Business Glossary

What is B2B?

Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.

What does B2B mean?

B2B stands for business-to-business and is the name given to businesses that sell or market to other businesses rather than to an individual consumer.

It could be a manufacturer selling a product to a wholesaler or a wholesaler selling to a retailer. It could also be one business selling software or services to another business. For example, payment processing services or a freelance graphic designer who creates logos and branding for companies.

Businesses may segment what they do and who they sell to as part of their marketing strategy – how they will prospect B2B customers will be different to how they market to business-to-consumer (B2C) customers.

Getting to grips with B2B

Business-to-business sales are common across all industries and can involve the procurement of raw materials to create a finished product. Some companies, also known as B2B companies, focus purely on B2B sales. Some only sell their products to the consumer, some will conduct a mixture of B2B and B2C sales.

With B2B, the value of each transaction is generally much higher than in consumer transactions because businesses buy in much larger quantities and have the financial capacity to buy higher priced goods.

B2B selling

The selling process for B2B is often different to B2C. A B2C transaction is a fairly rapid process with sales taking place and money exchanging hands immediately. As the buyer is an individual, they have the power and capacity to make instant decisions about a purchase and to act fast.

In contrast, B2B markets may involve multiple levels of buyers, a bidding process or committees of buyers who make the decisions. This process can take many weeks or even months depending on the company involved.

B2B marketing

The way a company markets its products or services will be different depending on whether it’s targeting other companies or individual customers. While B2B and B2C strategies will have many similarities such as using automated email marketing, the way they promote things will vary according to the audience. A company may even create a strategy for each market and then segment those markets even further into industry-specific SMEs and large nationals, for example.

With B2B marketing you’re promoting what you sell to buyers within an organisation working on behalf of that organisation. For the individual customer you’re appealing to their unique, specific needs.

A business-to-business customer is focused on ROI, efficiency and expertise while a single consumer looks for deals and entertainment. B2B marketing will naturally be more business-benefit oriented while B2C will be more fun.

Frequently asked questions about B2B

What is B2B, B2C and C2C?

As we’ve said, B2B is business-to-business sales and B2C is business-to-consumer sales. C2C is another category and refers to customer-to-customer sales where individuals sell to each other using a third-party platform, such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

What are the four types of business-to-business?

In B2B markets there are effectively four types of sellers or customers:

  1. Producers
  2. Resellers
  3. Government
  4. Institutions.

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