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What Are the Differences Between a B2B and B2C Sales Director?

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June 17, 2022Executive Search Functional Roles Interview Tips

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The modern sales landscape is moving faster than ever, with multiple channels vying for your customers' attention. Digital technology helps you get closer to your audience, but your competitors are right there next to you.

When it comes to carving out your market share and driving revenue at your startup or tech company, you need an experienced Sales Director to spearhead your efforts. This senior executive takes responsibility for defining your sales strategy, leading the sales team and optimizing the selling process to generate results.

The skills you're looking for in your next hire depend on your product and target market.

  • A business-to-business (B2B) Sales Director sells to companies to support their business operations.
  • A business-to-consumer (B2C) Sales Director sells to individual customers for personal use.

B2B and B2C Sales Directors have similar responsibilities. They both need to gain a thorough understanding of their customers to determine the right messaging and shape selling tactics for growing sales over time. They may oversee a team of regional managers, account executives and sales representatives.

The sales approaches differ, however, depending on whether your target audiences are businesses or individual consumers. Read on to learn about the responsibilities of B2B and B2C Sales Directors and the characteristics that inspire success in these roles.

What Does a B2B Sales Director Do?

B2B decision-makers are making purchases that impact an organization and its bottom line, and tend to be more deliberate in their approach than individual consumers. Buyers must take into account profit margins, efficiencies, and benefits to their own clients. There may be a group of managers responsible for the purchasing decision, and a preset list of criteria to satisfy.

A successful B2B Sales Director will be adept at:

Identifying key decision makers to approach. Businesses have different organizational structures, and your chances of success are better if you find the right person to pitch.

Delivering presentations at all levels of a company. Your Sales Director may have to present to a board of directors, C-suite executives, managers and teams, internally and externally.

Negotiating contracts. Prices often vary for B2B clients depending on customization, volume and terms negotiated. A Sales Director maximizes value for the client while boosting the company's profitability.

Retaining customers. While B2B clients have a longer sales cycle, they tend to order more frequently and at a higher volume once on board. Retaining clients, upselling and growing accounts over time is critical for growth, especially for companies that rely on a subscription sales model.

Top 5 Characteristics of a B2B Sales Director

While you might find a candidate with the right experience and credentials, certain soft skills are also needed for this important sales leadership role. Many successful B2B Sales Directors are:

  1. Confident communicators. Whether pitching a roomful of C-suite executives to land a contract or inspiring a sales team to hit quarterly targets, a successful Sales Director delivers messages with finesse, persuading people to get on board.
  2. Adaptable. A company may have a wide range of B2B buyers, all with different personalities and needs. A successful sales director responds in the moment, tailoring approaches to different buyer personas and pivoting as needed to address concerns.
  3. Strong relationship builders. B2B Sales Directors genuinely enjoy interacting with people by phone, online or in-person. They're adept at putting people at ease, making buyers feel understood and earning their trust.
  4. Determined. A successful Sales Director thrives on the art of selling, and consistently looks for ways to improve, whether they're finding new sales opportunities, streamlining processes or tweaking sales campaigns.
  5. Motivational. A good leader knows that selling is a group effort, and finds ways to bring out the best in all members of the sales team.

What Does a B2C Sales Director Do?

B2C companies sell to individual consumers who usually make the buying decision on their own, often dealing with customer service representatives instead of dedicated account managers. Because pricing is simple with little to no negotiation, the B2C sales cycle is faster. However, order volume and frequency tends to be lower, and competition can be fierce.

A B2C Sales Director is responsible for:

Building sales strategies to reach customers. Individual consumers make purchases for a variety of reasons: emotion, desire, branding and cost. The Sales Director works closely with marketing to decide how to appeal to audiences, choosing the right channels and method of communication.

Leveraging data. Sales Directors need to be data-driven, collecting information at every customer touch point to help inform sales strategies. This knowledge is then used to personalize experiences, improving customer retention and repeat purchases.

Optimizing sales channels. With so many competitors just a click away, a B2C Sales Director must streamline the purchasing process to make conversion as easy as possible. This involves reducing friction on digital platforms and ensuring stellar customer support and well-trained sales representatives.

Top 5 Characteristics of a B2C Sales Director

B2C Sales Directors should bring a strong track record to the table, but certain attributes can further their chance of success. Here are key characteristics to look for when hiring for this role:

  1. Data-driven mindset. The best way to learn about customer preferences and behaviors is to track their interactions with your company through data. A B2C Sales Director should be naturally drawn to the numbers, analyzing statistics to refine sales approaches.
  2. Strategic thinker. Successful B2C Sales Directors can see the big picture and how market developments and competitive trends affect a business. They know how these factors affect sales, and can strategize ways to take advantage of opportunities or proactively stave off challenges for market share.
  3. Detail-oriented. While a Sales Director needs to look at the big picture, the small details also need to fall into place. This role demands someone who can plan end-to-end sales strategies, oversee execution of multiple projects, prioritize resources and ensure campaigns move forward smoothly.
  4. Creative. In a highly competitive market, companies have to establish connections with customers and keep their attention. A creative Sales Director brings fresh ideas to the table to engage customers and help a product and brand stand out.
  5. Energized. Successful Sales Directors enjoy their work and are always looking to push growth. They actively look for ways to do better, and inspire their team to do the same.

B2B and B2C Sales Director Roles in Tech Companies

Businesses selling software applications, cloud services and other technology have a unique challenge compared to traditional businesses. Not only is there a high level of competition, with new innovations coming to market all the time, but the decision-making process for buyers is less intuitive.

Sales Directors at B2B tech companies must clearly understand their product and make the features as clear as possible to potential clients. In this way, they act like consultants, spending time asking questions, determining pain points and recommending solutions. B2B Sales Directors absorb and impart a great deal of complex information, and work with technical teams to customize solutions.

B2C Sales Directors face a similar challenge, selling new and innovative products customers may not even know they need or want. Tech companies need effective selling strategies for every stage of the buyer journey, emphasizing features and differentiating the product from competitors. Digital platforms have to be optimized to convert, and sales teams need to be educated and provided with tools to successfully drive revenue.

How B2B and B2C Sales Directors Help Startups to Scale

The Sales Director role is especially critical in startups that are positioning themselves for rapid growth. They're tasked with building the company's sales foundation from scratch and ensuring it's solid enough for scaling.

A B2B Sales Director lays this initial groundwork by precisely identifying target markets, creating sales scripts and testing tactics to determine what works best. The sales team is lean at this stage of operations, so much of the hands-on work, such as discovery calls, is performed by the Sales Director. This B2B sales leader meets prospective clients, gathers insight on which tactics are most successful, and refines sales approaches accordingly. As processes fall into place and the company grows, the Sales Director then recruits and trains a sales team to accelerate growth, ensuring targets are hit as the company scales.

A B2C Sales Director performs market research to understand customer trends and needs, determining the best channels to find target audiences. This role relies heavily on data, and involves collecting information and feedback from as many customers as possible to improve sales strategies and tactics. The Sales Director also sets benchmarks and chooses appropriate metrics, finding ways to reduce churn and improve customer lifetime value. A solid tech stack featuring CRM, analytics software and sales automation tools are put into place to help with scaling.

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Kristin Bachman avatarKristin Bachman