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Personalizing Online B2B Transactions
The sector is business-to-business, but sales are made face-to-face, right? Salespeople have to establish trust and build relationships, and that is best done through in-person interactions, whether at trade shows or through visits to client stores and offices. At least, that was how things were until recently. The pandemic necessitated a turn to online-only B2B sales, and while many buyers have come to prefer the ease and convenience of this arrangement, those personal relationships that are so important to building a B2B organization may get lost in an impersonal series of clicks and text boxes. How can B2B businesses maintain personal relationships with buyers throughout an increasingly impersonal process?
The answer is personalization. B2B buyers have become more comfortable buying for their business online because they’re more comfortable with ecommerce both as retailers and as consumers themselves. And because online B2B transactions are driven by the same desires as retail ecommerce, many of the same strategies and techniques that help retailers sell online can be applied to B2B sales.
Even for those who prefer to work face-to-face, they just might not have the time. There’s a good chance your customer is fulfilling more than one job function. Many of us are working harder than ever, and the convenience offered by ecommerce in our private lives helps save a little more time in our day. It’s no different for B2B buyers in the workplace. They have other things to do, so they’ll appreciate a fast and efficient interaction with their supplier.
With more buyers preferring impersonal online transactions, here’s what you can do to personalize the buying experience and build relationships with buyers.
Know Your Customers
Personalization begins with knowing your customers. Are they more focused on finding the lowest cost supplier? Or do they want someone who understands them and their business? Are they the kind of business willing to pay more for great service? This is where technology can play a role in maintaining relationships. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help analyze data and provide insights into customer behavior.
Create personalized catalogs for each customer (or type of customer) containing only the products relevant to them. In the jewelry industry, a diamond supplier might offer a catalog containing only mined diamonds, a catalog containing only lab-grown diamonds, and another containing both. You can provide only the relevant content to each customer, making their job even easier.
Once you understand your customers’ reasons for choosing you, you can separate them into different groups based on that information. Segmenting your customers based on their differing needs allows you to craft your messaging to each group to appeal to those needs.
Segmentation is not just for email campaigns. You can link customers to different landing pages or other web pages based on their industry, the types of inventory they buy from you, or region-specific pricing differences.
Helpful Blog and Social Media Content
One of the main differences between B2C and B2B sales is that B2C shoppers are more influenced by emotion, impulse, and FOMO. B2B buyers, on the other hand, take a longer time weighing all of the pros and cons of each supplier they consider. There’s much more at stake and more pressure to make the right choice.
Use your website, your email lists, and your social media accounts to share helpful, original content with your customers. If you understand their needs and their pain points, you can produce blog or social media posts demonstrating that you can solve their problems. This type of personalization also makes your website more discoverable since buyers searching for their particular needs will be more likely to find your business.
Technology Solutions That Bring People Together
The goal of personalization is to maintain the same kinds of human connections that your salespeople forge through in-person interaction. While technology solutions will drive your online personalization efforts, never forget that the relationship between two businesses is ultimately a relationship between two people, or two groups of people.