The Difference Between B2B vs B2C Buying Process

By Iida Sirviö Published: 28 April, 2021 Last updated: March 23rd, 2022 at 7:21 am


Just like consumers and businesses have different needs, B2B and B2C sales require different strategies.

Without a proper understanding of the differences between B2B vs B2C buying process, you might miss a crucial stage in the buyer’s journey or focus on a wrong tactic and end up losing the sale.

In this post, I’ll focus on some of the key differences between B2B vs B2C buying process and what you need to take into account when targeting businesses and individual consumers.

1. Ideal buyer persona vs ideal company profile

The differences start in the way B2B and B2C companies define their ideal buyer personas

Whereas B2C buyer personas focus on individual buyers and their pain points, B2B companies need to map out all the decision-makers and ideal company profiles as well. Thorough firmographic segmentation that maps out the company size, industry, annual revenue, business objectives and challenges is important when creating successful B2B buyer personas.

Besides, in the B2B buying process you need to target groups of people that affect each other instead of just separate individuals. 

2. Several decision makers vs one decision maker

According to a DemandGen in most B2B purchases there’s between one to six people involved.

So instead of just converting one person, you need to convert various people with possibly different motives and priorities.

You need to identify the “purchase initiators” (people who engage with your brand first), grab their attention. Then identify the different decision-makers involved later in the buying process and address their buyer intents.

With B2C, the buying process is more straightforward. You just need to focus on addressing the key pain points and priorities of the individual consumers.

3. Short vs long buyer’s journey

The length of the buyer’s journey between B2B vs B2C is also very different.

B2C buyers have less interest in thorough product evaluation than B2B buyers. They often go through the same journey in minutes that can take months for B2B buyers.

Most B2C purchases fall into <100USD price range. And as these decisions have less at stake,  they’re often made on impulse without in-depth analysis. Therefore their journey should be focused to create a great first impression with relatable and entertaining content that grabs their attention and solves their pain points immediately.

The B2B purchases on the other hand are often more expensive and carefully planned.

With B2B you have more time to educate the buyer and therefore B2B audiences require a lot more content. And as their journey is longer, they also need a logical progression of micro-conversions to move towards bigger commitments. The longer the cycle, the more important it is to break down the journey into smaller steps.

4. Search for certainty vs fulfillment of personal desires

Many say B2C buyers make decisions based on their emotions and B2B rely on the rationel. 

The truth is that 95% of our purchasing decisions are made subconsciously. This means that both rely on emotions – just on different ones.

Yes, B2B buyers respond better to formal tone, expert advice, ROI centric considerations and rational reasoning than B2C. – But only because it gives them a feeling of certainty.

Even though some B2C buyers might seek a feeling of certainty as well, they mostly respond better to engaging and entertaining content that appeals to consumers’ personal desires and value systems. Also more relatable and less formal tone of voice often works better with B2C.

5. Nonexistent vs continuous relationship with sales

The relationship between the salesperson and the B2B buyer is much more important than in B2C sales. This is directly related to their need for certainty.

In the B2B buying process, the abilities of the salesperson have a big impact on the actual buying decision and the relationship remains important also after the purchase. B2C on the other hand might never even have contact with an actual salesperson.

Although many consumers become loyal to brands, they’re probably not interested to get to know your team on a personal level.

Wrapping up

Content marketing, advertising and digital PR needs of B2B and B2C companies are vastly different.

You could be losing sales if you’re missing a stage in your B2B funnel or boring your B2C audience with overly technical and complex language when you should be engaging and funny.

To optimize your buyer’s journey, you need to do continuous research of the buying behavior of your target audience and understand the key differences between the b2b vs b2c buying process.