Square Peg, Round Hole: Why the B2B CRM is Failing B2C Marketers

Ask a sales or marketing manager to name the one tool they’re unable to live without and they will almost unanimously tell you a quality, customized CRM. Ask them which tool causes them the most grief and there’s a good chance you’ll get the same answer.

A CRM is the backbone of any organization because it allows for the management and analyzation of leads, customers and accounts for the purpose of improving business relationships, reducing churn and increasing customer retention. However, all CRM systems are not created equal.

Today most B2C marketers are using CRM systems designed to manage the B2B sales funnel, not the B2C marketing funnel. The objectives, inputs and outputs are unique to each system, creating roadblocks for marketers who are using a system that is not tailored to their needs. CRM systems grew out of a need for sales reps to manage the stages of a sales opportunity from start to finish. But the customer-focused marketing funnel is very different, and requires a distinct system to manage each customer relationship for the entire lifecycle. Hence the advent of the B2C CRM.

So what are some of the key differentiators between a B2B and B2C that suggests a different CRM is necessary for each type of business?

Database Size & Structure

Since most B2B companies are focused on nurturing business relationships, there is less focus on the number of contacts and more focus on individual accounts. As a result these databases are by nature smaller and structured as a hierarchy of accounts and pipeline opportunities. B2C companies typically have larger databases and the focus is typically on selling to segments of customers based on any number of attributes from buying behavior or demographics to engagement metrics or customer score.

Sales Volume & Sales Cycles

B2C businesses normally have a higher volume of sales but usually at a lower price while B2B businesses generally have large one-time purchase with the hopes of continued sales over a longer period of time. Additionally, B2C purchases are often quick decisions, sometimes happening in a matter of moments, while B2B businesses have a longer sales cycle with various pipeline stages.

Communication Strategy

A B2B CRM with email capabilities is customized so that sales or marketing can send and track personalized email communications as a way to nurture their leads. A B2C business has the same needs but normally on a much grander scale and across multiple marketing and buying channels. Though still customized, B2C businesses are likely emailing large segments of customers from various online and offline systems like point of sale or ecommerce. Interaction is less direct than B2B and is driven by promotions, product updates or events and may leverage mobile messaging, mobile app, direct mail, or digital ads in addition to email.

Psychology of the Sale

B2C sales are sometimes spontaneous purchases made in the moment with the decision to purchase being made by one person. On the other hand, B2B business purchases are business decisions that are often made by multiple decision makers and can take months or even years.


Investing in the Future

With the increasing amount of customer data available and myriad of ways to use it, a B2C CRM has to be built to handle not only what’s needed today, but what will be possible tomorrow.

  • Architecture: A good B2C CRM system has the right APIs and integrations in place in order to bring all available customer data onto one system and update it in real time, versus batch processing.
  • Types of Data: Beyond first party data, the ideal system can ingest behavioral data and as well as third party data in order to present a clear picture of who the customer is, what they’re doing now and what they are going to do next.
  • Communication: To capitalize on engagement opportunities, the ability to act on new information quickly is critical. Systems must be able to either manage outbound communication or integrate with outside systems to send or suppress messages.
  • Lifecycle Management: Rather than focusing on acquisition and closing the first sale, a CRM needs to be focused on optimizing customer lifetime value before, during and after the purchase.

Replacing the central most system in the business can be costly, time consuming and anxiety inducing, but the inherent differences between the B2B and B2C models are clear, as are the limitations of many CRMs. Trying to retrofit the modern, multichannel customer journey into a sales CRM not only limits functionality, it is frustrating and wastes a lot of time and effort that should be focused on effectively managing customer relationships.

Start using a CRM designed for marketers. Talk to our team and see how Clutch’s B2C CRM can make your life easier, your marketing more effective and your customers more loyal.

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