Tweak Your Biz » Marketing » Understanding the B2B Customer

Understanding the B2B Customer



In last month’s post, I discussed the thought process of B2C (Business to Consumer) customers. Today, we’re going to look at how B2B (Business to Business) customers think.

Hands up if you think that the B2B and B2C consumer are the same…
Customers are customers you say?
Well, yes they are, but it may surprise you to find that they both think completely differently when purchasing a product or service.

Making decisions

Jot this one down!
Business decisons are planned and will deal with a business ‘need’ as opposed to a ‘want’.

The DMU for a business is much bigger and broader – enterprises can consist of a researcher,a line manager, a few team members for collaboration, and a senior person or director. That’s a large number of people to please, and each of them will have their own idea of what they want. They will also have different approaches.

What catches the eye of the ‘researcher’ may well be removed as an option by the line manager. When researching a service or product, a reseracher will be given a set of points – It must include XYZ, it must comply with XYZ, it must cost less that XYZ. If it fails on any of these points, it is cast aside. This way of searching is limiting and robotic. It removes the obvious ‘no goes’ and uncovers the first batch of contenders.

As you move along to decision maker, the criteria becomes tighter. What makes you stand out from the last chosen few?

In marketing terms…

Where will they research you – your website, your web presense, the CRO database, Goldenpages, call the office, call your customers, check your Facebook page or Twitter feed, your blogs maybe. They might ask your current or past customers about you.

Make sure all of these platforms and entries are up to date, optimised and promote your business in an honest way.

If you have a website, blog or social media profile – then state what you are offering, plus benefits and a way of contacting you at a glance. If you have a ready presentation, share it! LinkedIn allows you to integrate a Slideshare presentation plus blog.

Your reputation is more imporatant than you know. If you make it past the researcher and line manager, then we’re down to specifics and your unique selling points will come into play here.

Here is where you score extra points :

  • Quick customer response – do you answer calls and emails straight away?
  • Can you organise a salesperson to set up a meeting and forge relations instantly?
  • Have you checked and responded to reviews and negative comments?
  • Do you have a presentation uploaded and ready to share,view or download?
  • Have you highlighted businesses you have worked with?
  • Do you have blog posts to show you have the expertise they need?
  • Have you listed the benefits of your service and why a customer should work with you?

Priorities

Priorities for businesses are much more practical and tend to concentrate on business benefits, the fuctional aspects, the return on investment and its appeal. A business will rarely buy on a wim or sign an agreement without scoping out all the options and discussing these with other members of staff. Catchy ads and competitions are not as appealing as you might think to businesses.

The basic priorities are cost, time-frame, support and maintence. Depending on the product or service, location and element of risk can also play a role.

In marketing terms…

Know your product or service. Know the capabilities, the technical aspects and most importantly, its usefulness for a business. If you are in sales and the enquirer has a question that is more technical than your own knowledge, then pass on the question to a techical member of staff and relay the response back to the enquirer. Knowledge is powerful and a particular feature could sway the deal.

Be clear on costs and how the product or service needs to be managed or maintained. If it requires support, is there an additional cost? Does the customer need training? Are there legal obligations. A company will worry about these for sure.

Have ROI, graphs and case studies available. Detail what you have achieved for other companies. These are all gold for businesses.

Referrals

Referrals are usually other businesses and reputable companies or those that the company networks with.

It is not uncommmon for the first or second stage of selection to simply ask others who they use. Bigger companies tend to opt for suppliers who have worked with other larger companies.

In marketing terms…

Keep on top of reviews and any online mention for that matter. Showcase the good AND the bad, and respond to all the negative ones. One negative review can do surprising damage, even if you have over 80% of positive ones.  Include reviews on your website to save people searching for them. Some businesses like these to be included with each product. Others like to distribute across the website. Add Reviews to your Facebook page so fans can read them.

Costs

When it comes to cost, the company pays. All costs have to be accounted for and can be much higher than consumer purchases. Because of cost, business decisions have a longer time-frame on the whole. A business would much rather delay a project than make an impulsive choice. That being said, some purchases are neccessary and so a decision pay have to take place with some compromise on both sides.

In marketing terms…

Cost is always a sticky subject. As a supplier or provider, you want as much money as you can get. The business wants to pay as little as possible. Pulling in opposite directions will not help.

Research your competitors and compare what you are offering against what they are offering. Whatever price you choose, it needs to be justified. When a business asks, you can easily provide an answer. Never, never think the customer will not walk away. They will! In a heartbeat if they feel that you are rigid on price. Half the fun is bartering a sale.

