Business-to-business (B2B) marketing is a type of marketing done directly between businesses. Unlike other sales models where the Client goes through an intermediary such as retail, B2B marketing involves direct contact between professionals in specific industries, creating the potential for closer relationships and higher quality. But — and this is particularly true regarding customer service and client services departments — maximizing these possibilities can be complicated, with even simple interactions presenting enough challenges to overwhelm more than one team.
Primary challenges faced by the client services team
Client services teams are the core of any successful business. They are responsible for managing and working with clients, supporting them, and ensuring they are happy.
However, there are some challenges that these teams face when it comes to working with B2B companies.
The challenge of prioritizing tasks
Client services teams must prioritize their work and focus on what is important. This can be challenging when your team manages several distinct types of clients, each with diverse needs and requirements. For example, while one Client may want their emails answered immediately, another might be more flexible about response times. Your team must first understand which clients they should focus on to give them the best possible service!
Managing the Product
Sometimes, it is hard for a company to manage its product line because there are so many moving parts. When your team sells to businesses, that means managing multiple products at once and ensuring they are all cohesive. You also need to make sure each product has its marketing plan so it can be sold effectively.
Understanding the Customer’s Industry
The industry matters — especially in B2B sales — because it helps determine what type of product or service you sell. You need to understand how your product fits into their industry and how it could improve their company’s bottom line if they buy from you. For example, if you are trying to sell accounting software to an accounting firm owner, knowing what type of accounting software they use before pitching them on yours will give them confidence in your product immediately. If you are selling a real estate software program to an agent looking to buy, then knowing the current state of their business and how they could improve it will also help you sell your product.
Failing to Tailor Services to the Client
Selling a product is one thing, but if you want to make sure that the Client uses it, you have to tailor your services to them. This means knowing what they need and how they operate and offering advice on how they can use your product more effectively. For example, if you are selling accounting software to a small business owner, you need to know their accounting needs and how they operate their business. This will allow you to tailor your services to be more beneficial for them.
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Missing opportunities for relationship building
The way that most B2B companies are structured, with multiple tiers of management and many layers between sales and the Client, means that there is not always direct access to decision-makers. This can make building relationships difficult as it is hard to know who you should speak with or what they are interested in. In addition, there may be a lack of information about your clients and their business, making it difficult to know how best to engage with them.
B2B sales teams typically have a high volume of leads coming through the door, so they must carefully allocate time when prioritizing their interactions with clients. The challenge here is that it is not always obvious which clients will lead to sales, so there is an element of risk involved when deciding who gets priority attention.
Lack of training
Most B2B companies do not invest enough time or money into training their staff on how best to engage customers at all levels because they believe there is not the time or budget for it. However, this can be detrimental to the overall success of a sales team. Without the proper training and knowledge, it is difficult for B2B salespeople to know which questions to ask when they are engaging with clients. This can lead to missed opportunities and lost revenue.
Handling Technical Issues
B2B salespeople are often asked to address technical issues, which is something they are not necessarily trained to do. Technical support should be handled by those with the necessary skills and experience. However, this often is not the case. Many B2B companies rely on their sales teams to address technical issues because they believe it is important to understand how their products work to sell them effectively. But in doing so, these businesses are putting themselves at risk because of the lack of training in handling technical issues.
Failing to Break Down Silos and Create a Team Mindset
Businesses trying to grow their B2B sales often find that they have silos in place, making it difficult for them to work together as one team. Silos can be detrimental because they prevent communication between departments and make it difficult for the company to be agile when responding to changes in the market.
Best practices for the B2B client services team to overcome these challenges
Customer service is not just about answering calls, emails, and tweets. It is about building relationships with your customers that will keep them returning for more.
The best customer service teams know their customers’ needs and want and strive to exceed their expectations. They also know how to leverage the tools at their disposal to provide a seamless experience for every customer interaction, whether over the phone or through social media. Here are some best practices for improving your client services team’s performance:
Know your customers’ needs
Great customer service starts with understanding the needs of your customers. Do they want a quick response to inquiries? Or do they simply want to feel like they are being listened to? By understanding your Client’s wants, needs, and expectations in-depth, you can create processes that meet and exceed those expectations. Knowing your client’s needs is the first step to providing excellent customer service.
Use automation and technology to streamline processes
Automation can help you better manage your client services team’s workload by removing some repetitive tasks involved in day-to-day operations. For example, if all incoming emails are sent directly to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, it is much easier for agents to respond quickly while still tracking their work history.
