Running a business to business (B2B) model company requires some specific considerations. You have to think about the types of companies you plan to reach and the best way of doing so. Software helps simplify things, such as keeping track of your top clients or streamlining inventory, logistics and payroll. In a recent survey, around 90% of B2B company leaders felt the customer experience (CX) was one of the top priorities for their brands.
However, the definition of CX encompasses everything from how fast an order is filled to follow-up after the initial order. The overall impression your customers are left with after any interaction with you summarizes the customer experience. Finding software that speeds up processes or frees up workers so they can offer a more personalized experience helps with CX.
There are hundreds of different types of software you might buy for your company. However, some stands out as vital to improving operations and expanding your customer base. Let’s look at five types of software programs your B2B business should invest in.
1. Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the buzzwords of the year — and for good reason. When you track your customers’ past orders and their preferences, you can better serve their needs. Some things to look for when choosing CRM software include:
- Is the software easy to use? You don’t want to put your employees through endless training sessions to figure it out.
- Revenue tracking. Is there built-in return on investment (ROI) tracking? This allows you to see what efforts result in the biggest payoffs.
- You don’t want hackers to get to your sensitive information and gather personal details from your customers.
- Extensive reporting. You want a system that not only collects data, but also pulls together analysis so you can figure out how best to reach your leads.
You’ll also need to decide if you want a cloud-based system that can be accessed via mobile devices or if you prefer an in-house network.
2. Business Mapping
Business mapping helps you see where you might want to offer your products or services. If you haven’t mapped your business yet, you should do so. The software provides several advantages to B2B companies, including:
- An overview of maps that break down to street-level views. This is particularly helpful if you plan to send a representative around to businesses in a given area.
- The ability to add data to a specific address or area, so you can see the demographics of residents.
- Creating sales territory mapping for your salespeople so they don’t overlap efforts.
Most business mapping allows you to create layers and reports so you can gather minute details that help you better meet the needs of your customers. Specific data is a vital part of offering the information you need to convince new clients to sign up with you over a competitor.
3. Marketing Automation
Marketing can eat up a lot of your time and resources, but many tasks can be easily automated with software such as HubSpot or Buffer. Some of the advantages of marketing automation include:
- Planning full campaigns in advance and scheduling posts to go up on a set day.
- Getting reports on how well different types of posts perform and adjust accordingly. For example, they may perform best at a specific time of day with your target audience.
- Saving time by automating repetitive tasks, such as a Friday Freebie or reminder of upcoming events.
Marketing automation software does the heavy lifting so your creative team can focus on coming up with fresh ideas no one else has tried.
4. Lead Generating Tools
Capturing leads in real life isn’t all that difficult. All you need to do is set up a booth at a trade show and enter names into a drawing or meet one-on-one with people. However, capturing online leads requires a bit more finesse. Powerful software can filter out the ones that aren’t quality and keep only the ones that match your buyer persona.
If someone comments on your social media page, they may not be the perfect fit for what you offer or they might. The right software tools help you judge and spend your time on people most likely to become lifelong customers. Here are some things you can do with lead-generating software:
- Scan social media profiles and grab info on those who interacted with your posts.
- Compare personal interests and even things such as location to decide if the person is a good lead or not.
- Locate companies browsing your site and then run them through the filter of the type of customer you’re looking for.
- Contact people who have interacted and invite them to download a free report or some other resource to better gauge interest.
As a B2B, locating other companies interested in what you have to offer isn’t as easy as it sounds. A solid lead-generating tool or two helps ease this process and find more new customers.
Keeping track of what businesses have outstanding invoices and who still needs to be billed can be a nightmare. Fortunately, many popular and automated accounting software options work perfectly. Look for software that offers:
- Automated invoicing and tracking of outstanding invoices. Even some of the simple online payment systems offer this, as well as recurring invoices.
- Payroll management so you don’t need two separate systems.
- In-depth reports that show where you lose money so you can rectify any situations.
The best accounting software tracks both expenses and income and also keeps a separate account of taxes for each quarter so you’re never caught unaware.
Choosing the Right Software
The right kind of software makes your life easier and more streamlined, and the wrong tool can create a nightmare scenario where no one knows how to use the darned thing. Take advantage of free trials and make sure it’s right for you before investing big bucks. Software is an investment that helps you run your daily tasks more easily. If it doesn’t do that, then it’s time to look for something different in the same category. With a little effort, you’ll find the perfect mix for your brand.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She constantly researches trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.