When making the decision to pursue a career in sales, it's important to try and understand up front what industry you want to work in. Traditionally, sales professionals work in two industries, business to business sales (B2B) and business to consumer sales (B2C). Chris Newsham, Associate Director of Robert Walters sales recruitment division, insists that this decision shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“The skills required to work in either industry are quite different and moving between the two can be difficult so it’s well worth doing some research up front to ensure you make the right choice.”
Business to business (B2B) sales
B2B sales involves working for a company that sells to other businesses. The majority of B2B sales jobs are of a technical nature and involve selling complex products and/or services to businesses. It deals with a target market that stays in need of the products or services to keep that business moving.
This is the main point of difference between B2B and B2C sales jobs. The B2B sales market heavily relies on relationship selling and the sales are achieved in longer sales cycle compared to B2C sales.
Business to consumer (B2C) sales
B2C sales involves targeting an immense and diverse market, almost everyone is a potential customer unless you are selling to a niche group. B2C sales professionals sell to consumers who may need, want, and benefit or have enough money to purchase their product or service. If the product appeals to a person then they are a potential buyer, there is very little discrimination or requirements of a potential customer. Some popular B2C careers include property sales, auto sales and retail.
Due to the complex nature of the products and services being sold, B2B sales professionals often earn a higher income than B2C sales professionals. Those with specialised or trained knowledge needed to make the sale for a specific product or service will be highly successful, making a career in B2B sales partially to do with knowledge and not just about selling.
Professionals in a B2C environment tend to earn lower incomes as most things sold to this market are sold in a smaller scale or are individual sales for a particular product. Learning to deal with the customer service and the public at this level of selling can greatly develop your selling skills to represent high end and larger ticket selling items.
Education, experience and training
A career in B2B sales can require a tertiary education, more training and experience then a B2C sales job. Having the technical knowledge and relevant qualifications in the industry is generally a perquisite for B2B sales. For example, some medical and science students choose to take up pharmaceutical sales because they have the technical knowledge in this area.
Drawbacks of B2B and B2C
When it comes to B2B sales the main disadvantages are the limited prospects and how heavily affected it is by the economic climate of the industry they sell to. All B2B industries are going to be smaller markets when compared to the general public.
While not all B2C products are prepared with everyone in mind, as most products or services serve a “broad appeal” making the consumer base for B2C selling large and segmented. As a sales professional you must determine who needs your product or service get the attention of your prospective customer.
When choosing between a career in B2B or B2C sales comes down to where the sales person feels most passionate and where they can achieve the most fulfilment. Professionals who enjoy dealing with people on a professional level will do well in a B2B sale environment. Professionals who are typically a “people persons” would flourish dealing directly with people in a B2C environment.
Ultimately skills from both environments are used in both B2B and B2C but each to a higher degree in the respective field. Eventually it comes down to the sales professional’s skills set, goals, income needs and of course passion. Begin your search here by creating an account or search for the latest sales jobs in China.
Visit our career advice page for more information or contact one of our specialist consultants to help with finding your next role.