What Is a B2B Customer? Definition & What to Keep In Mind
When dealing with customers, it is believed that companies that focus exclusively on B2B aren’t investing much time and effort in customer service. A myth that can be easily debunked by pointing to an Accenture report, which states that 95% of B2B customers receive dedicated support, compared to 46% of B2C customers.
The reason for focusing so much on support, and generally taking care of a B2B customer, is simple: those companies know that they have to increase the customer lifetime value, and get the most out of their investment. After all, they’ve spent a considerable amount of time, effort and money on customer acquisition.
This is something we’re very familiar with here at SPP. We have also invested a lot in customer support and other activities B2B customers appreciate. Let’s take a closer look at who they are, what they want and value, and how they are different from their B2C counterparts.
The difference between a B2B and B2C customer
A business-to-business relationship is fundamentally different from a business-to-consumer one. Everything from the way you offer your product and services to the customer experience and customer needs has to be approached with care and patience.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the customer journey for a B2B clients is much more complex, and often times, longer. They are usually looking for complex solutions to solve their problems, and generally open to spend large amounts of money to reach their goal. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be happy with the first opportunity they come across. By now you should have realized that you need to show a lot of patience, learn when to follow up with your B2B leads, and target their needs and wants.
Below, I’ve created a table that highlights the major differences between B2B and B2C clients.
|Large budget, high dollar amount
|Small budget, lower dollar amount
|Sales process is relationship-driven
|Service/product-driven sales process
|Multiple people involved in buying decisions
|Individuales/households make purchase decisions
|Buyers are highly rational
|Impulse decisions are the norm
|Purchases have long-term goals
|Gratification is a major purchase reason
3 things a B2B customer values
The aforementioned Accenture study brings out a few key points I want to highlight so that it’s easier for you to understand who you’re dealing with.
Being heard: B2B customers who feel heard are 37% more likely to make another purchase. If they provide product/service feedback, take it into account.
Being proactively served: Many companies only reactively solve customer issues. This is a missed opportunity as the younger generation is open to paying more for proactive support (Gen Z: 74%, Millennials: 72%).
Being supported: 95% of B2B customers receive some sort of dedicated support, often from their own customer success manager. This results in an increased value perception, leading to a higher likeliness to purchase a new product or service.
Now that you know what your clients want, let’s look at the next step in making sure that you build solid customer relationships that last for years.
Why you should create a B2B customer profile
Understanding who your customers are and what they want is crucial for B2B companies looking to be successful. One way to shed light on those buying services or products from you is with a so-called customer profile.
Now, you might’ve heard about buyer personas already, and are wondering: is there a difference? Some use the terms interchangeably, but a buyer persona requires a different outline. Let’s look at a concrete example to make things easier.
B2B buyer persona example: John from North America who is a content manager. Due to his workload, he’s struggling to manage a team of freelance writers, and would like to outsource the content writing to an agency. His budget is about $5,000 per month.
B2B customer profile example: A Head of Content person for a US-based SaaS in the finance sector who has a budget of $180,000 to scale their content output this year, and expects to generate five high-quality leads per month in the future.
The customer profile is usually based on data you already have (from current and past clients), while the buyer persona is created from industry data.
Benefits of customer profiles
Your marketing team will enjoy the biggest benefit if you spend some time on generating customer profiles for them. In many companies, marketing team members don’t have access to data to build them on their own, so by helping them, you:
Make lead generation easier. Your team knows who to target, and how to adjust the messaging.
Improve lead qualification. If you’ve accepted any lead in the past hoping they would be a great customer, now you can turn them down easily if they don’t fit your ideal customer profile.
Write better content. Broad topics generate a lot of traffic, but it’s not targeted, making it hard to qualify leads. From now on, you can write for your audience.
Another benefit is related to advertising. If you plan to advertise content writing services, and know your ideal customer is a SaaS in the finance sector, you’ll be able to target them with the right keywords.
Metrics to improve your B2B customer engagement
The way companies engage with their customers depends on a variety of factors, one of them is if they are a B2B or B2C customer.
If you engage with other businesses, you need to be patient, have your strategy clearly planned out, and think long-term.
Grow your industry knowledge
To get an overview of your current B2B customer engagement, take a lot at the following metrics:
Open your website tracking software and check the time spent on each page. A short visit might indicate that there are some underlying issues, especially for long-form content.
Is your reply-rate for cold email outreach low? You might be targeting the wrong B2B customers, or the messaging could be off.
Social media is a tricky medium as most companies don’t have time to engage with your content. You should still keep an eye on your social content performance to see if your audience finds it useful.
Are your customers coming back to purchase more services or products? If not, you might be struggling with your client retention.
Check up on your metrics every month, and automate report generation, so you stay up-to-date with your customer engagement. And of course, don’t forget to save all the information in a client relationship system.
Know your B2B customers
With the information provided in this post, I hope you’ve learned more about who B2B customers are, and how you can serve them. Remember to be patient with them as their customer journey is long, and create ideal client profiles to better target your preferred buyers.