Before we talk about B2B customer retention strategies, let’s get a little background on the situation.
Most marketers and B2B sales teams have more than one goal or objective at any given point of time. So, if you were to ask them what their most important objective was, it would be difficult to answer. Still, B2B lead generation is considered as one of the essential marketing activities for your organization’s growth. After all, through lead generation activities, it becomes possible to acquire new lucrative prospects for your organization.
While lead generation is already supremely important to your B2B business’s growth, you can’t possibly ignore the clients that you already have.
As enticing and attractive as new sales are, they shouldn’t get all your attention. These shouldn’t distract you from working with your existing customers as well. In fact, statistics show that when B2B customer retention strategies are boosted by even 5%, it can increase the overall revenue by anywhere between 25% to 95%.
The Importance of B2B Customer Retention Strategies
As a B2B marketer, if you focus too much on customer acquisition while ignoring your existing customers, business is bound to suffer. According to Gallup, almost 71% of B2B customers were willing and ready to take their business elsewhere. Additionally, it costs up to five to ten time more to acquire a new customer than to do business with an existing customer.
In the B2B scenario, things are different as compared to the B2C scenario. Here, customer pools are much smaller, and markets are niche. So this means that even if you were to lose one customer, the losses would be more significant. In such a scenario, it becomes supremely essential to employ the right customer retention strategies.
B2B customer retention strategies ensure that keeping your most successful customers is not something that you have to plan for additionally. Such policies aim at incorporating customer retention right from the beginning. Generally, B2B customer retention strategies ensure that the turnover rate of a company’s already existing customers is not affected.
Let’s take a look at some useful tips and B2B customer retention strategies that can help you with your retention endeavours.
Start By Identifying and Then Categorizing Buyers
No matter what type of business you preside over, customer metrics are important. These techniques help you measure the value that customers bring to you and vice versa. They exist to help you be a step ahead when it comes to customer buying patterns and buying behaviour.
The most critical step for building robust B2B customer retention strategies is a keen understanding of your customers. The best place to start, perhaps, is by understanding the category that your customers belong to. In the B2B scenario, there are two types of customer accounts – big-fish accounts and small-fish accounts.
Usually, small buyers are not doing business with you out of a sense of loyalty. In most cases, this type of buyers only cares about one thing – price. Such buyers are most likely to respond to deals, discounts and offers. However, since they are just looking for a lucrative price deal, they’ll happily switch sellers. This phenomenon is a good deal if you offer you products and services at unbelievably low prices. However, placing your faith in such customers in the long-term is a bad idea.
On the other hand, with big-fish customers, aren’t volatile in their buying approach. Usually, big-fish buyers are in it for the long run. Additionally, such accounts are more likely to keep buying from a seller who invests in building trust, has a strong brand presence, and offers excellent customer service. In most cases, B2B sellers sell products and services that need them to work with customers from the beginning of the purchase process, right until installation. So, the chances of having a majority of small-fish customers in your customer pool are low.
In any case, when you categorize your buyers, it becomes easy to understand what pulled them in. Once you realize what category your buyers belong you, you’ll know exactly what to offer. This understanding helps create formidable B2B customer retention strategies that work very well.
Show Them That You Care For Their Brand As Much As You Care For Your Own
One fundamental strategy of retaining valuable customers is by showing them that you care. It goes without saying that brands prefer doing business with organizations that demonstrate a keen interest in their growth and development. Your buyers will certainly notice if you put in extra efforts to help them succeed. Moreover, such activities go to show that your customer relationship doesn’t end once your customers complete their purchase.
In the ideal scenario, your B2B customer retention strategies should involve a plan for demonstrating that you care for the brands with whom you partner up.
You can do this by maintaining a comprehensive list of your best accounts and regularly sending them useful resources. For example, if you have a client from the shipping industry, automatically send them tickets to expos and relevant events. Additionally, post across any useful content that you believe helps them. This enhances your own brand’s credibility and also assures them that you care for them for more than business transactions.
When B2B buyers feel that doing business with you benefits them in more ways than one, there are fewer chances that they will flock to your competition.
Maintain a Consistent and Strong Brand Voice
When it comes to buying, customer’s will trust you more if they don’t constantly receive mixed messages from you. If your customers feel like you’re confused about what you want to say, it could be dangerous. Moreover, effective customer communication becomes difficult to achieve without a unanimous brand voice.
