B2B Revenue GrowthGuest Contributions by B2B Experts

This blog consists of the very best articles and blog posts we’ve curated from B2B experts across the web. These posts cover a wide variety of B2B business topics, however, we will ensure the focus remains on how great marketing B2B processes and programs lead to revenue growth – and insight on actions you can take to realize those improvements.

 

The Big Difference Solution-Selling Can Make

customer pain points-company tailor made solutionAt first glance, the difference between selling a product or service and selling a solution may not be very apparent. After all, aren’t all products and services created to provide a solution to solve a customer’s problems?

Most businesses create a product or service that is a “one size fits all” solution. Rather than designing an offering to fit an individual customer’s needs, most businesses prefer to produce a product or service to appeal to a wide audience. As such, they are just good enough for most consumers.

In solutions-selling, the product or service is not a one size fits all solution but is designed to help the customer along their journey and address a specific customer’s unique problems.

When it comes to solutions-selling, instead of pushing a product or service, the business must create a genuine connection to the potential customer. The solution-selling methodology endeavors to create a lasting relationship with clients in which the goal is always to find new ways to help.

To get your head around this idea, think of sales as if it was customer service. Customer service implies spending more time listening to and trying to anticipate the customer’s needs to better understand their issues and challenges.

In the old days, it was believed that a knowledgeable customer was more likely to shop around and find an alternative solution. However, today increasing a customer’s knowledge actually fosters trust in a company and its products according to the data from Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson’s study, which resulted in their book titled “The Challenger Sale.”.

By assuming a teaching role, the solutions seller becomes a trusted partner in a collaborative process. By helping the customers recognize their pain points, sharing gain points with them that they were not even aware of, and anticipating and responding to potential problems enables the company to offer a new perspective which will lead to more business from happier customers.

Today’s customer is looking for a tailor-made solution, not a “one size fits all” solution that is just good enough.

Are you selling a product or a solution?

This post originally appeared at stevebizblog.com.

6 Subtle Ways Social Media Impacts Client Experience

Pexels.com

Pexels.com

Millions of businesses use social media as a marketing tool to engage with others and promote their brands online. B2B companies are no different, and should be working hard on their social media strategies to boost profit margins and give clients the best possible experience. This very minute, around 30 million Facebook messages are being sent and 350,000 tweets are being published. This shows just how important social channels are in our lives right now. Social media is changing how we do business, so it’s important to build a strong brand presence online to meet your clients’ needs. Find out how social media impacts your clients’ experience of your brand, and ways in which you can master your social strategy for the best possible results.

1. Social Media as a Point of Contact

Just like in our social lives, social media keeps the business world connected. And for those working in a B2B market, social media is a core component for remaining connected to clients, even outside of work hours. Social media has an organic feel to it that many other mediums cannot compete with: it shows your client that you are authentic and trustworthy (depending on what you put out there).

Aside from your website, social channels such as LinkedIn are one of the first places that new clients will look before they get in contact. As a B2B company, your social media game needs to be strong in order to positively impact client experience.

2. Building Confidence for Long Term Relationships

B2B companies are all about building strong long-term relationships with clients. It takes commitment and hard work to establish a lifelong relationship with clients to secure ongoing business. B2B companies need to offer clients a top-notch experience through all levels of communication during the relationship. Being active on your social media channels means clients feel supported throughout their time working with you because they can reach you whenever they need to.

Active social media channels also give clients the chance to socialize with you on social media, which builds friendly relationships that help business deals flourish.

Don’t burn bridges with ex-clients. Social media gives you the opportunity to stay in touch with clients long after you have stopped working with them, which could potentially bring you more business at a later date.

3. B2B Social Media for Ecommerce

B2B ecommerce stores are set to grow to $6.7 trillion in gross merchandise value by 2020, according to Forbes. Wholesale stores can be a great newfound revenue stream, even for those that already run an online store.

Teroforma

Image credit: Teroforma

Take Teroforma, for example. Using an out-of-the-box online store builder, Teroforma has been able to incorporate their B2C ecommerce store to include wholesale products, depending on who is using their website. They can then leverage their established social media accounts to serve their new B2B clients and maximize their commercial potential.

Social media is imperative for ecommerce brands because their audience resides online. Many customers are searching for customer reviews, comparing prices with other companies, and, of course, viewing social profiles before they commit to buying a specific product. Make sure that you create ‘social proof’ around your B2B store in the form of reviews, shares, and testimonials. Seeing a real client recommendation on social is a very compelling sales tool.

4. Social promotion for B2B

Social media isn’t only useful for engaging new clients and building strong relationships with existing ones. They can be used to leverage a completely new audience through your own social channels. Let’s say that you are working with a client who needs a helping hand with their social media strategy — you can leverage your own loyal followers to give them an extra boost.

This works both ways. Whatever your client has requested, it’s a huge gesture to mention their brand name in a post, or give them a shout-out. This helps to build strong relationships that last a lifetime.

Perhaps the most important distinction to make between B2C and B2B social media marketing is that B2C will want to reach customers to sell their brand, using popular channels like Instagram and Twitter. B2B companies will want to target other social channels that will connect them with the right people, like LinkedIn and Facebook. Utilizing the appropriate social media channels is important to engage the right kind of customers and clients.

