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How does B2B social selling compare and contrast to B2C social selling

By Sander Biehn | Jun 27, 2017

We live in a consumer-driven world. It is no wonder that B2C has taken the lead in using social media to sell. Meanwhile, B2B marketers have looked on with envy as social media remains something of a ‘cottage industry’ with B2B sellers and marketers alike. B2B has a very different type of buying and selling process. Can B2C methods of social selling possibly also work for B2B?In order to find

In order to find out, we need to look at how the B2C buying process itself compares to B2B.

We can look to a multitude of articles written about the differences between B2C and B2B marketing, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s boil it down to just two main differences.

  1. B2B selling leverages the use of a personalized/professional sales force that works with buyers over time. B2B sales people often work with multiple decision makers. They often need to converse with buyers more than once before they make a sale. While there are some B2C sales models that require the same thing, a vast majority of B2C selling these days comes down to a buyer considering an offer and deciding whether to buy it right away. Many times, a B2C sale happens online after a few minutes of consideration.
  2. B2B buyers are generally making larger purchases and they cannot buy whatever they want. They are looking for specific items and are told how to evaluate various solutions and products. B2B sales are not knee-jerk decisions. They follow a prescriptive path.

Because of these major differences, it is tempting to say that we need to take an entirely innovative approach when selling in the B2B world vs B2C. However, there is one important similarity that will dictate how we approach social selling in B2B:

Just like B2C buyers, B2B buyers crave new relationships with sales people who have interesting new ideas. B2B buyers want to learn on their own by consuming cool content.

In the end, B2B buyers are people too. Even B2B buyers want to have a little bit of fun now and again.  Whether it’s a video or visually stimulating white paper, the form of content matters. Just like B2C, the goal of any social media marketing program is to get more eyeballs on your content.

This leaves us with the obvious question: Should B2B social media programs look identical to B2C programs?

This is where so many marketers and sales leaders get it wrong.

B2B content needs to be radically different than B2C content. It has to be laser-focused on the needs of the buyer in order to have any impact. And those needs are much bigger than simply a buyer’s personal preferences. Buying is the job of the buyer. They need to make decisions they can justify to their department and to executives. They need solid reasons to buy one product over another.

Here are two key items that you need to consider when creating content for your B2B buyer:

  1. You must help buyers justify buying from you. Showing buyers how your solution benefits their industry or why others have purchased your product (over your competition) is critical to winning them over. No B2C click-bait fluffy social posts need to apply. The more specific and data-driven you can get the better.
  2. Use your sales force to spread the messages on social. B2B sales are predicated on a sales person creating a relationship with a buyer. It will benefit the company’s bottom line, in the end, to let the sales team do the talking. Here’s why. Studies show that buyers don’t trust brands online anywhere near as much as they trust other individuals (even strangers!). A buyer may visit your website based on a social message posted by the brand, but will not trust the content unless a trusted source has sent them to that site. Individuals are trusted 6 times more than brands according to the Content Marketing Institute.

If you are trying to create a social media program for your B2B marketing and sales efforts a great deal can be learned by looking at the success of B2C on social. However, significant differences exist.  Don’t forget to use your sales teams to engage buyers and make sure the content they are sharing is as specific as possible to gain the interest of no-nonsense B2B buyers.


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