B2B salespeople are looking to talk to people that influence or make decisions for business purchases.
Businesses do not make decisions. People make decisions on behalf of businesses. And outside of some trusts run by lawyers following the direction of legal documents, this has always been the case.
So why all the fuss about B2B being B2P (business to person)?
The problem with the current B2P mantra is you risk forgetting just who these people are. (Maybe not you, but some B2B marketer will). They are corporate decision makers, entrusted with significant budgets and their career opportunities may turn on the decisions or recommendations they make.
What makes these people different?
They Make Bigger Decisions
There is more resting on business decisions than on personal decisions. Consider buying a home: a huge personal decision, but until recent low interest rates and home buying booms, a common rule of thumb was that a mortgage should be no more than 2x your income.
If a business decision impacts a career, positively or negatively, the impact over a career is far bigger than a mortgage. These are big decisions!
They Make Group Decisions
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have a discussion about what type of toilet paper or toothpaste we buy in our house. And there certainly will not be a committee meeting about it, an opportunity and risk assessment or a debrief following the purchase.
In contrast, major business purchases often go through the ringer. They are vetted through committees, negotiated with procurement, risk assessed, and budgeted. Multi-million dollar expenditure decisions are not made lightly.
Marketing in this environment is not about one person. Marketing must address the perspectives of multiple influencers, meet a range of requirements and anticipate questions and objections. You need to remove rational barriers to a recommendation and win internal champions for your solution.
They Buy Complex Products
Not many people try to decipher the ingredients on a toothpaste label, understand what their purpose is and if they are safe. Few of us are experts in toothpaste.
Enterprise B2B is different, the products and solutions are complex and need to be understood. Stakeholders are often experts in the business, a functional disciple (ie IT) or in the solution category (ie CRM). Further, these areas require expertise.
When we bought a car recently, certainly a complex product, the most complicated “integration” requirement was that it could fit three car seats. In contrast, the cost, complexity and feasibility of integration with existing systems and business processes is a key consideration for enterprise purchases. Determining the cost and complexity of integration is not trivial.
In B2B, products and requirements are complex.
B2B marketers, you are marketing to people and that hasn’t changed. Do not forget who those people are, the magnitude of the decisions they are making, the expertise they have, and the buying process they are working within.
What is your view on Business to Person (B2P) marketing? Is this a major change in B2B marketing, a new label for what good B2B marketers have always recognized, or bad advice that can lead B2B marketing astray? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).