In a recent article, we covered some customer buying signals that you should be aware of. That covered business-to-customer (B2C) operations but what about when your operation is business-to-business (B2B)? Having worked in both B2C and B2B there are differences in the markets and how you interact with their participants. We have here 5 B2B buy signals and what to do about them to give your business the best chance of getting a new customer or deepening the relationship with an existing customer. The signals vary because businesses vary widely. They vary in size and structure but also their communication with the outside world. A small enterprise is not required or expected to disclose its plans but a listed company is not only expected to but required to disclose its plans.
News about expansion
This comes in many different ways but if you’re watching your potential customers as closely as you should be you will catch wind of this and usually ahead of everyone else. The expansion could be opening up of new branches or outlets. The information can be attained formally, for example, Simbisa Brands’ expansion plan has been in the news for the best part of a year now. Sometimes the information can flow informally, say a small business owner mentions they want to open another branch or are contemplating it. Depending on what you do or can supply to them this means an opportunity to sell more of it.
Just like in C2C, in B2B buying is often a mix of meeting customer requirements and having a good relationship with the customer. B2B customers tend to be clear and objective about their requirements. The decision maker however is the variable part of this. When there is a change in decision maker that’s a signal of at least an opportunity to pitch your business or solution to the new decision maker. Some businesses may have a team or group of decision-makers, and a significant change in its composition should also be taken as a signal. Introduce your business to the decision maker or team making it clear what you offer and what advantages it holds.
New departments/job openings
Sometimes the signals are not so obvious. New departments, new job openings or aggressive hiring in a specific area are all signals of changes in a business. It will differ from business to business how you come to hear about their hiring processes. One thing I love about the B2B environment is the fact that your number of interactions per unit sold is lower. Businesses buy big, so you have fewer conversations or contacts to achieve the same numbers as B2C. This also applies to watching your customers and figuring out what they are up to. Keeping in touch with existing customers, especially if you want to keep them, is something you should always do. Where they are a target customer this is a signal to reach out.
New product announcements
One thing big and small businesses have in common is they love to publicise their new products and product lines. This happens both in the public and private domains. New products and product lines signal new needs in a business. It could be additional material, new solutions or new capabilities required to handle to the new business line. This is a signal you need to react to quickly. One tip here is to show the customer how your business can help them rather than just telling them what you offer.
The buy signal that we should all be somewhat familiar with is the detailed enquiry. This applies in B2B just as it does in B2C. The difference is the degree of detail. Retail customers will ask a lot of questions but this will not always be indicative of how far along the sales pipeline they are. As mentioned before in B2B customers tend to have a lot more detail about their requirements so the detailed enquiry comes very early in the process of buying. So when dealing with businesses it is best not to wait for a second or third enquiry before taking them seriously. You have to show up from the very first detailed enquiry.