B2B is actually very soft

IBM Q

I am not a fan of the B2B / B2C division. I prefer to classify products, brands, and companies by the purchase decision, not customer legal definition. My preferred classification is:
1) Cheap and simple products with an impulsive purchase decision;
2) Expensive and complex products with a slow purchase decision.

It is wrong to assume that all B2C is cheap and simple and all B2B is expensive and complex. Both consumers and businesses make both types of decisions. So, although I used B2B in the title, the real title of this article should be: Expensive and complex products sale is actually very soft.

Common assumption is that expensive and complex products are sold dominantly with hard values. This means that customers evaluate the product, measure it, and make an informed and objective decision to purchase or not. This is not true.

Reality is that expensive and complex products are sold within a fierce competition in which all competitors offer the same hard values. Today it is very rare to find competitions in which a company wins with a unique hard value. Even if such a competition exists, the unique hard value would soon be copied.

Therefore, decision to purchase an expensive and complex product is not influenced by hard values. It is influenced by soft values because only they make the difference. Hard values are a minimum requirement to participate in the competition and are shared by all competitors. Soft values are not shared, and can be unique and more competitive.

Hard products, companies, and brands compete very much with soft values but they do not like to formalize it. Their culture prioritizes engineering and science, but informally they compete with soft values.

Examples of slow purchase decision soft values are: innovation, local presence, support, personal understanding, service speed, preciseness, technical authority, design quality.

Written by: Nikola Tosic
Publishing date: 20 Aug 2018