Too many businesses retreat to lowering prices so they can compete with the avalanche of options available to small businesses for virtually every product or service. The fear is that customers having immediate access to nearly unlimited amounts of information about your vertical makes your product or service a commodity.
However, a recent survey by Chally Group, a global leadership and sales potential and performance measurement firm, asked thousands of businesses why they bought products or solutions, and price didn’t even make it into the top five. Alternatively, total sales team effectiveness took the number one spot, and over half of the respondents (54%) said customer retention is one of their top five challenges.
A survey conducted in 2016 by B2B International revealed that more than 58% of markets said they were now focused on “value marketing” — up significantly from 39% in 2015. This is important because value marketing doesn’t just focus on being the cheapest option, but instead uncovers what your customers are truly looking for: the fact that you’re better than your competition at meeting their needs.
This heightened focus on value, instead of price dropping, not only reflects the difficulty in retaining customers within the B2B world, but also how marketing and sales departments are increasingly being held more accountable for retaining their B2B customers.
Below are 5 ways you can sell your customers on value (not price) to maintain high retention rates:
1. Decide who you don’t want to sell to.
Segmentation entails meeting the needs of different groups of customers to better communicate specifically to them. When developing your customer personas, it’s good to recognize not all potential buyers and users have the same value. Segmentation helps you prioritize audiences to target and which companies not to do business with. This helps you allocate your budget appropriately, providing the highest return on investment possible.
2. Talk to your customers.
As in, face to face. Recognizing what the customer really wants, before they start shopping around with your competitors, is critical to developing a long-term marketing strategy. This goes beyond net-promoter score benchmarks. How easy was it to set-up and use your product? Do they understand the full benefits of everything your product has to offer? Do you check back in a few months later to find out what has changed?
You can use these face-to-face meetings not just as a tool to better understand your customer, but also understand how they use your product, where there may be room for improvement, and educates the customer on additional benefits they may not be aware of. While the task of meeting with your customers may seem overwhelming to coordinate, a sales and marketing outsourcing firm already has the structure and processes in place to help you coordinate and implement a field engagement strategy faster than you can internally.
3. Sell an experience, not a product.
Business-to-business audiences are looking for solutions to their problems, such as customized products, a faster service, higher productivity, or ease of use. They already have access to information online, including product reviews and pricing. Forrester estimated that 70-90% of the buyer’s journey is complete prior to engaging a vendor. You can’t appeal to them by providing more information. You have to understand them individually, then appeal to their need to solve a problem that you identified in your engagement with them.
4. Build and protect your brand.
A strong B2B brand is among your company’s biggest assets, as it provides credibility and differentiation, supporting price positioning. During your face-to-face customer meetings, ensure that the representatives working on your behalf are fulling trained on communicating and delivering value to the customer, as well as delivering on the brand promise. Monitor what they are saying and if it resonates with customers so that you can adjust messaging as needed.
5. Embrace agile thinking.
In order for value marketing and selling to succeed, it needs to be tested, implemented, retested, and perfected. In traditional marketing, there is heavy emphasis on process and planning. Meanwhile sales is divided from marketing, and marketing is focused on volume-focused KPIs. While process is absolutely necessary in order to measure effective delivery, the implementation should be flexible enough to allow for change when it becomes clear that customers are not responding, or market penetration is not meeting your goals. By allowing for flexibility within your organization, you can more quickly meet your revenue goals while still maintaining the integrity of your original message through the processes you have created.
Value marketing and selling requires a reversal on the traditional marketing and selling approach, with marketers joining salespeople at the forefront of the business, and a longer-term outlook from the top down.
As services and value become more and more important to the B2B buyer, brands will continue to need to find the right mix of brand content, pricing strategies, and values to leverage. Of course, more customer interaction generally offers more potential visibility and more clarity into the importance that brands place the right message in front of the right buyer at the right time in the cycle. Being able to meet customer needs at every stage of the buyer journey will create the brand advocates and retention numbers B2B marketers desire.
Want more? Click here to download our white paper entitled ‘5 Innovative Ways to Kill B2B Churn’ for more information.
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