Develop buyer personas
It is essential to create these personas to better understand who your clients are and what they want from their service providers. For example, if you know that most of your customers are small businesses with five or fewer employees, it makes sense to offer them discounts on larger packages. In addition, you can use the personas to create more effective marketing campaigns. For example, if most of your customers are busy business owners with limited time to spend on social media, it might make sense to focus on creating high-quality content that does not require much reading time. This information can tailor your marketing campaigns to your clients’ needs. For example, if most of your customers are small businesses with five or fewer employees, offering them discounts on larger packages makes sense.
Focus on your USP
You should have a USP or unique selling proposition. This makes your business stand out from the competition and gives you an edge over your competitors. It is also important to keep in mind that your USP should be relevant to your target audience. For example, if most of your customers are small businesses with five or fewer employees, offering them discounts on larger packages makes sense. In addition, you can use the personas to create more effective marketing campaigns.
Define your customer service strategy
Have a customer service strategy in place before you start selling. You can use the persona of each customer to determine what their expectations are for customer service and then identify ways that you can meet or exceed those expectations. For example, if most of your customers are small businesses with five or fewer employees, offering them discounts on larger packages makes sense.
Ensure customer retention with good customer service practices
The best way to retain customers is by providing them with excellent service. You can do this by responding quickly to customer inquiries and resolving any issues they have as soon as possible. You should also provide incentives for repeat business, such as loyalty programs or discounts on future purchases.
Keep your customers informed about changes in your company
You should keep your customers informed about changes to your company. For example, if you are going through a merger or acquisition, let them know what this means for them. You should also alert customers to any upcoming changes that may affect their business relations with you, such as new pricing models or updated policies for dealing with customer issues.
Keep your customers enlighted about changes in your industry
You should keep your customers informed about changes in your industry that may affect their business relations with you. For example, if innovative technology could disrupt the market for specific products or services, let them know how this could impact them so they can make plans to mitigate any adverse effects on their business.
Keep it friendly and personal, but do not forget to stay professional
When it comes to customer relations, the most important thing you can do is keep it warm and personal. This means that if someone has a problem with your business, they should not feel like they are dealing with an automated system or a robot. You want them to feel like they are talking directly to one of their peers, even if they are not. While you do not have to be overly personal, using their name in your response is a clever idea if you can. This will make them feel like they are being addressed directly and that the issue is important enough for you to take the time to address them by name.
Responding quickly can go a long way toward improving your reputation. It shows that you care enough about your customers to respond promptly and that their issues are important enough to address immediately. One of the best ways to ensure you are responsive is by setting up an auto-responder system. This will let people know when they can expect a response from you, so they are not left wondering why they have not heard back yet. Also, be sure to respond to negative comments by trying to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. If you cannot do it right away, let people know when they should expect a reply from you.
Add value to your customer service experience
If you want to build up trust with customers and let them know that you care about them, offering them extra value is a fantastic way to do so. This can be as simple as sending an email newsletter occasionally or offering discounts on future purchases. If they leave positive reviews by showing your customers that their opinions matter, they will be more likely to return.
Give customers a way to get in touch with you
Whenever someone has an issue with their product or service, the last thing they want to do is have to go through a lot of hassle just trying to get help. By providing customers with contact information that is easy for them to use (such as email addresses), you will make it much easier for them to reach out if they need assistance. This can help you resolve issues more quickly, making your customers happier. You should also provide contact information for specific departments, such as returns or customer service. This way, people will not have to guess who they should talk to about their issue when they call or email.
Conduct a survey
You can create a survey to determine what your customers want from you and how they use your services. This will help you make more effective marketing campaigns, especially if you have multiple personas for specific demographics.30
The exciting thing about dealing with Business to Business clients is that you never know what will come across your desk. No matter what you are working on, there is a good chance it will be interesting from a design point of view. And because these clients are so often willing to listen to innovative ideas, there’s always room for experimentation. Therefore, it only makes sense for businesses to hire people who are talented at everything from logo design to signage and even beyond.
Shivani is a talented CS manager with the skillsets to elicit, scope and manage end-to-end B2B SaaS project delivery. She has a keen interest in depicting her learnings in customer success by writing resourceful blogs and articles.
Published October 27, 2022, Updated March 01, 2023