Engaging B2B Customers

September 27, 2015 Updated: September 28, 2015

Janet Jackson released “Control” on Feb. 4, 1986. It was her third studio album release and quickly became iconic not only for the music but became a moniker in many societal settings about being in control.

In the business-to-business (B2B) industries, the customer is in control of the buying process and marketers need to first acknowledge this fact prior to engaging this customer.

The purchase cycle for B2B customers tends to be much longer than the average consumer cycle. Many businesses are trying to circumvent this cycle to speed up and close the deal to keep revenue streams flowing.

However, instead of chasing the proverbial tail, there is a smarter way to approach this customer. Take a page from successful consumer businesses: be more concerned about the customer’s needs over what your need is. In other words, follow the customer! Here are a few considerations:

  • Many B2B customers prefer handling the transaction online. Still others prefer not to initiate contact until they are closer to making a decision to purchase. This squarely demonstrates they are “controlling” the process. Plus, it precludes a conversation or explanation on products. It may be best to track this customer and see what they’re reviewing. Then assess how you can stimulate a conversation by providing a solution based on the products being reviewed and ensure proper education of said product.
  • Consider developing multiple strategies. Then concentrate the appropriate messaging based on the variety of customers (buyers) you are targeting. One size does not fit all! A tiered approach is helpful since it would classify the sales potential and better qualifies the lead.
  • As with consumer customers, don’t over-contact! Think about the numerous communications these buyers receive on a daily basis. Each contact with this buyer should be of importance and satisfies a need. Anything short of this is just a waste!

As you work thru your 2016 communications planning, review the other tactics deployed that work. These shouldn’t be tossed aside since obviously results were generated. Then incorporate all or some of the aforementioned thoughts to aid in driving better business results.

Finally, in the lingo of today: “#control” aptly designates that the power in the B2B buying cycle resides with the customer. It would behoove one targeting these customers to remember that.

Adele Lassere is a marketing/advertising consultant with 20+ years experience, freelance writer and author of “Elements of Buying” (self-help advertising guide), available at Amazon.com. Adele was listed as Black Enterprise’s 2011 Top Execs in Marketing & Advertising and Black Enterprise’s 2013 Top Women Executives in Advertising & Marketing. Contact: adelelassere@gmail.com