In the B2B (business-to-business) industry, acquiring customers isn’t something that happens overnight. Unlike its B2C counterpart where sales are dominated by a plethora of small transactions, B2B companies can be made or broken by a few key client relationships.
With customers in B2B having so much value, it’s no surprise the demand to acquire this business is sky high. Some companies spend thousands or even millions of dollars trying to “woo”, or court, prospective customers to their business. There’s numerous tactics out there on how to potentially win those key business deals but, if you choose the wrong ones, it can lead to chaos and turmoil for a company.
With all of this said, here are a few ways to successfully woo B2B customers.
Entice your current customers to woo friends on your behalf – One of the best ways of appealing to brand new prospective customers is by not saying a word yourself. Especially in smaller industries, it can feel like everyone knows each other. Leverage these relationships to help drive new business and let your customers do the sweet talking for you. If needed, some companies offer a referral bonus to current customers who help bring in new business. This happens sometimes with a cash-value item like a gift card or, what many businesses prefer, through a discounted rate on their next contract. You want to keep the customers that are helping you acquire new business.
Encourage your team to be authentic, transparent, and original – Nobody likes to get the “run around” in life, especially in the business world where time is money. Instead, place value on your employees being as authentic and transparent as possible. This doesn’t mean giving away trade secrets, but instead be up front with any pricing concerns that may arise as prospects are evaluating your business. Nobody likes a “bait and switch” scenario, and honest leadership usually trickles down into every employee in the company. This is essential to any successful business relationship. In addition, to woo a company or decision maker, you often need to stand out and be different. Just because you see your competitors doing something one way or adhering to a best practice doesn’t mean you need to follow suit. Don’t be afraid to try something different and make a lasting memory.
Always listen closely and respond with a positive attitude – Once you’ve impressed and have the ear of a decision maker, it’s time to listen to them closely. When trying to woo new B2B customers, it’s common that the prospect will vent to you their frustrations with their current solution provider. During this process, it can be easy to “jump in” and trash your competition. Avoid this tactic at all costs because even though it makes your competitor look bad, it can make your company appear as worse. Instead, let them talk and truly listen to their tone and how they feel. From here, approach their frustrations with a positive attitude on how you can resolve them. Acknowledge how their current provider may have wronged them, but keep the conversation focused on their business and their improvement, regardless of whether they decide to become a customer. This shows you are truly attempting to understand the unique needs they face every single day.
Be proactive and inclusive with communication – Just like in life, sometimes you can’t afford to stand still. Even if you’ve had great conversations with a prospect in the past but the timing wasn’t right, don’t sit around waiting for them to reach out for your services. People like to be included, so invite prospective customers to client events and let them mingle with other current customers who love you. It’s one thing when you talk about how great your company is, it’s another when their industry peers are giving you praise.
Stay persistent and don’t give up on prospects easily – Especially in B2B where extended sales cycles are common, it can be easy to get discouraged when attempting to woo new customers. You may have done everything right in courting them but for one or several reasons the prospect just isn’t ready to sign on the dotted line. The key is to keep your head up and to remain top of mind with the potential customer. Make a schedule of when to follow up and reference that their contract with your competitor is coming up soon. This ensures that not only are you remembering them, but you cared enough to listen when they told you not to bother them about their contract for several months or even years. A CRM solution and customer support software can work in conjunction to help with tracking communication in relation to prospects.
Provide potential customers ways to learn about you on their own time – In a world where seemingly everyone texts their friends and family and fewer voice conversations are happening, it’s important to be persistent but not annoying. Let customers discover you by staying top of mind without having to pick up a phone or send an email. Keep your brand in front of them by advertising online at trade sites they visit and showing up in organic search results with relevant blog content when they Google a generic industry question. These touchpoints may not seem like they are moving the needle, but every time you positively benefit a potential customer the chances of you successfully wooing them increases.
Leverage strategic partnerships to give your company more credibility – This is an excellent tactic if previous initiatives to woo a prospect were unsuccessful. Even though partnerships are often formed to meet customer demands, this is a nice additional benefit. To illustrate further, let’s use a real-life example. Sometimes you will meet someone at an industry event and maybe for whatever reason you just don’t hit it off. That’s life and you move on. Later that evening, you run into a good friend and you meet the same person again that you talked to at the event. Because they are with your friend, naturally you become more drawn to the person and interested in them. Why? Because your friend, who has an opinion you value, has added new credibility to this person by associating with them on their own time. The same ideology applies for business partnerships because forming them can add legitimacy by having a direct association to a specific company. By finding the right businesses to partner with, it can reignite interest in your company and potentially give you another chance to woo a prospect who may have opted for a competitor in the past.
Robert C. Johnson, CEO and Co-Founder, TeamSupport
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