Selling to customers is one thing, but finding effective ways to sell to businesses is quite another. Businesses have different criteria to customers on whether or not to buy a product, meaning that generic B2C sales tactics just won’t cut it in the B2B market. B2B companies need a new approach: one that actually speaks to their target audience.
Be clever in your pricing
Pricing is something that businesses have traditionally found tough to get right. Price too low, and your customers suspect that you might be cutting quality. Price too high and you’ll lose out to your competitors.
Pricing for B2B businesses needs to be in the “Goldilocks zone,” not too high and not too low. Of course, there are companies, like Apple, that get away with charging high prices in the consumer space, usually because people want to be seen with the latest and greatest smartphones. But in the B2B space, there’s less interest in branding and more interest in what your company can deliver for a given price. In other words, you’re a means to an end and not an end in itself.
It’s a good idea, therefore, to do some research on your target business. If you supply high-end hotels and restaurants with food, then you might want to go in high to help convince your clients that you’re delivering the very finest quality food to their establishments. High prices, even in the B2B sector, have to be coupled with a high quality of service, helping to justify the price premium.
You may find, however, that the businesses you supply aren’t interested in a premium or a luxury experience. Their main concern is keeping costs down. If that’s the case, then it’s still possible to charge a higher price than your competitors, so long as you are able to save the client money in the long run. To take a crude example; suppose you supply lubricating oil to workshops to help maintain their equipment. If your oil is more expensive than your competitors’, then it should have some other benefit over and above the oils already on the market. For instance, your oil might cost more to buy today, but it will help companies maintain their machinery for longer, lowering their long-run costs.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that brand value is a major contributor to the price that you can charge. Companies, like individual consumers, are willing to pay a premium over generic brands if they think that they are getting high quality and a product that they can trust in return.
Offer a business reward programme
Businesses are based on relationships. And like most relationships, there needs to be a degree of reciprocity for them to work. “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” B2C businesses regularly incentivise their customers to shop with them, offering reward cards for everything from coffee to air miles. B2B companies, however, haven’t yet cottoned onto the power of business reward programmes and are, therefore, missing out.
There are all sorts of ways to incentivise customers to keep coming back to you. B2B companies, for example, could offer discounts to clients based on the number of years that they use their service. For instance, they could get a five percent discount in the second year, a ten percent discount in the third year and so on, just for being a loyal customer.
B2B businesses can also offer their customers reward points for doing business with them. For instance, American Express gives its B2B customers air miles every time they use its cards in transactions.
Finally, businesses can offer bulk discounts, whether it’s for a service or an actual product. Firms that supply paint to construction companies, for instance, could provide discounts dependent on the number of paint tins a company orders. Equally, training companies could offer discounts based on how many staff a company sends to get trained.
Send gifts, such as gift baskets
Everybody loves to receive gifts, even the owners and staff of an existing business. One excellent way to get a whole team excited and talking about your business is to send them a gift basket, full to the brim with delicious treats. Clients love things like wine and chocolate gift hampers, especially around the holiday season and after they’ve been working hard to get a project completed.
The cool thing about sending gift baskets is that they can be customised to include a unique message from your company, a relatively new brand that offers this is Under Fine Wraps. Not only will this help to solidify your relationship with your client, but it’ll also make you appear more thoughtful.
Hammer home your unique USP
To be successful, every company needs a unique selling point, or USP, even in the B2B market. It’s not enough just to be another accounting company or packaging company: there needs to be something that sets your business apart, otherwise, customers will gravitate to the people already in the industry.
Many companies make themselves unique by offering an additional layer of service that businesses really appreciate. For instance, some plumbing companies have 24-hour hotlines, enabling their business clients to call them day or night – whenever they have a problem.
If you are a virtual office company, you could offer more than just office suites in a swanky downtown location. For instance, you could provide remote administration assistance and printing and promise to deliver all physical items the following working day.
Another unique selling point is knowing what it’s talking about. Businesses know that there are a lot of charlatans out there: people pretending to have amazing products but who really don’t. An excellent way to assuage this concern is to develop your own white papers, e-books, blogs and other marketing material designed to convince other businesses that you are the real deal. The best way to do this is to create content that deals with complicated subject matter related to your industry. The content should assist clients with their problems as well as convince them that you are an expert in your field.