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  • Brian Burns

The Differences Between B2C and B2B Sales Careers


I recently spoke on the podcast about the most important decision you’ll ever make: what is your career? What industry do you go into? What role do you take? Decisions like this can be scary because you’re out of your comfort zone or maybe you’re changing gears, and you’re taking a pay cut. I compared B2B vs. B2C, and the truth is few people consider B2B a bad choice in the end. B2C makes it hard to differentiate yourself and hard to grow. But don’t just take my word for it. I spoke with my friend Chad who started out in B2C as a door-to-door knife salesman and left it because “It sucked.”


Kids coming out of college today do so with non-marketable degrees (history, physics, etc.) that require further degrees to be employable. And when they don’t know what to do they end up in B2C sales where there’s not much growth. Chad calls them “stair step degrees” or degrees that should be minors because your major degrees need to be applicable in the real world.


People end up in sales for one of two reasons, because they want to make money or because they don’t know what else to do. Few people come out of college or grow up wanting to be a salesperson. But the thing is, we’re the creators of businesses. I was a software developer who worked hard but wasn’t fantastic at it. I got into sales by pushing my way through and while they had classes on the technique they didn’t teach anything about how companies buy and make decisions. And that’s the key to B2B sales and what sets it apart from the tactics in B2C.


So, how do you get good at B2B if you’re switching over?


There’s a thought complexity in your ability to think three dimensionally with prospect needs that create a level of variability that does not exist in B2C. You have to scale your efforts and be self-aware if you can exist in a scaling environment or not. Today people are talking about it like it’s the simple sale: elevator pitch that gets you a half hour of someone’s time. But you need to know what someone does and doesn’t know. How do you know someone’s business better than they do? Explore their interests, don’t provoke them. Your salespeople need to have an expanse of knowledge without provoking people. It’s a skill to have and a tactic to pull out when someone doesn’t see the need for a sale.


“We had a joke that the best sales guys are the ones that are leveraged,” according to Chad, because lifestyle often eats up the base salary in B2B. The quality of life is 9-5, you travel, you’re in an office, you’ve got benefits, and these things don’t exist in the B2C space. There's no security. That space is going to be so disrupted by the internet and technology. In B2B, when you’re good, you really stand out while it’s incredibly hard to stand out in B2C. Chad pointed out: “I can’t remember the last time I was in the grocery store--thank you Instacart.” The people you counted on to come into your store and buy things aren’t coming in anymore. Everything you buy you get on Amazon Prime and have it at your front door a day later.


“There will be two types of people: those that are told what to do by robots and those that tell robots what to do.”


You also need to be multifaceted in your approach. There’s a lack of insight in sales reps who will think only about email, or only about phone calls, or only about pitches and don’t think about how those tactics exist in a multichannel relationship. You could have a conversation with someone on LinkedIn or Facebook based on a social relationship based exclusively on shared interest, and suddenly you see they have a need or an opening and you have an established relationship to build off of before you go in and try to sell to them.


B2B has so many avenues and the resources to continue thrive and scale while B2C is a dying breed about to be eaten up by technology. So if you’re in the market and deciding between these two career paths, you know which one has a future and gives your abilities more versatility and growth.


Let me know your thoughts and some stories of your own about B2B and B2C experiences you’ve had and if they match up to what we’ve said here. Like and share and if you want to learn more about why B2B is the future all salespeople should strive for checking out my PodCast “The Brutal Truth About Sales & Selling.”


Thanks for stopping by,


Brian

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