The first requirement for discovering this voice is ensuring that all of the departments in your organization work in harmony. This means that they are working holistically on the true objectives. When you have this kind of balance within your organization, buyers are more likely to register a positive brand perception. Additionally, in the B2B scenario, your buyers are more likely to deal with various departments of your organization. Consequently, when customers experience a consistent, positive interaction, they will want to continue associating with you.
If you’re struggling with this point, you may need to first delegate responsibility correctly within your company. Sometimes, this may mean that some departments and their responsibilities may have to overlap. For example, the Sales team may have to take on some tasks that are predominantly Customer Service reps’ duty. This may require you to rearrange job descriptions a little, but it offers the customer a very seamless and smooth experience.
Statistics show that only around 29% of B2B customers actively engage with companies that they do business with. This means that a huge chunk of 71% may be ready to jump ship. This number may be huge, but it only goes to show how urgently you B2B customer retention strategies need to focus on delivering consistent, positive customer experiences.
Focus on Delivering Exceptional Customer Experiences To Boost Your B2B Customer Retention Strategies
Most B2B Customer Retention Strategies focus on customer loyalty. After all, if your customers don’t feel a sense of loyalty, what incentive do they have to stay onboard? At its core, customer loyalty is born out of skilled account management activities. This is truer when we consider organizations operating in a saturated B2B market. In such scenarios, the candidate that most effectively ensure its customers’ happiness will win.
You will notice that in most cases, the product that performs the best among customers may not necessarily be the best on all fronts. However, they tend to be the most customer-centric of the lot. Such products look into solving the most significant problems that customers first. Only then do they move on to adding innovative, futuristic add-ons to boost the product’s value and utility.
Your B2B customer retention strategies should include a plan that starts at on-boarding and continues until customers get the complete hang of your product. Primarily, your B2B customer retention strategies should focus on delivering exceptional customer service to each account.
Are your products and services delivering on promises? Are you under or over-promising? How can you bridge the gap between the promise you made and the product you will provide?
Answering these questions consistently ensures that your customers’ journeys are free from friction, no matter how little. Additionally, even a small percentage of dissatisfaction could sway your customer account and lead them to your competitor. So, to prevent this, ensure that your B2B customer retention strategies make provisions for delivering account-based customer experiences for maximum satisfaction.
Organize or Attend Events That Focus on Training, Advocacy or Education
Virtually everything is now done online. Most B2C processes are jumping towards digitalization. While even B2B buying processes are changing, the importance of in-person events is still unmatched.
Such events are a great way of networking and connecting with other brands, potential clients and prospects. Moreover, they act an exciting setting to promote and reward customer loyalty. You can also use these type of events to introduce or launch new products, run beta tests, get consumer feedback, or even showcase your best success stories.
With events that are specific to your industry, product or service type, they bring you closer to the right target group. Even if you don’t actively sell much, your existing customers will be reinforced about your brand’s worth when you participate.
For startups and smaller B2B companies, these events may be a great way to gauge and promote brand awareness among their customers. On the other hand, for B2B products or services that are embedded in your client’s every day, it gives you an opportunity to reach out and reinforce your communication and value. Engaging with people at in-person events helps you gain valuable insight and data that can be used later for delivering highly personalized customer experiences.
DreamForce is one of the largest and most popular SaaS conferences. Organized by SalesForce, this event caters to the industries that this Saas company services. The primary aim of this event is to develop and nurture a sense of loyalty among its users. A big-brand inevitably organizes the event. However, since it offers such an impressive experience, it has grown and become an entity in itself. Moreover, this event’s popularity has in turn boosted customer retention and loyalty rated for SalesForce as a brand.
B2B Customer Retention Strategies Demand Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing refers to marketing to customers or buyer accounts by treating them as markets of one. Instead of generalizing or assuming what your prospects want, this approach addresses each account as unique. Basically, you don’t sit and imagine what your client or prospect might need. Instead, you ask them and strive to bring in a personalized experience that appeals to them.
This type of personalized marketing demands a clear focus and a unique approach for each or account. Imagine how things would change as your approach to marketing changed. When you offer bespoke service to your most valuable clients, they will be less likely to move to your competitor. Additionally, when your B2B customer retention strategies employ ABM; the environment is perfect for delivering a customer experience that goes above and beyond.
Sure, this may sound intimidating and difficult to scale, especially for B2B startups. However, ABM is a niche activity and should only be reserved for your best accounts.
