B2B sales are short for business-to-business sales. Refers to businesses or sellers who sell products and services directly to other businesses or B2B customers. This parallels business-to-consumer (B2C) sales, where products and services are sold directly to the consumer. The customer experience is the entire customer journey with your business, including all interactions between customers and the company.
The B2B sales experience is primarily created during the sales process. It contributes greatly to improving the customer experience and is an integral part of the customer experience. Overall, it plays a crucial role in increasing sales and profits. B2B sales are the process of selling products or services from one company to another.
The most common type of B2B sale occurs when a company sells a product or service to another company that will use it to help run their business. Business-to-business sales are generally made through relationships and networks, rather than through advertising or retail stores. However, many companies fail to deliver a great customer experience, as customers are four times more likely to leave an unfair service interaction than loyal. Bad customer experience drives rebranding and most customers who suffer from a bad customer experience spread negative word of mouth.
McKinsey research showed that improving the customer experience from average to exceptional (where the customer is “surprised in some way”) can lead to a 30 to 50 percent increase in KPIs, such as the likelihood of renewing or buying another product. More positively, 31% of b2b companies are committed to customer focus, as customer experience is a central component of their organization's strategy. This suggests that almost a third of b2b brands have a structured vision for executing a strong customer experience, although it is not yet rooted in the company's culture. At least a quarter of B2B companies perform well every step of the way to customer experience excellence.
The highest performance is in the first step, the commitment, but only about half of b2b companies are committed, that is,. Enthusiastic about satisfying customers and making them feel valued. This is alarming given that commitment is the basis of success. In other words, without committing to delighting customers, it's very difficult to deliver a great customer experience.
The first step in customer experience excellence is to commit to satisfying and, where possible, delighting customers. Employees need to share a common goal of focusing on the customer to commit 100% to the customer experience across the organization. Cintas, the facilities management company, refers to its employees as “Partners” as a means of committing their cooperation toward shared purpose. Southwest Airlines takes this one step further by capitalizing on everyone who interacts with its brand in any way.
Southwest's purpose includes “Connecting people” and its mission includes “dedication to the highest quality of customer service”. Understanding and meeting customer needs is vital to customer loyalty, but easier said than done. Customer demands tend to be diverse and increasingly demanding: more personalized, cost-effective, faster, etc. Despite this, up to half of b2b providers believe that quality and price are all that matters.
This oversimplification is perpetuated by sales teams driven by short-term sales objectives and obsessed with selling by price (rather than value). Sales teams often mishear and are obsessed with selling the products and services they have to sell, which can be very different from what the customer really wants and values. Successful fulfillment also requires an understanding of unmet needs and what keeps customers awake at night. This allows suppliers to differentiate their offering and, in some cases, exceed customer expectations.
For example, an insurance company that provides services to farmers challenged by climate change developed a digital solution specifically tailored to the needs of farmers. This offer provides time-constrained farmers with valuable information, such as historical and forecast weather data, as well as the ability to purchase policies online at times when farmers are not busy with their work (for example, at the end of the night). B2B audiences increasingly value providers who help them differentiate and serve better. Innovation and partnership are key to meeting customers' customer needs, but these requirements are often not sufficiently met.
Most b2b companies have a parish view that the customer is the direct consumer of their product or service, so best-in-class b2b companies are those that understand the entire value chain and positively impact their customers' customers. In virtually every b2b market, one of the main drivers of overall loyalty is the ease of doing business with the provider. Regardless of who the customer buys from (whether it's a manufacturing company, a reseller, a SaaS provider, or a consultant), fluidity is essential for a smooth customer experience. In most cases, simplicity is synonymous with simplicity, convenience and hassle-free.
B2b customer experience research programs can help businesses be more responsive, not only identifying where improvements need to be made, but also by providing a platform through which corrective action can be taken soon after an issue has occurred. For example, real-time detractor alerts allow problem resolution to be taken quickly. Customer surveys and loyalty research tend to evaluate company performance. However, B2B customer experience research evaluates the entire customer journey in terms of interconnected touchpoints and current and anticipated pain points.
Even in value chains with numerous channel partners and routes to market, opportunities can be identified to improve the customer experience, such as HP with its Instant Ink offering. Customer journeys are more complex than ever, as the average b2b customer uses six different channels (such as in-person reps and e-commerce sites) throughout their decision-making process. This can make it difficult to deliver a seamless experience, but b2b shoppers who interact with multiple channels spend more than those who only buy on a single channel. The most profitable customer experiences, therefore, are those that comprise omnichannel marketing and sales strategies.
They are also often delivered by companies that are more agile. Customer Experience Excellence recognizes that the customer is not just a transaction. In b2b markets, the customer often includes numerous decision makers and influencers within the same company, often with different needs. The most sophisticated providers know how to sell in value to these different audiences.
They also understand the broader impact of their offering in terms of the benefit to the customers of their customers. The foundation of excellence in the b2b customer experience is a commitment to putting the customer at the center of what the company does, how it does it, and ultimately why it does it. Fewer than half of b2b companies are enthusiastic about satisfying customers and making them feel valued, and without a commitment to delighting customers, it's impossible to deliver a great customer experience. The starting point, therefore, is to gain acceptance at the board level to integrate the customer approach into the company structure.
