Okay! Rising above all the complexities for which a customer uses your software, a B2B customer’s end goal is to ultimately serve their own customers. Hence, for providing a valuable service, it is important for you to understand your customer’s customer.
There can be many kinds of customers for which your direct customer is using your software. They may include external customers like any individual or an organization. Or, there can be internal customers like a different department in the same organization.
In a B2B SaaS environment, every organization is ultimately working to serve their customers. If you are not aware of the complete workflow of the solution your product offers, you may not be able to deliver the value that your client needs. Only by having a complete picture of their customer’s needs, you can know how your product is helping them achieve their goals.
Why is understanding your customer’s customer important?
Having an end-to-end understanding of your customer’s business environment is a crucial competitive advantage you can have. There are many benefits you can avail by understanding the client base of your direct customers. They are as mentioned below:
#1 Aligning your business with that of client’s rather than your own product
Assuming that you don’t have a clear picture of towards what end your customer is using your product. Then where would your focus be in creating the value proposition for your product?
In such a case, your knowledge and focus would be limited to what your product can offer. B2B products are usually more complex than having a simple and straightforward purpose for which they are built. It might be serving differently to different customers.
Hence, it is important for you to understand the business of your customer. And to gain such clarity, you must understand what they are offering to their own customers. When you join hands with them in serving their customers, you become a part of their team rather than an external vendor.
Your commitment towards helping them serve their customers would bring immense benefits to your relationship and customer retention. By aligning your business with that of your customers, you ensure that your solution becomes an integral part of their business needs. And that is the sure shot way to retain customers and increase their lifetime value.
#2 Becoming a part of your customer’s growth journey
No matter which niche your customer is in, all the businesses have a basic tendency to evolve over time. This evolution doesn’t happen on its own. There are certain challenges that need to be overcome for them to sustain their business for long-term.
When you are completely aware of the challenges your clients are facing in serving their customers, you can readjust your product according to their evolving needs. In regular meetings and touchpoints with your customers, your Customer Success Manager (CSM) must be adept enough to anticipate their evolving needs. Even better would be if you are able to show them in advance what they would need. This would help you identify the right timing to approach them for upsells and cross-sells.
Readjusting your product according to their evolving needs would ensure the relevancy of your product in the customer’s eyes. If the customer’s usage experience of your product is not evolving over time, there is a major risk of your product becoming redundant and ultimately being scrapped.
Realigning your product with the customer’s evolving needs also expands your knowledge on understanding different aspects of your product.
#3 Customizing your marketing campaigns
In a B2B world, you hardly rely on mass marketing. Concepts like account-based marketing have brought in a major shift in the way marketing is conducted in B2B companies. Before you approach a prospect to market your product, you have to do a thorough study of their business.
You must clearly understand what kind of customers they are serving and how your product would help them do so. There is an immense amount of information available online, especially on social media, through which you study your prospects business well. You can understand what lies at the top of their mind along with their business line.
Having gained such knowledge, you would know what you should speak to get their attention. If you are able to frame your marketing campaigns to meet their prioritized business goals, their conversion probability would be much higher.
How to understand your customer’s customer?
Having understood the importance of understanding your customer’s customer, let’s look at a few ways that can enable you to do the same.
Interact with your customer’s customer success team
The team in your customer’s company who holds the most knowledge about their customers is customer success. Conducting a meeting with those CSMs or CS leaders would give you a vast amount of knowledge about their customer’s challenges and solutions they are offering to them. Calling them to your quarterly business review meetings is also a good idea to gauge their strategies towards serving their customers. When you would show interest in understanding their customers, they would be delighted to share their experiences and challenges with a hope of gaining some solutions from you.
Create business use cases for your customer’s customers
This would be going an extra mile in understanding their customer base; hence you cannot afford to do it for all but only your high-profile customers. Understanding your client’s business and creating use cases for their business processes would help you gain immense clarity of their business offerings.
You can share your findings with your customers and they would be glad to make any amendments if needed or at a better chance, may gain additional clarity on their business. Your inclusion in their business would be a plus point in nurturing your relationship with them.
Monitor your customers on social media
This is the simplest and easiest way to understand how your customers are engaging with their customers. Monitor the kinds of feedback, service issues, challenges and pain point their customers are raising on their business page. Through continuous monitoring, you might find a gap that you can fill through your own service or product. Using a social media monitoring tool can help a great deal in fulfilling this purpose. 20
To ensure the longevity of your business, you must understand the growth engine that is running your customer’s business. And understanding your customer’s customer is a major part of it. Businesses that invest in understanding the end-to-end cycle of their customer’s business pave a way towards long-term sustainable growth. Hence, you must refrain from keeping a myopic vision of your customers and enlarge it to understand all aspects of their business. Only then can you thrive in this competitive world.
Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.
Published December 22, 2020, Updated March 02, 2023