To B2B or B2C Product Manager?

Both B2B (Business-to-Business) product manager and B2C (Business-to-Consumers) product manager are responsible for managing their products throughout its lifecycle.  However, their day-to-day work can be very different. So whose job is better?

Note: while there are B2B products that are sold in large volumes, and are similar in some aspects to B2C products, I refer here to B2B products that are more complex and are sold to a smaller number of very big customers at a high price.  
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Data, BIG Data

The number of customers of a B2B product is usually in dozens, hundreds or in the better case thousands, while a B2C product can have millions or even billions of customers. A B2B Product Manager who wants to get market feedback in advance can speak with friendly customers (and hope their opinions represent the market) or conduct a survey (hoping that the number of respondents is sufficient and that their answers represent reality).

A B2C Product Manager has a more direct exposure to the market. For example, a B2C Product Manager that manages a cloud-based service can use multiple versions and conduct AB testing to check which UX is more efficient, or to set different prices in order to see which price works better.

The strategic customer bear hug

In B2C, the average deal size is small. You need many deals to generate significant revenue. In B2B, one customer (or a few) can generate a significant percentage of your revenue.

The upside for a B2B Product Manager is that a few good deals can make your product profitable. However, having a small number of customers make them strategic for your product success. As a result, the B2B Product Manager is under pressure to develop custom features for the important customers, which may distract the product from its course and may make it a custom solution that meets the needs of specific customers, but is not relevant for the rest of the market.

Who buys your product?

In B2B, the product users are not usually the buyer. Furthermore, as the purchase decision has to be approved by multiple people in the buying organization, the B2B Product Manager should take into consideration (besides the user) the buyer and other influencers who are critical to the sales process.

Customer relationships

B2B Product Managers maintains close relationship with customers. It can start from presales meetings and continue in ongoing face-to-face meetings and calls throughout the product life cycle, before and after launch.

B2C Product Managers usually do not know their customer. They can hold focus groups, run surveys and interviews to learn their customers’ point of view, but they do not, usually, have ongoing relationship with them.

Your daily activities

Both B2B Product Managers and B2C Product Managers write product definitions, prioritize features and work with other teams (technical, sales, marketing) to bring the product to the market.

If you are a B2C Product Manager, you usually start your day checking the latest analytics to see what works well and what should be improved and you continuously plan AB tests to optimize the user experience. If you are a B2B Product Manager, you invest more time in customers meeting/calls and work closely with the sales team to obtain market info.

So, which job is better?

At the end of the day, it is a personal preference. If you prefer longer cycles, like to develop relationships with your customers and work closely with the sales team, you may enjoy more managing a B2B product. If you like analyzing statistical data and are focused on user experience, you may enjoy more managing a B2C product.

As a Product Manager, you do not have to select either B2B or B2C. In order to be able to manage both B2B and B2C products, consider where you are on the B2B-B2C spectrum, and work on the skills required for the area you are less experienced in.