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Main Challenges in B2B Customer Journey

At the core of many profit-driven developments and applications is customer satisfaction. Paying attention to customer satisfaction increases brand loyalty and enhances LTV (Lifetime Value). A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that acquiring a new customer costs on average 5 to 25 times more than retaining an existing one. Another study by Frederick Reichheld from Bain & Company suggested that just a 5% increase in customer loyalty can boost profits by between 25% and 95%. So, what challenges might we encounter while improving our business and increasing customer satisfaction? What are the potential problems for a more advanced B2B experience?

Let’s take a look together.

The difficulty of B2B customer journeys varies significantly based on the specific characteristics of the business and industry, the complexity of the product or service sold, the size of the target market, and the particular strategies employed. Some sectors are more complex than others. For instance, selling B2B products that require specialized knowledge like industrial machines can be harder due to the technical knowledge required. Or, if the B2B sales cycle is long and involves multiple decision-makers, maintaining this process and retaining the interest of all stakeholders can be more challenging than usual. The level of competition in the B2B space significantly impacts the difficulty of the customer journey. Highly competitive markets will require more effort and resources to stand out. Offering customized solutions, a way to get ahead in this competitiveness, can be quite challenging to maintain profitability and efficiency if frequently demanded by customers.

In summary, the challenge of the B2B customer journey depends on the specific conditions of the business and industry. It requires a deep understanding of these challenges, alongside a strategy tailored to address the unique difficulties of the sector. In this article, we will discuss some potential problems you might face in your B2B journey.

Complex Purchase Process

The complex purchasing process in the B2B customer journey typically consists of a series of steps involving multiple decision-makers and influencers, where the decision-making process is phased and intricate. The complexity of this process can vary between different companies and industries. B2B purchasing processes start with the identification of a need or problem. A company determines its need for a product or service or discovers an issue in its current operational processes.

Following the identification of the need, company decision-makers start researching product or service options. At this stage, they conduct detailed research, reviewing various suppliers’ products and services, checking references, and analyzing the market. Therefore, determining who is involved in which decision-making process at this stage is crucial.

The company then begins to request proposals for a specific product or service. Suppliers participate in this process to present their proposals, and typically at this stage, negotiations are made regarding pricing, features, and terms of the agreement. Once the proposals are gathered, company decision-makers evaluate them. During this phase, factors such as cost-benefit analysis, suitability of the product or service, and the supplier’s history and reliability are considered.

Decision-makers might negotiate on the proposals. Discussions are held on the price, payment terms, and other details of the agreement. Upon approval and purchase, the company finalizes the agreement with the chosen supplier and acquires the product or service.

Finally, at the end of the purchasing process, companies assess the performance of the product or service and provide feedback to the supplier. This feedback is crucial for shaping future business relationships.

Since this purchasing process involves multiple stages and participants, it can be challenging for suppliers and sales teams to understand and manage this process effectively to stand out in the competitive environment. Information provided, communication, and customer relationship management at every stage are vital for a successful B2B sales process.

Building Trust

The importance of building relationships and trust in B2B sales cannot be underestimated. According to research by LinkedIn, 76% of B2B customers stated that the decision to buy a product from a seller is based on the seller’s trustworthiness and reputation. Another study by Salesforce revealed that 82% of B2B customers view the necessity of working with multiple vendors during the purchasing process as a significant challenge and emphasized the need to build strong relationships with each company.

Brand Awareness and Initial Interaction: The trust-building process starts from the moment a customer notices a company or brand. This can happen through a website, social media, email campaigns, or other marketing channels. It is essential for a company to project a trustworthy and professional image during these initial interactions.

Sharing Information and Value: When initiating a relationship with a customer, it’s essential to inform them by sharing valuable content and information. This can be done through resources like blog posts, e-books, webinars, or industry reports.

Personalization: During interactions with a customer, paying attention to their specific needs and expectations is crucial. Personalized solutions and communication enhance the trust a customer feels towards a company.

References and Case Studies: An important way to build trust is by sharing past customer success stories and references. This shows potential customers the real-world applications of a company’s products or services.

Communication: Establishing reliable and honest communication with customers lays the foundation for a long-term relationship. Reliability in delivering promised services and products is critical.

Customer Support and Service: The process of building trust continues even after the sale. Good customer support and service amplify customer satisfaction and reinforce their trust.

Long-term Relationship Management: Building trust isn’t limited to the first sale. Companies should manage long-term relationships with customers and address their needs.

Feedback and Improvement: Evaluating feedback from customers and continuously improving products or services boosts the customer’s trust in a company.

