The face of marketing to B2B buyers is rapidly changing, and there is a lot of somewhat confusing information out there. After sifting through mountains of information, I found three keys B2B buyers desire when looking for a solution.
In one sentence—B2B buyers want their experience to mirror their B2C personal shopping experiences.
My own experience as a B2B buyer
One of the hats I’ve worn was as the buyer for the B2B division of my company. As a distributor, we purchased from the manufacturer and sold to professionals who used the product in their retail businesses.
The twist is that I also handled customer service. So I felt keenly aware of our customer’s pain points and needs. I wasn’t randomly shopping for new items to add to our professional collection. I was only open to things that could seamlessly integrate into our B2B buyer’s needs.
Regularly, I got pitches from all sorts of companies who thought they had the hottest item on the market. Many were duplicates of what we already carried. Others were selling items unrelated to our niche. A third group sold devices only legal for medical professionals to purchase—less than 5% of our buyers.
Many were non-US-based firms wanting us to import their items. They’d gotten our contact information from who knew where and were mass marketing. It was immediately clear from the pitch email the sender knew nothing about our business.
- I didn’t know the email sender.
- Their spam approach screamed at me.
- There had been no attempts to build trust.
It felt like a guy trying to get you to jump into bed at the first meeting. Ick. Turn and sprint away.
The companies I built relationships with were for the long term. We wanted products that our buyers could trust would be there and always meet specific performance standards. They were companies we learned we could depend on.
Trust was a huge factor. Support and accessibility to information, quick customer support, and a willingness to work with us to resolve any challenges.
We’ve done business with one of these firms for well over 20 years. It’s not something the buyer thinks of, but I can’t even guesstimate the CLV of our monthly purchases over that time frame.
B2B Buyers and Marketers have a lot in common.
With years as both a marketer and a B2B buyer, I’ve noticed the two have a lot in common. Both are putting their business, reputations, and jobs on the line with every purchase they make.
Both buyers and marketers are deluged with proposals and pitches. They both have to sort through masses of emails to identify any nugget that might be of real benefit to their business situation.
Recognizing those experiences and the similarities have helped me help my marketing clients. We build the relationship as team partners to discover solutions and create a strong ROI. Perfectly done with a successful marketing campaign or project, it’s a win-win for both.
Here’s a secret to keep in mind…
Stakeholders view things differently—it’s vital to recognize that each person with a stake in the decision views the process a little differently. They come at it from different departments, different needs, and even different goals. As a result, their risk factors may be higher, and decisions more complex.
They may need different types of answers. Communications need to help each person feel comfortable with the decision.
We need to keep in mind, each stakeholder probably feels their reputation and job is on the line. It’s not about our marketing. It’s about their comfort zone. So focus on answering their needs with relevant information, including the know, like, and trust factors. Easily accessible information and answers are the best paths to help them decide to buy.
3 key ways to help your B2B buyer
When we focus on the B2B buyer’s needs, it is all about quickly and efficiently helping them find what they need. Depending on the type of B2B that you work with, this can be very complex.
The higher the ticket price, the more information, details, and data are needed to support the decision—and the more people will be involved. It’s a longer, more complex process with higher stakes.
Content – useable, findable, relevant
Buyers need detailed information designed for quick, easy consumption. They may or may not be the technician or engineer working with a complex piece of equipment. However, they may be responsible for identifying possible solutions and then sharing them for input before making a decision.
Keep in mind B2B buyers want content as quickly readable as when they do their B2C shopping. So make layout and content designed for easy reading and rapid assimilation. Include whitespace, supporting graphics, and bulleted lists.
Offer cross-links and “also relevant” links to help them find additional information.
Be sensitive to what’s happening in the real world. We’ve been through a lot of turmoil in the last 18 months. Now things with a twang of nostalgia offer comfort and a sense of security. However, include nostalgia only if it fits and makes sense.
B2B buyers are looking for instant information. They don’t want to send an email and wait a week for an answer. The best interaction helps them quickly find what they need, now.
AI, chatbots, and the like can fill in an interactive gap. Of course, the better they interact and offer more specific answers, the more valuable they become.
Include all the frequently asked questions your customer service team hears. The more you include, the happier the buyer will be.
Analyze surveys or questions that have come up on social media. These offer tidbits of information the buyer needs.
Make the interaction smooth. Create a feeling of ease that includes transfers across support services. In addition, increased seamlessness increases the buyer satisfaction rate.
Retention saves B2B relationships and dollars.
Having a great experience and a trusting relationship make the buyer’s next purchasing decision more straightforward. If there is plenty of retention-focused TLC, you become their trusted resource.
Trust is imperative to keep the buyer coming back. Help them feel valued, respected and that you are there as a team partner to solve problems.
The results? A higher customer lifetime value and wins for both buyers and marketers.
Judith Culp Pearson is a result-oriented relationship-building and empathy-based marketer specializing in B2B wellness and information. Reach her at email@example.com.