Creating connections in B2B marketing


It’s a tale we’ve seen quite often this past decade: Companies are going bankrupt because they didn’t keep up with consumer demands, technology, or changing lifestyles. But it’s not always about offering the latest goods, nor should those outside of the retail industry consider themselves safe from these troubles. Businesses must consider their customers’ needs, and how their relationship with them is being managed throughout all aspects of the working relationship. These are the individuals sharing their experiences with others, and if you haven’t noticed, word travels faster than ever on social media. In the B2B sphere, word may also travel at trade shows, expos, AGMs – the list goes on and on! Creating connections and excellent customer service don’t go unnoticed, and will help your business get ahead.

Chief Marketer cites Alison Biggan, president of corporate marketing at SAP, in saying that marketers should consider the entire customer journey when acquiring and keeping new business. She asks, “What are we doing to engage with customers, help customers understand the product and drive adoption?” Decision-makers don’t go into new business ventures blindfolded. They often choose to conduct their own research to varying levels of formality, whether it be Googling a business to ensure it exists, reading reviews, or checking out its website.

It’s one thing to see what people are saying about a business, but how said business responds and supports their customers is equally important, and this is where creating a connection is imperative. This engagement (or lack thereof) could ultimately be the deciding factor when acquiring or retaining a business relationship.

A recent Gallup study shows that only 29% of B2B customers are fully engaged, while 71% are at risk of leaving one business behind for their competitor. Yikes! Consider these tips to help boost your customer engagement levels:

Keep the dialogue flowing both ways: It’s in your best interest to listen to what your consumers/clients have to say. How else will you know what they want? Consider implementing regular check-ins, sending feedback surveys, or using web polls to find out what users want.

Respond in a timely manner: Ensure that your customer service team responds to all inquiries within 24-48 hours. Letting emails slide or not responding at all will be detrimental to your business, and force your client base to find answers (and probably new business) elsewhere.

Build a community: Chief Marketer notes that software companies have built online communities so that their clients can correspond and help each other. Companies can monitor these communities to learn what’s important to their users. This can also serve as important feedback (or informal market research) for future product offerings, software and mobile app updates, or any other issues that might need a resolution.

Consider the competition: Harkening back to the fact that 71% of customers are wanting to switch to your competitor, maybe it’s worth taking a look at what makes the competition so attractive. Where are your business’ shortcomings, and how can they be improved? You may find that boosting your engagement levels could be a step in the right direction.

Brands may be resistant to change, but implementing the above tips can help with customer support, retention, and bringing in new business. One bad experience can be enough for someone to want to shift their business elsewhere, but opening the doors of communication throughout the customer journey can help you catch and resolve any issues before it’s too late. Think back to my earlier example of stubborn retailers, unwilling to change their ways – don’t let that be your business in the decade ahead!

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