5. Authenticity in Client Experience

Social media is one of the most organic ways for clients to get to know your B2B company. It automatically shows your authenticity to both current and future clients. Boost client experience by being active on all social media channels; if a client asks you a question via social media, then it pays to be active and attentive with a fast response rate. Even if you are unsure of the answer, send them a quick message back to direct your client to the right department. Don’t just ignore them or send out an automated reply because this will damage client experience.

6. Show Off Your Social Skills

Think about it: if your B2B company works in digital and offers marketing services to other companies, then your own social profiles are an advertisement for your social marketing skills. If your Twitter feed has been bone dry since last Christmas, and you only have 100 followers, then this isn’t going to make a good impression for your client. It will seem like you don’t understand your own offering, and this could ultimately lose your business.

If you are screaming from the rooftops, proclaiming that you are a social media ninja, then you are going to have to practise what you preach to engage with clients.

Social media is intrinsic to what B2B companies do every single day, so they are in a great position to take advantage and wow their clients. B2B is all about building strong relationships that last. Client experience is what makes your B2B company successful online; promote a sense of trust to draw other businesses into your company. Strive to support clients through social media to offer them the best possible client experience.

How to Raise Your KPIQ: Key Performance Indicators and Your Marketing IQ

Digital Marketing

You’re driving. You need to know what speed you’re traveling at, how many miles you’ve traveled, how much gas remains in the tank, and what temperature your engine is running at.

Now imagine how much it’d slow you down to go to four separate places to get that information. You’d have to stop and restart your journey each time you check one of those numbers.

Sounds ridiculous, right? That’s why your car’s equipped with a dashboard, and why automakers keep updating dashboards to make them into more powerful tools that deliver more information at a glance.

This now concludes our metaphor.

Now, let’s get to the point: Marketers need dashboards, too, else they burn time in pursuit of the numbers they need. And that’s no way to optimize your mileage (well hello again, metaphor).

Seriously, though, serious digital marketers are masters of measurement:

  1. The good ones simplify decision-making processes by examining marketing metrics.
  2. The better ones simplify the examination process by establishing a manageable set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to review regularly.
  3. The best ones simplify their KPI review process by consolidating their analytics sources in one place.

I call this phenomenon “KPIQ.”

Seeing as how I’ve been doing digital marketing since it got its start, I feel qualified to make up my own terms now and then. So I ask you to indulge me as I present…

KPIQ, the degree of intelligence you bring to your marketing performance and measurement.

Let’s work toward raising your KPIQ in three steps.

1. Establish your KPIs

You can have a KPIQ only if you have KPIs, so you need to consider which performance indicators are key to your business. Jay Baer puts content marketing metrics into four primary buckets:

  1. Consumption: The most fundamental type of content metric, consumption can be measured as pageviews or downloads.
  2. Sharing: All of the various social channels offer sharing-related metrics (such as tweets and likes).
  3. Lead generation: This metric will generally come from form fills, which might be measured with your marketing platform or by Google Analytics (where thank-you pages indicate a lead was generated).
  4. Sales: Measurement of sales will require integrating your marketing automation platform and CRM or e-commerce system.

HubSpot points out that the less you know about your key performance indicators, the less likely you are to meet your revenue goals. Its research shows seven metrics marketers commonly use to measure content marketing success:

  1. Traffic
  2. Sales
  3. Conversion
  4. SEO rank
  5. Time on site
  6. Customer feedback
  7. Subscriber growth

Here’s another way you could consider organizing metrics by category and KPIs, suggested by PracticalEcommerce:

There’s no need to agree that any one model is the perfect model or to embrace someone else’s suggested list of KPIs. What is important is to create categories and KPIs that relate to your business’s marketing goals so that they’re meaningful to your business.

2. Make it easy to access your KPIs

Every marketing platform offers some sort of analytics. That’s good news: The numbers you need are readily available. That’s also bad news: It can take a ton of keyboard jockeying to pull information from so many disparate sources.

Marketers—and other professionals who rely on metrics to make data-driven decisions—spend far too much time collecting, monitoring, and analyzing data. As new services get added to the mix, the problem grows more severe.

A practical solution is to corral the needed data into a dashboard. You can set up dashboards specifically for monitoring social media or Web analytics or a variety of marketing and sales data—in a single view.

Here is an example of a social media dashboard from Cyfe, a service that enables you to monitor, access, and share your KPIs from a single location in real-time:

3. Apply what you learn from your KPIs

Key performance indicators become keys to optimizing your marketing only when you apply what you learn.

In a post about the importance of analytics integration, Cyfe claims you should apply marketing data to…

  • Identify opportunities. Looking at a big picture of your analytics and how your digital marketing efforts work together (or don’t), helps you identify opportunities and make more intelligent decisions.
  • Improve communication. When marketing data flows freely between departments and systems, teams are better able to align their efforts and achieve common goals.
  • Streamline sales and marketing. Companies achieve faster growth when they successfully align sales and marketing processes. Creating a central hub of intelligence to be used by both teams to target the right customers provides an important step toward achieving alignment.

A study by McKinsey about analytics and the future of marketing and sales, found that companies that put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment by 15-20%.

And that’s the basic formula for raising your KPIQ:

  1. Establish KPIs
  2. Consolidate them
  3. Apply what you learn

Take a smarter approach to marketing by allowing performance indicators to guide your decisions. Watch what happens.

This post originally appeared here.

Twitter: @FeldmanCreative

LinkedIn: Barry Feldman

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