B2B companies that embrace customer-centricity perform better.
The benefits of customer-centric marketing and selling have long been apparent in the B2C world. While some B2B sales and marketing leaders have been striving to become more customer-centric for some time, we are thrilled to see this becoming an urgent imperative for most B2SMB executives.
To put this into numbers, a recent Gallup study found that business units with high customer engagement scores outperform those with low scores by at least 30% across six key outcomes:
Customer-Centricity for B2B
Customer-centricity goes beyond the basics of improving customer support, problem resolution, and personalization. It also requires B2SMB leaders to design strategies and processes that create a culture of understanding of the SMB market and evolving best practices for how to serve it. As Gallup put it, B2SMB firms that wish to increase customer impact should:
- know their customers’ businesses as well as or better than their customers do
- bring customers new ideas that help them do their jobs better
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
When thinking about how your business can best engage SMBs, ask yourself the following two questions:
Are we creating a culture of helping?
What does helping mean? For B2SMB brands, it means proactively identifying and delivering ideas that SMBs need to capitalize on opportunities and mitigate challenges.
As a first step, be sure to define how your marketing can contribute to helping SMBs. One way to do this is to ensure your content really teaches SMBs something new that they will value—information that goes beyond the obvious—which builds trust and generates demand.
“Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off.” -Philip Kotler
An approach that focuses on helping engages tomorrow’s buyers, while also seeking to accelerate today’s. This is more important than ever, since SMB buyers typically first reach out to vendors when they are already ⅔ of the way through the buying journey (Gartner). With a help-first approach, you can reach them much earlier in the journey, when they are just starting to look for ideas on how to do things better.
The same approach should be used by salespeople. The best salespeople, those not only with strong revenue numbers, but also whose clients have high lifetime values, win business by helping their customers.
Do we truly know our customer?
At a recent B2SMB Institute event, one of the speakers asked a roomful of sales and marketing leaders, “Who here personally knows more than 5 business owners?” Less than one-third of the audience raised their hands.
If you don’t understand SMBs’ motivations, concerns, and decision-making processes, it is nearly impossible to be in a position to help them. You’re also unlikely to be able to create messaging that truly engages them. This is the case even if you have a creative partner, because that partner is getting their briefs from your team.
To really understand the SMB market, your team needs to go beyond data and broad-brush customer profiles. See this recent post for ideas on how your team can better get to know SMBs.
A customer-centric approach is rapidly becoming table stakes for B2SMB companies. Whether your company is close to becoming customer-centric or has a way to go, start by asking the questions above to guide you in becoming the SMB brand of choice.
Get insights and tips for marketing to small and midsize businesses from the people who speak SMB.