I, @Mario Lenz, have been working in B2B environments all my career, more specifically in Enterprise B2B. This chapter will discuss a number of aspects that distinguish B2B from B2C.
B2B, or "business-to-business", encompasses all companies that create products and services geared toward other businesses compared to B2C ("business-to-consumer") which serve individual consumers directly.
There are also more complex forms, such as B2B2C: https://www.opentable.com/ is a good example — they help restaurants (the 2nd B) to serve consumers.
A company is active in Enterprise B2B when the businesses they are serving are primarily large, often international companies. Note that for startups or even growth stage companies this means that their customers are typically 100x or even 1000x larger then them. It’s easy to imagine how this imbalance brings challenging situations, e.g., during discussions or negotiations.
<aside> 💡 Enterprise B2B has much less data than B2C.
In B2C, there is a large number of potential users, networks effects can be exploited easily, many problems are easy to understand, and the single individual user is less relevant. As a consequence, so-called A/B testing is both easy as well as meaningful.
By contrast, in B2B there are fewer users with typically more specific problems which might require domain expertise. Also, every single user might be a valuable stakeholder or decision maker.
<aside> 💡 Enterprise B2B is Sales-led, not Product-led.
Being product-led is a new hype in B2C.
Product-Led Growth is defined as a go-to-market strategy that relies on using your product as the main vehicle to acquire, activate, and retain customers. If you’ve used Slack or Dropbox, you’ve witnessed this first-hand-you didn’t read a lengthy whitepaper on the benefits of strong internal communication or cloud-based file sharing. You wanted to see the product in action!
But selling to an enterprise almost always requires a direct sales team who build up relationships with the customer have an extensive network inside and outside these organizations. Also, in enterprises many stakeholders and gatekeepers are involved in the buying decision — and they care about aspects such as compliance with official obligations as well as company policies, security in terms of IT as well as security of their investment, integration aspects, operations, SLAs etc. In other words, while consumers quickly buy products paying via their personal PayPal account:
No enterprise company is buying a global CRM with their credit card.
Consequently, a well-educated and skilled sales team will be a primary business driver in Enterprise B2B as opposed to offering some flexible plans and trials in B2C and then waiting for the product to go viral.
<aside> 💡 Enterprise B2B has long sales cycles.
Sales in B2C is often very quick, direct and low-budget. The buyer is also the user, it's often a quick and low risk decision, ideally even with a plan that allows 14 days trial or otherwise short cancellation periods.
In B2B, sales cycles often are 6 or more months which means there is no immediate effect or feedback on a feature or product release but rather a substantial delay.
As a consequence, B2B customers beyond the current feature set often also want to know about the strategy of the provider and future plans. Public roadmaps, when communicated wisely and shared with care, turn out to be highly useful.