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B2B customers buy everything for some value addition to whatever business they are in. In contrast, B2C customers buy for personal satisfaction. B2C customers do not plan to sell something on eBay at the time they decide to buy. But B2B customers must value-add and sell something onward, made with the help of the purchased item. Even if your B2B customer is a non-profit or the government, they purchase inputs and convert to something that is valued added. That value added output will help in achieving the non-profit or government agency’s mission/program goals.
Thus, B2B customers do have plans to use what you supply – onward in their process- to improve their business outcomes. Take the example of a recruiter who supplies candidates to a client. The client and recruiter figure out the job details and the essential and desirable qualifications of the candidate. The recruiter does screening interviews and provides a shortlist of candidates that might be a good fit with the client organization. But recruiters who have happy repeat clients have provided great candidates in the past who have helped the client succeed. Underlying this success is the recruiters effort to really understand the challenges that the client is trying to solve with a new hire, the workplace context , the reporting executive, the rest of the team. When such a thoughtful recruiter supplies a shortlist – the client knows that anyone on that shortlist will work out well.
So here is a checklist for understanding your customer’s needs:
√ Initial Pre-Sales Meetings: need to be focus on trying to genuinely understand how exactly your offering will help the B2B customer achieve their goals. A sense of who else will be involved? (for example the user- see Buying Center) The specificity and context, people involved,organization structures can different between clients, even in the same industry.
√ The Contracting Stage : Here you should try to include as many details that you have learnt about the solution you are trying to sell. The customer is not really buying your product but buying a solution to a problem that the customer’s organization is facing.
√ During the contract: Regular review meetings to review “how are things going”? are hugely helpful in assessing how well your product is serving to solve the customers problem. Frequently, you will find that although your product is doing its job, but employees or other vendors are dropping the ball. Instead of thinking of this as “not your problem” try to assist the customer gain full benefit of your product. If necessary, provide training sessions to employees, team up with associated vendors. Everyone appreciates a helping hand and many organizations can find additional money for these additional services if not in the current contract,very likely in the renewal. After all, you are looking for long term B2B relationships that is based on a partnership for the success of your customer.
If every B2B customer is successful, your product or service’s success will follow.