Building a successful company of any kind is difficult, even more so if you’re breaking into the B2B sector. A strong brand is what separates the sharks from the fish in a vast sea of competition. Anyone can provide excellent service or even a quality product, but the complete package — a well-crafted experience — is what truly matters.
Any successful B2B business focuses on bringing in new clients, as well as retaining and strengthening existing relationships. Here are some inherent traits of strong B2B companies that will help reinforce relationships to both reach success and maintain it.
1. Have a Clear Vision and Core Values
Strong B2B branding means knowing your company’s overall vision, core values and most importantly, your mission statement. What are you trying to achieve? These values serve as the foundation of any organization and define everything related to it. Logos, taglines, websites and visual themes, business copy — it all centers on these elements.
It is easier to accomplish this in a small kitchen with fewer cooks. Ironing out these details with a large team means organizing a meeting between all C-level managers and decision-makers. Ultimately, though, whoever is responsible for guiding the company should also be responsible for determining these core values.
2. Understand Your Target Audience
Even B2B companies have a certain audience they should be focusing on. Who is it? What does your customer look like, and what do they want? What are you going to help them achieve? If you haven’t already, build a profile of your ideal customer that includes pertinent information you can use to better your products, marketing and customer support.
One of the best ways to achieve this is to deploy a robust data analytics platform. How old are they? Are they male or female? Do they tend to live in the Midwest or on the East Coast? What kinds of services or products do they provide? How successful are they? Gathering data about your audience allows you to create a detailed snapshot of your ideal target, helping you better organize your efforts — whether you are creating a direct marketing campaign or coming up with a new product they’ll like.
3. Prioritize Value Over Price
What are you offering your customers? Better yet, what is the real value of your services or products? Are you even solving their most significant pain points and challenges? B2B customers are like any other customer — their highest priority is the value you provide. They don’t care about sales quotas, investor meetings or demands or even how successful your company is. They want solutions that are going to make their lives easier. What specific business challenges are you addressing for them? Everything you do, from generating new products and services to marketing, should be about providing value above all else.
4. Treat Your Customers Like Partners
Never lose sight of the fact that you started your business to serve people. You are helping them achieve their business goals, which means you need open communication. Don’t keep them at arm’s length — instead, treat them like you would a business partner. Consider allowing them to make suggestions and provide valuable feedback, then use it. You can do this by hosting formal meetings, contracting representatives from each of your customer brands or even through questionnaire and survey-based tools. Dig into the usability of your offerings, and explore how you can better serve your customers.
5. Get Your Team on Board
To get anywhere in the B2B space, both you and your team genuinely have to believe in what you’re doing. You need company-wide buy-in, which means building loyalty within your business, just as you do with your customers. Start by making sure they understand the brand and core values, then find ways to help them exude these in all their dealings. How can they serve as brand ambassadors if they don’t understand what you’re trying to do? Better yet, afford them a stake in the company’s success. That will motivate them to not only participate, but excel at what they’re doing, which improves the experience they can provide their customers.
Photo: Malachi Witt
6. Optimize Your Customer Service
Customer service channels are the only way your audience and supporters can communicate with your brand. Optimizing their usability and flow is essential to building strong, loyal relationships. If you have a community forum, for example, regular moderation and reviews will convey the suggestions, comments and concerns your customers raise directly to the decision-makers. Better yet, find methods to collect and explore this data in a more meaningful way.
Also, ensure your basic customer support channels are active for as long as possible, and that you have reliable sentries manning the walls. They need to respond quickly to customer concerns and problems, but also in a useful way. Representatives also need to understand they speak for the entire brand, and that means conducting themselves in a way that aligns with the company’s core values. Investing in customer experience will provide significant returns. Some improvements can lower customer churn by as much as 15 percent, reduce costs by as much as 50 percent and increase conversion rates by 40 percent.
7. Know Your Competition
Knowing your audience is one element of success, but being familiar with the surrounding market and your competition is another. How can you be sure you’re differentiating yourself or standing out if you don’t even know what everyone else is doing? Invest time in researching your competition or similar businesses to see what they are doing, what they’ve achieved and even ways they’ve failed. You can use this information to hone your strategies and efforts or to outright learn from your competition’s mistakes.
8. Keep Everything Succinct
It’s easy to forget sometimes, but you’re dealing with fellow professionals in most cases. Your customers are just as busy as you are, and they need you to cut to the chase. Don’t waste their time with long-winded proposals and speeches or lengthy marketing experiences. Get to the point and give them the most important, most impactful information right up front. This approach not only provides them with a better experience, but it also conveys that you respect their time and schedules. Use your — hopefully — strong value proposition to drive the point home.
Whether you’re dealing with marketing, lead generation or an actual sale, keep everything as brief as possible. This tactic will help you during negotiations, as well. “Going for the jugular” is all about understanding what value you offer others and how to communicate that quickly and effectively.
9. Invest in Your Success
Most organizations and sales teams will spend a lot of time trying to grow customer numbers, aggressively. For them, it’s all about rapid growth and expansion, which will ultimately lead to incredible success. That could work, but sometimes it’s better to move a little more slowly. Instead of trying to capture such a large audience from all walks of life and varying demographics, focus on your most successful customer segments.
A longstanding and loyal customer will always provide more value than a one-off — someone who buys your product or service and then disappears into the ether. More importantly, lasting relationships influence other areas of your business as well, such as customer support and marketing. Spend more time with the customers who are a strong fit for your brand, and work on solidifying retention rates. As you do, you’ll experience more natural growth, and your customer base will primarily consist of loyal, active supporters rather than shallow leads.
These Are the Traits That Make a B2B Company Successful
If you’re looking to succeed — in any capacity — the traits you see here are what you and your team should invest in most. Even for the most successful companies, there’s always room to improve. Honor your customers by respecting their time, their thoughts and concerns and by providing top-notch experiences. Treat your employees with the same respect and trust. And finally, stick to your guns when it comes to honoring your brand’s core values. If you do all these things, prioritizing value and customer experience above all else, you’ll find your brand at the top of the market in no time.