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3 Ways B2B is Different from B2C

Business-to-business sales are different from business-to-consumer sales.

First, the deal size in business-to-business opportunities tends to be much, much greater. That’s a pretty simple difference.

Second, with the greater deal size comes greater complexity. When we sell to consumers there is typically a single decision-maker. Sometimes if it’s a major B2C sale, there may be multiple decision-makers. It may be a couple, and they may decide to make a purchase together.

But in business-to-business sales, it can be much more complex. You often have to build consensus across a much greater number of stakeholders. Those stakeholders tend to have conflicting needs. And they tend to have different needs when it comes to the value that you create for them. The stages are longer. And sales processes is much more important.

The biggest difference is probably the fact that a B2B sale is much more strategic. When you sell business-to-business you are becoming part of your client’s value chain. Here’s an example: I shipped using UPS. ships using UPS. If I have a problem with UPS, I can easily switch to FedEx or the United States Postal Service. But that doesn’t work for If they have a problem with UPS, they have a problem with their business model. The deal is much more strategic, and UPS is much more deeply ingrained in their value proposition.

You can watch me riff on this with Gerhard from Selling Power at We’re going to a series of videos like these, and like this one, we want to answer your questions and give you a place to add your contribution to the discussion. Join us over there and leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Here’s a link to the video on YouTube.

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  • Robert Terson

    An excellent article and video, Anthony, and your take on the differences between the B2B & B2C sale is spot on; however…even a B2C “simple” sale can become quite complex in a sense when the presentation is being delivered to five, six, seven, etc. individuals around a conference-room table. If I had a dollar for every situation like that, that I encountered in my 40 years of selling advertising to small businesses, you and I could have another great dinner at Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse. I thought your football analogy in the video was terrific! I often had my salespeople role-play; we did a lot of that and it helped significantly. I’d heartedly recommend to salespeople that they come “off the field” and do some roleplaying. It’ll make a difference when they go back “onto the field.”

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for your thoughtful contribution here, Bob! I’ll take you up on dinner next time I’m in Chicago!

  • Frances Mote

    I found the part about becoming part of your client’s value chain quite compelling. I recently closed a B2B deal with a company, with 5 key stakeholders, and man, do they each have different priorities, often in conflict. I wonder how one could suss that out in a better way during the sales process.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      How’d you do it in your five stakeholder deals, Frances? Can you share your thoughts?