3 Ways to Create Customer-Centric B2B Buyer Experiences

3 Ways to Create Customer-Centric B2B Buyer Experiences

Inside every B2B buyer, there lives a B2C customer. It’s an obvious observation, but an important one for B2B marketers to keep in mind. As B2C customers, we have higher expectations than ever before for easy access to information, quick response to questions, and personalized brand interactions – largely due to advances in digital technology and communication. These heightened consumer expectations are now carrying over into the B2B buyer experience.

The B2B purchase decision process is different from the B2C experience in many ways. As a result, B2B marketers face a number of challenges as they strive to meet their customers’ expectations. Ultimately, the key to successful marketing, in any industry and with any type of buyer, is to develop a customer-centric mindset. Here are three ways B2B marketers can put their customers’ experience at the center of their strategic approach.

Understand Who Your Customers Are

There are usually multiple layers of people involved in the typical B2B purchase process, with varying degrees of authority over the decision. According to the latest Demand Gen Report on the B2B buying process, 79% of buyers say that between one and six people are involved in these purchasing decisions. That could include anyone from the actual end users of the products and services to:

  • Management overseeing the areas where the products/services are needed
  • Procurement teams who handle purchasing across the organization
  • IT professionals responsible for integrating new products/services into the organizations’ systems
  • Senior-level management with final authority to approve purchase decisions

Different types of customers have different needs. In the B2C world, segmentation research is often used to help marketers better understand important differences among their target audience. B2B marketers can use a similar approach by segmenting customers according to their role in the purchase decision. With a clear understanding of the unique needs, perceptions, and motivations of all those involved in the decision, you’ll be able to create targeted communications guiding each through the buying process with ease.

Be Present When & Where Your Customers Need You

Customers, regardless of category, are no longer satisfied being “sold to.” They seek personalized experiences throughout their journey and are choosing to navigate through the purchase process on their own terms. Having on-demand access to product information from multiple sources is essential and gives customers the freedom to be autonomous until they’re ready to engage with your sales teams directly.

45% of buyers spent more time researching purchases,
compared to last year.

We know that B2B buyers are spending more time and using a wider variety of sources to research their purchase options than in past years. For B2B marketers, this requires identifying your customers’ preferred information channels  – everything from brand websites, peer reviews, industry publications, events, social media, and more. Ensure you’re providing your customers with the information they want, when they want it, by gathering feedback from them directly. Learn what role different channels play in their decision process and at what stage of their journey they use different sources of information. For instance, consider conducting website user testing to help you learn what information is most important to your customers and uncover ways to optimize their experience while visiting your site.

Show Them You Understand What’s Most Important

Another finding from the Demand Gen Report is how important it is for B2B brands to demonstrate knowledge of their customers’ industry, the unique challenges customers face, and insights into their specific issues. B2B marketers who understand how their products and services fit within the bigger picture of their customers’ company goals and objectives can position themselves as business partners, rather than vendors who can be more easily replaced.

64% of buyers consider it very important for sales teams to
demonstrate knowledge of their company and insight into their problems.

Conducting qualitative research among key customers is a great way to gain an in-depth understanding of their specific pain points and uncover ways you can alleviate them. Whether it’s engaging customers in one-on-one interviews, conducting workplace ethnographic research, or inviting them to participate in group discussions, qualitative research is an ideal way to become more in tune with their unique situations.

What business challenges are they facing that you can help them overcome? What critical competitive threats are they currently addressing? What internal hurdles must they clear in order to make their purchasing decisions with confidence? Find the answers to these types of questions and then clearly communicate that you understand what’s most important to your customers.

See Your Customers as People First

Businesses that adopt a customer-centric mindset, in place of a brand-centric approach, increase their odds of success, regardless of industry. By taking a cue from the world of consumer marketing research, B2B marketers can benefit from learning as much as possible about the B2B buyer experience, across all stages of the purchase process. Doing so will help you engage with your customers on their terms and develop lasting brand relationships. It’s about seeing your customers as people first who have complex needs in both their B2B and B2C worlds.

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