You may think B2B and B2C communities are extremely different, but the overlap will surprise you. On our Aug. 14 #CMGRHangout, we talked to experts who have worked in both areas and see the differences and similarities.
Here are a few things to remember when working with B2B:
- The majority of the people you work with are acting on behalf of a business. Businesses can’t act on their own. They need people to interact. You need to treat these representatives like people. They have their own needs and levels of understanding. What you really want to do is make an interpersonal connection with the people that are acting on behalf of the business. That really helps them to represent their business and further your relationship with them.
- For a successful B2B relationship OR B2C relationship, you must maintain that connection throughout the course of the customer life cycle. That means being more directly accountable for adoption and for the success of the customer throughout the course of their time with you.
- Your company could make a shift from B2C to B2B, or vice versa. B2B objectives can be very unique, but you should treat the relationship with consumers as if they carry just as much weight as a big or small business does. The decision makers at companies are people, and consumers are people. If your company makes a shift and you have to go with them, you’ll survive (and might even enjoy it).
- If you’re hesitant to embark on B2B, remember that you could really love helping small businesses. Assisting small businesses in a B2B community can be amazingly fulfilling and inspirational. Some professionals who have switched from B2C to B2B have opted not to go back to B2C.
- If you work for an agency, you’ll likely get a good blend of both B2B and B2C. You’re often working with the consumer in community management conversations, but then you’re also working with the client to deliver the results of a campaign. There is a lot of overlap in best practices as you move back and forth.
- Even though it’s all about relationship building, companies are on a different time table than consumers. Small business owners might only have an hour at the end of the day when they’re not running their business to check on things. Just remember their time commitment, and to not be tone deaf about the fact that they’re small business owners and not consumers. Brick and mortar locations are often not as flexible and fast moving as an entrepreneur or individual consumer.
- With B2B, the stakes are higher. When you as an individual use an app or a tool, you may post something somewhere and get mad about it. If a business owner or a team member proposes an app to their team and that app fails, the stakes are so much higher. They could lose their job depending on the investment. They could lose face in front of their colleagues. When you’re doing business with B2B folks, help them succeed. Approach the situation like: “Here’s what we can do, but if these don’t fit your needs, our product might not be for you.” It’s a tough thing to say, but you might have to “fire the customer.” You want to help them do better business. Making that decision for them and tossing out some competitors builds trust.
- With B2B, remember that the person you’re talking to might not be the decision maker. The budget and product decisions may have already been made by someone else in advance, and the person you’re dealing with has very little flexibility. Be understanding of his/her situation and not pressuring.
Interacting with a B2B community may be different than a B2B, but there are challenges and joys that come with both types. Big thanks to our guests Alan Bush, Ally Greer, Trish Fontanilla, Krysta Gahagen and Berrak Sarikaya for joining the discussion!