Want to Do Something Your Competition Isn’t? Engage B2B Customers
It’s long been thought that emotional and psychological investment in a brand is something only business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses can pull off. The common perception of B2C marketing is one of the “suits” in charge winning customer loyalty by talking to the little guy: working parents, broke college students struggling with insurance and average middle-class types just trying to eliminate pet odors, eradicate bathroom tile gunk and pay off their loans faster. People think of B2B marketing as the suits talking to other suits, people seasoned in the industry, experienced and scrutinizing. Supposedly, it’s an environment inhospitable to emotional connections and customer loyalty can only be won by knowledge and hard data.
But, just because the nature of business-to-business (B2B) marketing doesn’t lend itself to warm, fuzzy commercial campaigns or viral social media explosions, doesn’t mean that customer engagement is unattainable for B2B businesses. Actually, according to Paul Hague in a B2B International article, “[B2B] products are made to a standard specification and there is not much scope to offer alternatives or improvements.” Therefore, B2B customer engagement goes a long way.
B2B Customers Have Feelings, Too[ezcol_1half]
In a Gallup article by Ed O’Boyle writes, “[In a] study of thousands of business-to-business (B2B) relationships: 22% of B2B customers are engaged, and only 13% are fully engaged. The reason that such a small percentage of B2B customers are emotionally engaged is because only a small percentage of B2B companies focus on engaging customers.”
In analyzing these statistics, O’Boyle concluded that the problem is the perception of B2B customer relations as distant and detached. “Think about it: If you buy the wrong brand of socks for yourself, you’ll be annoyed for the single day you wear them. But if you buy the wrong firewall and virus protection service for your company and then your company’s computer network implodes, you might lose your job. Because professional reputations and careers can be made or broken by B2B purchases, B2B customer engagement may be even more fraught with emotion than B2C relationships.”[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end][/ezcol_1half_end]
Since you can’t exactly host a slumber party to get all your sales channel partners together and get to know them, you have to use other means to capture their attention and earn their brand loyalty. This is where B2B loyalty program technology steps in. Using Loyaltyworks customer loyalty programs, which act as comprehensive communication and marketing platforms, you can create an ongoing exchange between you and your partners that engages them, facilitates emotional connections and ultimately leads to more long-term, productive partnerships. Considering the stats above, your competition probably hasn’t figured this out yet. If you can connect with and engage B2B customers, you can gain more prestige and market share in your industry.
Incentive Ideas for Engaging B2B Customers
- Increase product confidence and knowledge with online training.
Your B2B customers and resellers will care more about your products or services—and sell more of them—if they know more about them. As a SalesForce study found, “continuous training can yield up to 50% higher net sales per rep.” It’s the difference between an untrained channel partner saying “I don’t know much about this brand’s products. I haven’t used them much” versus “This brand makes high-quality and long-lasting products. They were the first to invent this handy little bonus feature and they’re currently running a 10% off promotion on this particular line of products.”[ezcol_1half]In order to make loyal customers out of your distributors, dealers or contractors, feed their knowledge of your differentiators. Greater understanding leads to greater confidence in your products or services. Offer a training incentive program through an online or mobile-accessible platform to make your training content easy and rewarding to access. This way, your channel partners can quickly access product knowledge without scheduling a training session or reading a manual. They can instantly earn rewards for completing surveys or passing quizzes.
Product confidence and knowledge is one of the quickest and surest ways to lock in B2B customer engagement. When your customers have the facts about how beneficial your brand is, they’ll want to share those facts.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end][/ezcol_1half_end]
- Simplify and accelerate incentive reward systems with mobile technology.
If your B2B customers are like the roughly 64% of the U.S. population, they love using smartphones. Since so many of their work hours are spent traveling or on inspection and installation sites, they’re likely highly dependent on their mobile phones for, quick communication and information access throughout the day.
By using a mobile customer loyalty program app, such as those Loyaltyworks provides, you can grant B2B customers faster and more convenient access to your program. Customer loyalty program apps integrate with mobile camera and UPC scanning technology, channel customers and sales reps can easily and instantly send images of invoices, warranty registrations and UPCs to validate sales claims and earn rewards in your incentive program. Luke Kreitner, VP of Sales at Loyaltyworks, says, “It used to be that distributors rewarded contractors belatedly for sales, but with mobile apps, field agents can upload warranties and other sales claim data on the spot. Then they can receive and spend their reward points immediately, all directly from their phones.”
- Collaborate on sales and marketing strategies by sharing and analyzing performance tracking data.
Last but certainly not least, you should engage your B2B customers by sharing performance data and analysis with them. Loyaltyworks customer loyalty programs provide the option of tracking and measuring results from multiple sales promotions results so you can gauge the ROI of your customer incentive program and better examine your supply chain sales tactics and B2B marketing strategies. Sharing this data with your channel sales network allows you to closely collaborate with your sales reps and customers so that, together, you can develop more effective business plans and sales goals.[ezcol_1half]When your channel partners are an active part of your B2B sales strategies, they will be more engaged and invested in your business’ success. They will be more inclined to push your products or services out over others, since they will be informed about and involved in your objectives. With a loyalty program that tracks performances, your channel partners succeed alongside your business achievements—not just in receiving customer loyalty rewards, but as a result of discussing sales ideas and sharing strategies with you. [/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end][/ezcol_1half_end]
Quality products or services and numbers to back up your worth as a channel partner are certainly a priority in B2B industries. But customer engagement and keeping customer interested in your brand isn’t just for B2C businesses. In fact, B2B brands have the opportunity to secure even deeper customer loyalty, since B2B customers have far greater reason to be emotionally invested in their channel partners’ products and services. By using a B2B customer loyalty program to increase product knowledge, easily reach customers through mobile technology and share performance data to perfect marketing strategies, you can engage your B2B customers and build strong foundations of loyalty and trust.
Call us at (800)-844-5000 or fill out our contact form to learn more about how Loyaltyworks can help you engage B2B customers, increase sales and perfect marketing strategies with innovative incentive ideas and technology.[ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third] [ezcol_2third_end]Nichole Gunn
Director of Marketing at the Incentive Solutions Group of Companies consisting of:
Direct Contact: 678.514.0224
Sales Hotline: 800.844.5000[/ezcol_2third_end]