The trick I find is to instigate interest. When you have them caught, then ease cost into the equation and watch their reaction. Start slightly high and if they’re not convinced, drop by a %. Do we all not love an offer or a discount? A business is no different. This is called compromise. Don’t drop to a point whereby you are not profiting in some way – be honest, be fair and calculate the lowest figure that you will be satified with.

Any tips for selling/appealing to businesses?
What works for you?



The Author:

Christina is a complete geek, hence a perfect web + online marketing consultant. After ten years working with Premier Recruitment Group, LA Fitness, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Travel and a host of other companies, she now owns CG Online Marketing (www.cgonlinemarketing.com) in Ireland and is an associate of the Ahain Group. She's qualified in most things online such as web server management, digital design, Google Analytics and SEO. Specialties: Social Media Marketing, SEO / PPC,Google analytics (qualified in GA IQ) Web trends + insights, Data segmentation and targeting, Customer Behavior analysis, Digital design, Writing, Ethical marketing Green marketing / Sustainable tourism and Hotel + travel online marketing http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Christina, I think the b2bu00a0environment hasu00a0changed radically in lastu00a0numberu00a0of years. Risk avoidance is now the number one motivator along with need to play to the internal politics within the business. As regards making the business case, it’s now has to be short-term focused andu00a0demonstrate a clear line to new customers/sales.u00a0u00a0u00a0n

  • Derbhile

    The point about reputation is an interesting one. We often don’t realise how much we’re being watched.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    It seems to constantly evole Niall, which means that the mindset of businesses selling to other businesses, has to too. There are plenty of changes legally, like payment agreements, ownship, content sharing and data protection – each aligns with risk. Risk and reputation are clear concerns, and its unsurprising, given the current climate and technological advancements. nnI ahve to admit, short-term arrangements, trials, ROI measurments and more flexible solutions are definately being persued. Trust has to be earned and results must be proven.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    It seems to constantly evole Niall, which means that the mindset of businesses selling to other businesses, has to too. There are plenty of changes legally, like payment agreements, ownship, content sharing and data protection – each aligns with risk. Risk and reputation are clear concerns, and its unsurprising, given the current climate and technological advancements. nnI ahve to admit, short-term arrangements, trials, ROI measurments and more flexible solutions are definately being persued. Trust has to be earned and results must be proven.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    It seems to constantly evole Niall, which means that the mindset of businesses selling to other businesses, has to too. There are plenty of changes legally, like payment agreements, ownship, content sharing and data protection – each aligns with risk. Risk and reputation are clear concerns, and its unsurprising, given the current climate and technological advancements. nnI ahve to admit, short-term arrangements, trials, ROI measurments and more flexible solutions are definately being persued. Trust has to be earned and results must be proven.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    ‘Tis true Derbhile. We are constantly being watched, monitored and discussed! You imagine the amount of written and multi-media content we share daily. We may be able to track mentions, shares and website stats, but there are still gaps. We’ve seen a number of examples where businesses tripped up and tainted their reputations. We’ve seen professional publically slaughtered for content that ‘leaked’. However, reputation management can ensure we assess before we publish, and crisis management can deal with the aftermath.

  • http://www.ThePoised.com Thom Holland

    Hey Niall:nnInteresting comments regarding the changes in the b2b environment and internal politics.nnDo you think the size of the business makes a difference?

  • http://www.tweakyourbiz.com Niall Devitt

    Yes it does! A smaller business typically means less people involved in the decision making process so internal politics is usually less of an issue, however the focus often tends to be even more short term because they are concentrated on survival rather than growth.

  • http://twitter.com/gianniponzi Gianni Ponzi

    As you say, there’s a definite difference between how one interacts in b2b versus b2c but in the end I personally believe that both relationships thrive on attentive, personal service. nnTop on my list is again something you have alluded to. Speedy replies to queries or commitments.nnBy that, I don’t mean a speedy reply just for the sake of it but one that has some value for the (potential) customer.

  • http://www.authopublisher.com ivin

    Quick responses are very important in both B2B and B2C relations, butu00a0the businesses, in particular, need to not only hear or read about youru00a0qualifications, but see you rising up to them as well.u00a0

  • Indian exporters

    Your blog is packed with great information, thanks for sharing so much. Given the availability of advanced features of B2B marketing automation vendors, and given the difference between B2B and B2C you pointed out, which of the B2B demand generation products might be best adapted to B2C use.
    Indian exporters

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Hi, Could you explain what you’re asking? Are you asking my opinion on the best products?

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Very true Ivin. The proof is in the practice.

  • http://www.cgonlinemarketing.com/ Christina Giliberti

    Value is extremely important for the customer. When money is tight, ROI and added value is what customers are looking for.