Since B2B’s primary currency is trust, products or services are sold through professional (and sometimes personal) relationships that are built over time. B2B clients often make purchases from people they know personally or from individuals with which they’ve built a professional relationship.

On the other hand, B2C products and services make sales through price perception and quality. Customers rarely know individual representatives within a company before making a purchase decision. Given this, impulse purchases in B2B are very unlikely, while in B2C, they are expected to occur more often.

Ingredient #7: Customers' attitude towards unsolicited calls

Professional calls, even when unsolicited, are often expected during business hours in B2B. These calls often include requests for presentations or a casual drop in at the office to deliver some materials for future reference. These are all part of the job.

However, for B2C clients, unsolicited calls are often viewed as an invasion of their privacy. This is why B2C marketers rely more on permission marketing techniques to reach out to their audiences.

Ingredient #8: Price

Of course, getting a product or service at a lower cost is great, but in B2B, lowest price guarantee is an expectation, not a bonus. When B2B clients respond, they often have the intention of making a purchase within an allocated budget. It’s all about convincing them of the product or service’s worth.

As for B2C clients, getting the lowest price guarantee is crucial as they are, in essence, spending their own money. Not to mention the fact that there are probably many other competitive offers available.

Ingredient #9: Product knowledge

B2B marketers deal directly with decisions makers who might have follow-up questions or concerns that need to be addressed right away. This means that B2B marketers need to be well-versed in their product knowledge and provide proofs of concept that they know inside and out.

As for B2C marketers, product knowledge is also necessary. However, piquing the customer’s interest is usually enough to get the ball rolling.

Ingredient #10: Interaction

B2C deals with individuals who make the purchase decisions. On the other hand, B2B marketers often face teams within a company, and this involves meeting the demands and specific needs of multiple groups of people that may influence the decision-making process. This kind of interaction is vital in the course of closing a sale, as well as maintaining relationships with B2B clients.

Avoiding B2B Lead Generation Mistakes

Keeping these ingredients in mind will help you avoid mistakes when developing B2B lead generation strategies. While both share the same goal of improving sourcing new customers, the approaches required to address a prospect’s needs are different.

There is no hard-and-fast rule to maximize your conversion rates so knowing as much as possible about a particular prospect will help you better choose your tactics and shape your lead generation initiatives.