Generating B2B and B2C Leads

How can you generate increasing business leads with virtually the same product and services portfolio to two different target groups – B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer)?

To begin with, let’s look at the essential differences between the two. With B2C, you sell directly to the consumer and your potential customers are usually buying products and services for themselves or for close friends and family. They are the decision-makers themselves and are motivated by such factors as money-saving deals, comfort, convenience and aesthetics.  Quite often, they tend to make decisions on impulse. The B2B target group is far more complex.  Impulse buying is almost non-existent here. You are selling to a business which means a chain of command needs to be followed before a purchase can be completed. Typically, there are different layers within the organization, each with its own focus and priorities. It reminds us of the Indian folk tale about six blind men and the elephant. They seek to learn about this large and mysterious beast. None of them can see the large animal and are only able to touch and experience a part of the animal. So each one’s description differs vastly from another’s. Each one is convinced that his perception is the right one. In the B2B scenario also there are widely different perspectives. The finance manager sees things differently from the IT manager and the CEO has his own point-of-view.  B2B lead generation is complex because you have to consider selling to multiple decision-makers each with his or her own unique interests, needs and preferences. You have to identify each of these decision-makers and speak each person’s language.

Successful B2B selling involves far more time than B2C selling. A B2C sale can generally be closed in a few days, if not in one, whereas the buying cycle is far longer with the B2B target group. You have to know your prospect’s industry, its trends and budgetary constraints. You have to undertake in-depth research and know the competitive dynamics of your prospect’s industry and have an insight into how these dynamics influence purchase decisions. When lead generation is outsourced – such as with call centers – attention needs to be paid to training and skills development. CEOs, EVPs and IT managers expect to talk to people who know their industry, their company and its products.  This is critical to bringing buyers closer to the conversion edge.

Social media plays a vital role specially in B2B lead generation as it helps make your brand part of the social conversation.  It enables you to engage with new and existing customers on line, spark dialogue and generate a transaction.  All this involves commitment and investment of time and money. You need to develop a strategy for longterm nurturing of your prospect.

Key words are a valuable tool for both B2B and B2C lead generation. You need to develop a list of compelling and carefully targeted key words so potential buyers find your site, effectively navigate their way through your products and services and arrive at a purchasing decision that satisfies their needs. In the case of B2C lead generation, the key words should be such that a non-expert might use. Product features need to be translated into appealing consumer benefits.

For successful lead generation in the case of both B2B and B2C prospects what is essential is to craft a uniquely compelling message that addresses a perceived need and not get caught up in technical details. The art of persuasion remains all-important.

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