Although cultural alignment doesn't happen overnight and customer experience management must continually evolve, the financial returns of customer experience excellence can be immediate and offer a competitive advantage. To learn more about how our expertise in b2b customer experience research can help your business Very impressed after our first project with you. His experience in the B2B area was evident and he delivered an excellent level of delivery. We achieved very good results from B2B International in several projects involving focus groups in two countries and several sessions per country.
Customer Experience (CX), traditionally an approach for consumer-facing businesses, is now also a key differentiator for B2B companies*. Build stronger relationships and stay ahead of your competitors with these B2B account management and customer experience best practices. For organizations, now is the time. Customers already expect better CX from B2B organizations, and at least 80% of B2B buyers now expect the same shopping experience as B2C customers.
For B2B organizations to make CX a meaningful reality and increase revenue, companies must change their B2B CX programs to adapt to changing consumer needs and expectations. The need for change is clear, as only 57% of B2B organizations achieve minimal or marginal improvement in CX performance with their current approach, according to their customers. An XM framework, focusing on technology, competencies and culture, is essential if your organization wants to create a successful B2B CX program. It will allow leaders to focus their time on the right areas and take the steps that have the greatest impact on the business.
Find out how to embrace these principles and grow your B2B business with CX's B2B account management guide here. CX in B2B is fundamentally different from B2C. Companies are evaluated for some critical episodes, from complex purchase cycles and multi-stakeholder engagement, to the adoption of new products and services. Because of this complexity, it's critical that your B2B CX program has access to ongoing customer feedback so you can understand and focus on what really matters to them.
But, this is not always the case. B2B CX programs are known for receiving limited responses to customer feedback, making it impossible to understand customer drivers and make informed decisions. Given this context, it is essential that organizations have the tools to collect ongoing feedback and use it to design a B2B CX program and account management strategy that moves forward at the times that matter: driving sales, improving renewals, and making implementation transparent. Establish what type of company you intend to be and the strict measures that will indicate progress.
Have clear business objectives from the start, such as reducing service cost, increasing wallet share, or retention. Being aware of what you want to achieve ensures that your B2B CX program remains focused and provides a framework for measuring success. When it comes to CX metrics, B2B organizations should consider a variety of options, from NPS, as a measure of customer advocacy, to other CX metrics, such as overall satisfaction (OSAT) for relational surveys and the customer effort score (CES) for transactional surveys. Commonly adopted metrics, such as these, can be used to conduct competitive benchmarks and be linked to operational KPIs.
With the participation of many stakeholders, B2B CX has the potential to become too complicated. Ensure you have the capabilities to engage every stakeholder group, from executive sponsors to procurement resources and frontline users, on your own terms, through personalized communications and active listening. Understanding how satisfied or not this portfolio of contacts is in an account is crucial to building relationships intelligently over time. While it's obvious that the most successful B2B CX programs are based on quality knowledge, it's not always easy, given the limited groups of respondents.
This means that it's essential that you ask the right questions to the right audience at the right time. It pays close attention to survey design, including number of questions, compatibility between devices, and frequency of matching, and uses technology such as natural language processing and machine learning to derive information from literal answers across channels, including networking sites social. To deliver excellent B2B CX, leaders need to understand that their business cannot be managed or measured in the same way as a B2C business. Following the steps outlined above will help you create a program that works for you, a system of action configured to make measurable improvements to the business.
The B2B customer experience is the experience of B2B buyers and decision makers when interacting with suppliers of B2B goods and services. There are several key distinguishing characteristics of a B2B (business-to-business) sale versus selling to an individual consumer. B2C (business-to-consumer) sales tend to be driven by emotions, based on immediate needs or wants. A B2C sales cycle is usually much shorter relative to B2B, and there is usually no prior relationship between the seller and the customer.
According to Forbes, more than 53% of what drives B2B customers' purchasing decisions is the ability of the salesperson to teach customers something new or challenge their way of thinking. B2B customers increasingly want the same transactional ease offered to consumers, including omnichannel facilities. Instead of promoting an item, such as shoes, that a customer can buy online or in a retail store, B2B marketing and sales teams may find themselves selling equipment or service contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Professor David Weinhaus, Global Sales Enablement Leader at HubSpot, Teaches His B2B Sales Students to Deepen the Discovery Call.
Since buying cycles take one, two, or even six months, B2B prospects are eager for content that explicitly describes how they can alleviate their pain points while considering their various options. B2B personalization involves adapting all aspects of business advertising, marketing, sales offers, and communications to meet the specific needs of each individual B2B customer. B2B and B2C (business-to-consumer) sales are different in that B2B offers tend to have a higher price, more exclusive purposes, a longer sales cycle, and require many points of contact to close the deal. By contrast, B2B sales incorporate a great deal of logic and thinking, involve a long-term strategy, and require a much more personalized sales approach.