3 Ways for B2B Companies to Efficiently Retain Their Customers
The marketing and business models for B2C and B2B models are different. For the latter category, strategies for nurturing existing customers are significantly more important than for the former.
For B2B companies, in contrast, the customer pool is significantly smaller, which means that losing just one customer can be catastrophic. Generally, for B2B ventures, it is better for them to focus efforts on keeping their already-existing customers.
According to a research study by Bain & Company, a 5 percent increase in the customer-retention rate can result in a 25 percent-to-95 percent increase in profits for B2B businesses. Another big factor: It is 25 times more expensive to bring on a new customer than to keep an already existing one.
This is why B2B companies dread working on the customer-turnover rate and seemingly will do anything to avoid it. These realities are the reason why B2B loyalty programs are on the rise and why B2B marketers are constantly prioritizing these programs. Here are a few tips to help your B2B company hold on to your buyers.
1. Identify and categorize your buyers.
For every kind of business, numerous customer metrics exist to help entrepreneurs keep on top of their customers' buying patterns and behavior. Perhaps the best place to start is knowing to what category your customers belong.
In an article on consultative selling, FPX identified two broad categories of buyers: "small-fish" buyers and "big-fish" buyers. The former category is what I like to call the “drive-by” buyers. These buyers are not big on loyalty. They have their eyes on the prize, and by that I mean the best deals they can get, regardless of the seller they get it from. Beyond that, they are not really keen on long-term business relationships.
Big-fish buyers, in contrast, are more intentional and less volatile in their approach to business dealings. These guys are in it for the long haul, or at least one longer than that of the small-fish buyers. This is especially true when the B2B business they are dealing with offers products/services that require them to work hand in hand with the seller from the first contact to purchase and installation.
Once you are able to correctly lump your buyers into these categories, you'll find it easier to develop more targeted marketing campaigns without spending over the top for either.
2. Care for their business as much as for your own
When your buyers notice that you actually care about their business, beyond selling to them, loyalty toward you is almost a certainty. If you intend to consolidate a business relationship, understand that your dealings with your buyers do not end when you close a sale with them; the relationship actually never ends (or never should).
CenterCal, a real estate development company, has grown its business massively over a 13-year period by operating with a strategy that puts its customers first. Its latest project, for instance, called Mountain View Village in Riverton, Utah, is an ongoing 85-acre project that will boast a number of top-shelf amenities and services, such as a luxury theater, hotel and gym, retail outlets, restaurants, etc.
The individual businesses that will occupy this property will actually be reaping the benefits of the CenterCal brand. One of these benefits will be that those businesses will be able to significantly trim their marketing budgets. This is something they would not be able to do separate from the CenterCal name.
Loyalty is a two-way street.You need to be as loyal to your buyers as you need them to be to you. According to research by Kitewheel, 73 percent of customers polled believed that loyalty programs are about brands proving their loyalty to their customers, while 66 percent of marketing executives surveyed believed the reverse to be true.
When your buyers realize that being in business with you is actually good for them, the thought of jumping to the competition becomes a distant memory.
3. Speak with one brand voice.
One of the worst things that can happen to your business is when buyers feel they are getting mixed messages from you. You cannot effectively communicate with your buyers if your brand voice is not unanimous.
When all the departments across your business are in harmony with one other and are holistically working toward the right objective, this kind of harmony will register positively in your buyers’ perception of your brand. Throughout their relationship with you, these buyers will likely deal with different departments at your company; so you want to ensure that they get a consistently positive experience.
This may mean that the responsibilities of those various departments may have to overlap at some point, to bridge any gaps between the services being given them; the result for your buyers will therefore be a seamless, positive experience.
If any of your buyers have complaints, morever, they should never feel that any employee in any department is trying to pass the buck on to someone else or to another department entirely. The seamless transition from one department to another should be something they barely even notice.
Gallup has said that only 29 percent of B2B customers are actively engaged with the companies they have business dealings with; that’s a whopping 71 percent of customers ready to jump ship at a moment’s notice. If this one statistic alone doesn’t reveal to you the urgency of continuous positive customer experience, nothing else will.