Andrew wants to know if B2C CRM strategies will work for his small B2B business.
“Hi, I have a three-man consultancy group that provides marketing research to mid-level businesses and large enterprises. Our work is highly niched, so my client base is pretty narrow. I’ve read a lot of great CRM tactics on how to increase profits, but most of these are geared towards B2C like upselling, mass emails and cold calling. For sure these techniques will turn off my corporate clients, who are likely aware or are practicing the same hard sell techniques to their customers. How do I implement a good B2B CRM strategy then? Something that sounds more professional than appearing like a salesman making shallow pitches in a shopping mall.” – Andrew, Charlotte, N.C.
B2B CRM software works with the same objective as a B2C: understand your customer so you can deliver the best service. Both can also be on-premise and cloud hosted or web based/online solution. But that’s where the similarities end.
What is acceptable in B2C CRM may not necessarily be in a B2B environment. As you’ve mentioned, upselling and cold calling will make you look unprofessional and amateurish, two things you don’t want to project when pitching marketing research services. Before you make a comparison review for the best or top B2B CRM software, understand the key differences between B2B and B2C:
Many companies fall into the trap experienced by 50% to 80% of companies polled who fail to meet their CRM expectations, according to a Gartner Group survey. These companies look at CRM as a technology. It’s not. It’s a business strategy, and to create an effective B2B CRM strategy here are 4 things to remember:
Because you’re dealing with a few valued clients over a long period you should know them personally. Make sure your B2B CRM software understands the level of your relationship with existing clients to personalize and deliver the right response to build goodwill. The response can be trivial or professional. For instance, knowing when your client makes a full report to his big boss and furnishing him with project metrics to help him finish that report will be greatly appreciated. Or, sending him a birthday gift of his favorite wine brand also builds rapport.
Catering to a valued client may be easy at the onset when everyone is excited at the top level (e.g., you’re launching an online service for the client). Over time, when the tasks are delegated to the underlings, things get mundane, and deliverables tend to suffer. Your B2B CRM software should monitor deliverables on a daily or weekly schedule to get a tight control on client servicing.
B2B CRM works through layers of corporate relations. You have the big boss, the marketing lieutenant, the purchasing person and the accounting contact to deal with. Your B2B CRM strategy should incorporate insights about each of these persons to establish smooth relationships and logical processes across your corporate client’s politics. The big boss may like your idea, but his underling is skeptical, the purchasing is busy, while the accountant is practical. Your B2B CRM should be able to identify each of their positions so you can pitch your idea in each of their context to win the contract.
Often the CEO or owner will not decide on your project. He’s hired people to do that for him. Your B2B CRM should identify that key person and the key persons who can influence that person, who you’ll need to shower with goodwill and pitch a solid presentation to (not just ideas).
We can say B2B CRM is older than B2C CRM. The underlying premise in B2B is to make business a positive personal experience and B2B companies have been doing exactly that to their clients long before B2C companies caught the trend. With the four things we’ve discussed above in mind, you’ll come across as more professional, while keeping a personal touch.
By the way, since you have a small business, I recommend that you also read how to choose the best CRM software to get a holistic perspective of your B2B situation. You can also check the product comparison site when you’re ready to purchase a solution.
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