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What Not To Do For Better B2B Customer Relationships

Building a trusting relationship in complex industrial sales is hard enough without things being messed up even more because your sales reps fail to do the basics. It helps a great deal if you first learn what turns off your B2B customers in order to avoid making simple mistakes that can damage a customer relationship.

There is a big difference between what B2B customers say they want and what really drives their purchasing decision. Buyers of technical products and services do look to vendors for providing relevant information for solving their problems. Even though B2B customers consider product features and price very important, what they are really looking for is a remarkable sales experience.

That was the key finding of a research study done by McKinsey & Co. after they surveyed more than 1,200 purchasing decision makers in small, medium, and large companies throughout the United States and Western Europe who are responsible for buying high-tech products and services.

The two most important factors in rating vendor performance were extensive knowledge of product/service features and overall sales experience. If your sales team can just get these two basics right, it can boost its share of a customer’s business by an average of 8% to 15%. These findings were consistent across most B2B industries with complex, multi-touch buying processes.

The table below shows results from the study that shows what sales reps do wrong to turn off B2B customers.

[table id=2 /]

As B2B marketers, there are things we can do to help your sales team fix the problem with customer relationships. Here are five tips:

  • Marketing or sales force automation can help in streamlining the contact process and match the number of contacts to the prospects’ preferences
  • Get sales on the frontline of customer interactions; get them involved in the creation of marketing content to develop customer-centric value propositions and to guarantee a consistent message
  • Use your website to serve up relevant content in various formats for savvy technical buyers who are happy to use a self-serve model and only have sales reps or engineers involved in complex situations
  • Provide more experiential training and on-the-job training for sales reps to develop a deeper understanding of product features and industry trends
  • Rethink your sales strategies and focus on newer “pull” or inbound marketing techniques strategies to replace traditional “push” methods

The good news is that the top two reasons, which accounted for 55% of the complaints for failed B2B customer relations can be easily fixed.

What has been your experience, both as a vendor and/or a B2B customer?

Have a safe and happy 4th of July weekend!

2 Comments

  1. The importance of the sales experience is reinforced by the Integrated Sales Executive Council. In their research report Replicating the New High Performer, they point out that 53% of the contribution to “customer loyalty” is “sales experience” (ie rep offers valuable market perspectives, rep helps me avoid land mines, rep educates me on new issues and outcomes etc). Sales experience far outweighs other factors such as company brand impact, produce/service delivery and value to price ratio.

    1. Bruce,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughtful comment. Glad to hear that “sales experience” was validated/reinforced in another study.

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