by Ron D’Andrea


Here’s a troubling fact from a recent Gallup Corporation survey:

71% of B2B customers are not engaged …

…so companies are acquiring competitors for their clients rather than finding new clients or making the most of those they already have

 Seventy-one percent! That’s 71% of B2B clients who are emotionally and psychologically disinterested in the companies they do business with.

 That’s the kind of statistic that should rally B2B companies, push them to rethink the way they approach new prospects and fight for their wavering customers. Instead, they’re heaving in the sails, battening down the hatches and waiting for the storm. They’re scavenging — acquiring other companies to get customers, rather than leveraging the relationships they have already invested in.

 According to research by B2B International, building market share is the number-one business challenge in the B2B world today, with 62% of 250 global B2B firms’ marketers citing it as the biggest stumbling block.

 Certainly, acquiring other companies to build market share is one option, but in doing so B2B companies turn their backs on already disengaged customers and send out the message that, actually, the B2B supplier isn’t all that interested in the client – that profit is paramount.

 And there’s the catch-22.

 B2B International also found 58% of B2B customers prefer a value-led marketing experience with their suppliers and are less concerned about a price-led relationship.

 So picture the scene – a B2B client wants to be in a strong relationship with and feel cared for by their B2B supplier while the supplier flounces off and buys up other customers with another company.

 Giving up and buying up competitors sends the wrong message to clients. It essentially says ‘we don’t care about you, we’re just after the money.’

 Invariably, in their attempts to improve profits, B2B suppliers invest in acquiring new companies and in ‘methodologies that are crucial for keeping costs down, but they don’t have a plan for maximising their customer relationships.’

 You can’t move these days for the now-almost-statutory customer feedback, but, as the Gallup report says, these ‘tend to be nothing more than formalities’, with ‘B2B companies […] missing the vital link between data and action.’

 B2B suppliers need to listen to the feedback they’re getting – take it on board and act on it – rather than doggedly focusing on their own profits.

 ‘Many B2B brands are guilty of selling on price, rather than selling on value,’ explains Julia Cupman, Global Director at B2B International. ‘Value marketing means that you might not be the cheapest on the market but you’re better at meeting different groups of customer needs.’[6]

 A fundamental shift in thinking has to happen if a company wants to tap into the wealth of existing customers rather than just buying more relationships.

 B2B suppliers need to start looking at the world through the customer’s vantage point – put the customer at the heart of everything and move away from price being the selling point and instead make it all about value.