There’s a characteristic of B2B business is that is important to understand:
A customer is not a purchase, and a purchase is not a customer.
Your customers aren’t a one-time transaction. Typically with B2B it’s this longer, more involved motion, both before and after the purchase.
Understanding this can make all the difference in delivering an effective marketing program in your business.
I want to talk about three R’s of B2B marketing that can help you play the long game and take full advantage of this very important dynamic.
Impulse purchases are rare in a business-to-business environment. They can happen, but typically the purchase decisions are thoughtful and involve a lot of time.
Not only that, there is usually more than one person involved in the decision. It’s a buying team, and that team has to come together and agree to purchase from you.
So relationship is a key element of a successful B2B deal.
That’s because purchase doesn’t come on a whim and it doesn’t come from just facts.
It comes from consideration of you as a partner for them. Because when they buy, not only is the decision itself not quick, the consumption of that product or service more often than not takes months or years.
It could even be that the customer is going to buy repeatedly from you over time.
So you have to prioritize the relationship. Often it has more value in the decision than any product specifications.
The second R is related: reliability.
I’m not talking about product or solution reliability – although they are subsets of this.
What I’m talking about is your customer trusting you to be who they expect you to be. This is like a “reliable partner.”
Trust comes from consistency.
Consistency comes from integrity – doing what you need to do to be who you truly are. Taking a stand, fulfilling your expectations for your business.
And Integrity is motivated by purpose.
That’s a long way of saying the key to success in B2B is to be really clear on who your company is, why you exist and what you do for your target customers.
Having that thoughtfully understood, communicated and documented within your company will ensure that everybody works together on the same page – over time, over geography and over different functions.
All of these pieces work together to grow trust and reliability with your customer.
All of this effort we’ve been talking about makes B2B marketing a long-term game.
It’s a marathon, starting long before your customers buy from you and continuing on as they use your product over time.
The good news is that the payoff is also long-term.
If you gain a customer that trusts you and over time builds a strong relationship with you, you’re going to have advocates that will go out of their way to tell other people about you – even when you’re not in the room.
That pays off in a big way for a long time. It’s worth the effort!
At the end of the day, your best salesperson is a happy customer.