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B2B vs B2C CRM: The Difference and Examples of Each

CRM buyers need to distinguish between two distinct kinds of customer relationship management — business-to-business and business-to-customer CRM. These two of tools are very different, and do different things for an enterprise. Here are some of the major differences that show how B2B and B2C CRM work.

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The Evolution of B2B CRM

Many experts would say that in terms of the origin of customer relationship management, B2B CRM is much older. In fact, some primitive versions of B2B CRM systems go back to the age of mainframe computers.

Even in the early days of digital data, it made sense to build a database or system to house data about business-to-business transactions. That’s because each one involved significant amounts of money, and required effort. So before the rise of modern customer relationship management, companies were already using computers to track some kinds of business-to-business sales.

That really wasn’t the case for business to customer transactions until fairly recently. Some of the main drivers for business-to-customer CRM involve the capability of large modern databases and cloud analytics to enable key business intelligence handling.  In addition, the emerging use of smartphones has made  it easier to track individual customer behaviors. Prior to that, most businesses didn’t use specific CRM tools for customer-facing sales processes.

B2B and B2C Complexity

One of the other major differences between B2B and B2C CRM is the relative complexity of B2B systems.

First, there’s channel complexity — a B2B company often works with vendor partners, resellers or affiliate companies, selling to other businesses through multiple channels. That requires specific functionality in CRM tools.

However, a much more important and distinctive feature of B2B CRM is a process that focuses on developing personal individual contacts within the larger company.

A corporation isn’t a person — it doesn’t have emotions, and it doesn’t make purchasing decisions based on a personal relationship. So the process of developing B2B CRM is different than it is for customer-facing sales.

Many of the best B2B CRM tools have specific functions related to identifying ‘gatekeepers’ or influential people within a business. Customized fields track the progress of a deal according to whom your salespeople are talking to within the business. Getting through to the right person or people is paramount in B2B sales, and B2B CRM reflects that.

By contrast, customer-facing sales is often fairly simple and straightforward — the company is trying to reach a given individual to persuade him or her to make certain personal shopping decisions. So all of that elaborate infrastructure in B2B tools isn’t necessary for B2C. But, B2C still needs its own range of tools aimed at getting the individual customer to make a choice.

A Personal, Transactional System

On the other hand, B2C businesses aren’t usually trying to drive ‘grand bargains’ by working on the same deal month after month. Instead, they’re trying to attract quick, easy product sales by connecting with individual people.

The B2C CRM tool often focuses on creating personal, relatable B2C transactions. They may even put a face to the name, storing a video image of a customer to help salespeople know who they’re dealing with. More commonly, though, a CRM tool simply collects and aggregates all sorts of behavior data that show the customer’s preferences and past history with the company.

With this data in hand, aB2C tool’s features work  twofold — it works according to specific individual customer tastes and preferences, but it also works on a mass level, often plugging an individual customer’s file into a demographics engine to send direct mail or reach out in some other way.

The above philosophies of B2C marketing make B2B and B2C CRM  very different tools. The data collection techniques are different, as are the dashboards and displays. The types of loyalty programs built into B2C engines are fundamentally different — again, the B2B tool is built for creating a big deal over a significant period of time, whereas the B2C tool is geared toward making lots of smaller deals every day.

Example of B2B CRM

Suppose a company is selling industrial equipment to other businesses. It’s most likely going to have CRM software that builds a profile of a target company, identifying key individuals in that company, as mentioned above. Users can track points of contact with company representatives to figure out what stage a deal is in and how to upsell or cross sell products and services. Salespeople often look at how something is sold to one department to figure out how to add another relationship into the mix.

Example of B2C CRM

Now think of a company that sells juice boxes or roller skates or sweaters to a consumer audience.

The CRM reflects that audience targeting for quick and easy sales. It includes the ability to look at the dashboard and see how groups of customers react to campaigns based on behavioral analytics. It can also show how specific marketing campaigns are performing. These tools provide numbers on individual transactions to show whether groups of customers are individually responding to a campaign or not. B2C CRMs also often show the data collected through customer loyalty programs that target individuals with custom e-mails, direct mailings, the use of a store loyalty card, or other personalized marketing techniques.

Many B2C systems are made for “repeat sales”  by gathering information on the first sale, so that the company can use that data to try to facilitate a second sale, and a third, and a fourth. Above all, a B2C CRM should be able to look target mass groups and individuals.  It may have all sorts of demographic or mass-marketing designs, but it  should still cater to each individual person you’re trying to sell to. Think about these differences when considering B2B or B2C CRM.

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