Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, ultimately you’re selling to a person and today’s buyers expect a personalized experience. The push for personalization is resulting in many B2B organizations leveraging some common B2C tactics – turning to social media, peer recommendations and available thought leadership content to gain control of their buying process and gather insights from their colleagues.
The 2015 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report shows that 55% of B2B buyers rely more on peer recommendations in their purchasing process than they did a year ago. Along with peer review, the report also shows that 53% are spending more time on social media researching vendors and solutions. More research and planning has led to a slightly longer and more educated purchasing cycle.
How to Make the B2B Customer Experience Memorable
So in the age of the educated purchaser, what should you be doing to stand out? Here are a few tips to personalize your B2B buying process with today’s sophisticated buyer (hint – it all boils back down to the experience):
- Make building your customer relationships the number one priority: Business buyers are people too. Just like a B2C buyer thoroughly researches a car before making the purchase, B2B buyers are doing complex research online and through peers on products before actually talking to a vendor. Make your presence known across multiple channels. Usually by the time they pick up the phone to call a vendor, they know what they want to buy and they’re ready to buy it. However, the final piece to any B2B buyer’s journey is to develop a relationship before signing the papers. Put your priority in developing the relationship with the decision maker and other influencers in the organization, build trust. Even after the purchase, ensure the customer knows they can come to you for advice. This relationship not only paves the way for long-term sales, but can serve as a differentiator when your customer’s peers are evaluating and researching new products of their own. If they go to your customer for suggestions, you know who will be at the top of their list.
- Align your sales and marketing to meet your customer needs: Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing functions enjoy 36% higher customer retention rates (according to MarketingProfs). The lack of communication and alignment between sales and marketing isn’t a new problem. However, as we move toward a new era in which digital reigns supreme with potential buyers being more informed now than ever, bridging the gap with a defined service level agreement (SLA) is imperative.
- Connect the customer to the brand: B2B purchase decisions are no longer just about maximizing business value. While features and functionality is great, it’s not necessarily the main key needed to impress potential customers. B2B customers are surprisingly almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value and 8 times more likely to pay a premium for comparable products and services when personal value is present (according to a study by think with Google). Building an emotional connection with your customer can drive important purchase outcomes in the future.
Personalize the Experience – Then Use Marketing Automation to Stay on Track
Overall, customer experience is part of every aspect of your business. While having tools in place such as marketing automation enables a better customer experience, it still takes you as the marketer or seller to create the experience and make it memorable. Providing a powerful and personalized B2B customer experience starts with marketing and sales alignment and established processes and connections along the way. Once you’ve done the work to develop these processes and build relationships, you can use marketing automation to keep everything on track.