Being Prepared for Crisis: In the event of any crisis or issue, it’s crucial for a company to respond swiftly and effectively to maintain customer trust.

Building trust requires time and a long-term perspective. Earning a customer’s trust is a critical component of success in a competitive B2B environment, and the steps in this process must be carefully managed.

Data Management

The data management process plays a pivotal role in B2B customer journeys because correct and effective data management lays the foundation for building trust, offering personalized experiences, and establishing successful customer relationships.

For a long time, businesses were under the misconception that ‘having customer data stored means having a data strategy’. However, this belief is far from reality today. There was even a time when B2B data management was considered equivalent to having a CSV file. Yet, it’s estimated that by 2025, the amount of data produced globally every day will reach 463 exabytes, implying you’ll need much more than CSV files to manage data.

The first step is collecting customer data. This data may include potential customers’ names, contact information, demographic details, job positions, and other relevant data. Typically, this information is gathered from your website, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, surveys, email marketing campaigns, and other sources. The collected data may be messy and contain errors, so it’s essential to clean and rectify it. Ensure the relevancy of your data by keeping it complete and up-to-date.

It’s crucial to categorize or segment the data to better understand your customers and provide personalized experiences. This allows potential customers to be grouped based on their needs and interests. Analyze the collected and segmented data. By examining the data, you can gain insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and trends. This information will significantly aid in shaping your marketing strategies.

Based on the data, offer personalized experiences to your customers. Customized emails, content, or offers better address a customer’s needs and assist in building trust.

Moreover, the privacy and security of customer data are of utmost importance. Protecting your data and taking appropriate security measures helps earn your customers’ trust. As data can change over time, regularly updating customer information and tracking changes is crucial for maintaining customer relationships.

To make data management more efficient, you can use automation tools. These tools automate data collection, analysis, and personalization processes, making data management more effective. It’s also vital to train company personnel about data management. Raising awareness about proper data usage and privacy helps in building trust.

In the B2B customer journey, data management is a fundamental aspect of building trust and customer relationships. Correct and effective data management aids in providing better services to customers and developing long-term business relationships.

Multi-Channel Communication

Multi-channel communication requires the integration and effective coordination of various communication channels (such as websites, email, social media, phone, trade shows, SEO, etc.). Each of these channels needs to be managed, content produced, and updated separately. This demands efficient utilization of time and resources.

Customers engage across multiple channels and transition from one to another. It’s essential to ensure a seamless experience for the customer during these transitions. For instance, if a customer is searching for information on your website and then calls your support line, the information should be consistent and coherent across both channels. Gathering, analyzing, and making sense of data from various channels can be complex. It’s vital to utilize this data effectively to understand customer behaviors and preferences.

Reliability and Reputation Management: Different channels can influence your business’s reputation. Customer reviews, feedback on social media, and other online interactions can shape customer perception. A sound reputation management strategy will help tackle these challenges.

Training and Proper Use: It’s vital for business staff to use the various communication channels effectively and manage the process appropriately. Training and guidance can help overcome this challenge.

Managing the multi-channel communication process plays a significant role in the B2B customer journey, but managing it effectively can be challenging.

How to Create a Multi-Channel Strategy?

Before starting, it’s beneficial to categorize all your channels into three groups:

  • Owned Channels: This includes your website, blog, or any other channel you own.

  • Earned Channels: These are your social media accounts, review sites you use, or any third-party platform or relationships you can leverage.

  • Paid Channels: This covers activities like advertising, pay-per-click (PPC), or influencer marketing.

Once you complete these steps, evaluate which channels from these three areas will be more beneficial for your campaign goal or purpose. Multi-channel marketing doesn’t mean you have to use ALL channels; you should still be strategic.

Next, consider your customer’s journey and determine which channels are suitable for each section of the marketing funnel. If you’re using any marketing automation, don’t forget to plan how you can use it with the chosen channels, be it creating email marketing campaigns or employing advertising strategies varying based on the channel or source where you found the customer.

The great thing about multi-channel marketing is that, as potential customers start entering your funnel, you can use retargeting strategies as a part of B2B marketing to retarget any potential customer that hasn’t converted.

In summary, being aware of the challenges in the B2B customer journey in advance and effectively preparing for them will enable your brand to stand out and grow. Personalized marketing, data management, and multi-channel usage tailored to your target audience, enriched with impeccable customer service, are indispensable for fostering long-term relationships and standing out in the market. Our expert consultants at Metheus Consultancy are ready to customize solutions to meet your business needs. To propel your business towards significant success, contact us today!