Like many organizations, is your company making excuses when it comes to truly engaging with your clients? Or maybe you think you're already being client centric? Some B2B companies are so busy in the day-to-day operations that they sometimes neglect to bring their most important resource into the decision-making process: their clients.
While it is certainly true that face-to-face interactions foster relationships, engaging clients through a two-way, on-demand dialogue can help your organization gain the much desired competitive edge. In particular, if you're a B2B business, insights from clients can help you tackle the biggest challenges confronting your company today.
Here are 3 areas of continued discussion, pain and investment that client input can help address:
- Business development
For any business, learning the triggers of a purchase is important, but this is even more critical for B2B organizations. What made your current clients choose you in the first place? Which current features of your product do they care about? Answers to these can help your team position your offerings as you approach future clients. Insights into the mindset of clients and market trends are paramount if you want to get the attention of decision makers in your prospect companies and ultimately have your brand top of mind.
To successfully nurture leads into clients, you also need to find out purchase inhibitors. Ask your clients why they chose you over the competition and which feature from your competitors they wish you had. If you have a B2B insight community, ask people probing questions to find out what challenges are more important to the C-suite executives and which ones are lower priorities.
A community is about listening, and if you are listening, you will learn something about the other party. Your community members will help you understand their drivers and inhibitors to purchase, the reason why they accepted your offering and, most importantly, their main business challenges today. Having this information will help optimize your communications and product or service offering to the market.
- Reducing client churn
Given the typical account value, B2Bs certainly know the importance of keeping clients. Losing a client could mean losing thousands or millions of dollars from your bottom line. If you want to keep them, you need to be more attuned to what your clients are thinking about, the service they are experiencing and how they truly feel about your organization and offering.
Conversely, because of the impact of their buying decisions to their companies and to their careers, the stakes are generally higher for B2B clients than their B2C counterparts. B2B clients want their voice heard even more so than consumers. Their feedback may result in better profitability for their company, which may benefit their personal career aspirations.
B2Bs need to demonstrate they are serious about being a client-centric organization. For example, if you have a B2B insight community, ensure you are proving to members how their feedback is valued and if possible, how it helped to shape the development or refinement of your offering. In turn, your client will feel more valued, they will be more likely to remain a customer and they will see how their time investment in the community is appreciated and is being used.
- Innovation & ideation
To be truly innovative, you need to consistently drive new ideas and develop, test and refine them. Cultivating a culture of innovation is more difficult than it may appear. You just don't need great ideas - you have to be prepared to test them efficiently. Test your ideas quickly to avoid spending resources on those that will not drive the right return and to focus your efforts on more promising concepts.
Your clients should be your number one resource for driving innovation at your organization - after all, your products and services make their lives easier and better. Collaborating with your B2B community in a co-creation process can give you ideas your team may not have thought of yet. Members of your insight community will evaluate ideas as they move through the ideation process of develop, test, refine and retest.
In the high stakes world of B2B business, gaining deep client understanding and insight reveals the challenges your clients are facing today and most importantly, opportunities ripe for the taking.
How are you engaging your clients to uncover these opportunities? Let us know in the comments.