B2B customers are a special group. The decision-making process for B2B customers comes by way of multiple individuals, making the marketing process a bit trickier than selling to an a single decision maker. Board members, office managers, and financial advisors may all play a role in the decision to buy. B2B customers will take into consideration budget, timing, and need before making a purchase. Due to this unique decision-making process, the marketing approach must be different than a standard B2C sales pitch.
#1. Ask the right questions:
Each contact with a potential customer is going to look a little bit different. Asking the right questions does not look like an interrogation or a rapid fire survey, but rather finding a connection and gathering information over time. Approaching a potential customer with the goal of a quick sale can lead to a rushed sales pitch instead of a trustworthy connection. Here are some ideas:
- What are your corporate goals and values?
- Who is a part of your decision-making process?
- If our company were to deliver the perfect solution foryour business, what would it look like?
Asking the right questions is not difficult, but it does need to be prepared ahead of time. Choose the best and most effective, open-ended questions, those that will get to the heart of the need.
#2. Understand a customer’s need:
Gallup notes the difference in the definition of a B2B “customer”; due to the uniqueness of the joint decision-making process, when we refer to customers, we are really speaking of a buying center.Combine a unique customer type with the fact thatB2B products are specific to a need, and the process demands a different approach. Timing is key, as is making your B2B customers feel valued. The message your company sends needs to look and feel tailored to the needs of the audience.
This process takes time, and like any solid relationship, needs to be built on trust and a history of dependability. Gather information as you go in order to create a true profile of each customer you come into contact with.
#3. Tell a unique story:
The message your company conveys and the story it tells must look different than your competitors’. After researching Fortune 500 and DAX 30 companies, looking at top B2B companies and surveying hundreds of executives, McKinsey Insights found similar patterns of branding among companies. Honest and open dialogue was considered most important by customers, yet was not emphasized by 90 companies in the sample. What will it take for your company to develop a unique approach like these companies have accomplished?
- iQ Intel (personal and interesting stories)
- IBM (over 12,000 followers and a 4% engagement rate)
- Honeywell (over 20,000 likes and recently ranked as the #1 company page on Facebook)
Connecting with customers
At the recent Content2Conversion conference in Arizona, conference attendees tweeted the following quotes:
- Facts tell. Stories sell.
- It’s not about lots of new content. It’s about proactively serving content to the right segments.
- Marketers fail to humanize B2B content.
- Stir emotions to connect with buyers.
How your B2B company connects with potential customers will look different for each situation. With a marked effort at asking the right questions, understanding the need, and telling effective stories, you may find doors opening wide to a fresh customer base and new opportunities that are waiting to be seized.