Implement Customer Segmentation and Divide Customers into Tiers
Customer segmentation refers to dividing up existing or potential customers into groups. These groups (called segments) usually have a common characteristic based on budgets, organization strength, age, gender etc. By segmenting your market and customer base accurately, your marketing efforts get concentrated on those who are most likely to respond to what you offer.
The best place to start is by creating an Ideal Customer Profile’ ICP. Ideal customer profiles refer to a type of marketing segmentation wherein you determine the characteristics that make a person qualify as your target audience.
Well-crafted ICPs offer insights that guide you regarding whom to say ‘yes’ to and whom to say ‘no’ to. Sure, startups may not have the possibility of denying service to any clients. However, when you focus working with ICPs, you get more rewards for every effort that you put in. If you think that the prospects are not suitable for your business then not showing affirmation will help you save time, money and resources.
Another approach is to segregate your customers into tiers or levels based on useful factors. What is helpful to your organization will differ. Usually, factors like spending capacity, the value of last purchase, subscription status etc. will prove valuable. Such segmentation helps the Sales team navigate the customer’s pain points and any objections that customers might have during purchasing. On the other hand, it helps the Marketing team craft accurate messaging, content, and communication for your customer base.
Having such segmentation and qualification also helps you streamline any loyalty programs that you have.
Share Success Stories
We’re a B2B company too. Moreover, trust us, the value of your customers talking about how you help them is incomparable. When we rolled out our case studies on Rombii and Spoonity, the response was positive in every way. We found some clients through word-of-mouth and referrals, and we even added to our credibility.
Case studies are the best option to appeal to your customers and showcase your achievements. It will give you recognition and will create an impressive image in the eyes of the customers. It has been proven that case studies can work well for your business if presented aptly.
Another option to woo your customers is praise. Essentially, lauding them, in a way, is lauding your business. Some entities showcase their customers’ success stories in their content they frequently release, and some have a page devoted to it on their website. The only thing to take care while praising your customers is that the praise should be relevant and justified.
Continuous Exposure of Customers to Content
The more your customers know about your products, the more easily they can advocate for your company. It is essential for your customer to know about your product as they are the first-hand user and the crusaders of your company. So continuously educating them and exposing them to the right content can, in turn, benefit you in the long run. Frequent updates about your product will help the customers to know the product they are using better and thus provide word-of-the-mouth marketing of your product.
In line with the recognition, case studies are a great content path to pursue. When your users understand how other users utilize and optimize your products and services, the returns will be huge. Furthermore, case studies are a great way of marketing to customers and showcasing your prowess.
Some B2B companies prefer dedicating a part of their website to featuring content for existing customers. This is usually akin to an education series. On the other hand, other companies prefer scheduling success stories and case studies as a part of their regular content schedule.
Look at what works best for your unique customer base. Then, craft a content plan as part of your B2B customer retention strategies.
As is the case with B2B, discounts are a fantastic way to attract customers and ensure that existing customers continue purchasing. This phenomenon is most widely noticed where B2B customers behave like consumers and where price tends to be a deciding factor. Discounts are also lucrative for B2B companies where customers avail products and services on a per-transaction basis, as opposed to signing long-term contracts.
In the case of high-ticket accounts, discounts will entice them to stay on-board your organization’s ship. Moreover, it may also push them towards signing into your loyalty or rewards program.
However, while discounts are amazing, they shouldn’t jeopardize your pricing strategy. Your B2B customer retention strategies should ever eat into returns from other avenues. By offering too many discounts, too often, you may end up devaluing your product in the long run.
Ideal B2B Customer Retention Strategies – Tying It All Together
While the tips we’ve shared above will surely help, there is still one key piece of the puzzle that remains to put it all together.
The answer to finding success with B2B customer retention strategies lies in data. More importantly, good quality, correct, reliable and verified data.
When you set out to achieve any marketing goal or objective, you will surely reach out to people. Sure, sometimes they will be prospects or new leads, and at others, they will be your existing or past customers. However, in any case, you need perfect customer information for maximum success. Your data assets are vital for the success of your B2B customer retention strategies.
Are you overwhelmed by the proposition of maintaining data in its most perfect and updated condition? So are most B2B companies.
At BizProspex, we are backed by 8+ years of experience with manual data mining, list building, CRM data cleaning, tech append services, skip tracing, data solution and direct-dial appending services. Needless to say, we have the best solutions for your everyday data maintenance problems. Our team of skilled researchers and analysts is always ready to assist you with our services.
If you’re serious about fixing your B2B customer retention strategies and processes, get in touch with us today. Avail a free 120% money-back guarantee demo today!