Daniel Burstein

What is B2B?: Discovering what the customer wants by understanding your Buyer’s Funnel

If you could break it down to its essence, what really is B2B marketing? It is not, as the name suggests, one business marketing to another or one business buying from another. If you look up the definition of a business, after all, it is an organization.

An organization of people. In the end, people choose to buy, or not buy, from you. When I’ve worked with enterprise sales organizations, they’d often talk about the deals as the “Bank of America deal” or the “Walmart deal” when they really should have called them the “Hannah, Fred and Bill deal.” After all, Hannah, Fred and Bill are the ones making the buying decisions, not a multinational corporate entity that exists only on paper in a P.O. Box in Delaware.

So to truly succeed in B2B, you need to make it P2P. Even more so than consumer marketing, where a customer may buy a product off the shelf with no interaction at all with the people in your company, B2B is very people-oriented. Everyone from sales executives to customer service reps to consulting teams interacts with the real people in your customer organizations … except, perhaps, marketing managers.

If you’re in marketing, you tend to have among the least interaction with your customers. And yet, you are the ones responsible for the messages you’re sending to those customers. How can you bridge that gap? Check out this video A/V Specialist Luke Thorpe put together about Kristin Zhivago’s keynote at the East Coast swing of MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 – “The Buyer’s Funnel and Your Political Power: Joined at the Hip” – along with my quick interview with her after the Summit wrapped …

 

In this video, Kristin discusses:

  • How what’s important to the customer likely differs from what’s important to your company
  • The need to move beyond industry baseline promises (“our airplanes fly!”)
  • How to conduct qualitative research by interviewing your customers
  • How to leverage your customers’ vested interests in your company to learn what will appeal to prospects

As Peter Drucker said, “A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers, to provide the goods or services which the company exists to produce. Profit is not the primary goal but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence. Other responsibilities, e.g., to employees and society, exist to support the company’s continued ability to carry out its primary purpose.”

You can’t serve those customers, and fulfill that primary responsibility, if you’re only guessing about what they really want.

If you missed the B2B Summit in Boston, catch the West Coast swing of B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco, October 24-25 to hear Kristin Zhivago teach about the B2B buyer’s funnel.

 

Related resources:

B2B Summit 2011: 5 takeaways on social media, lead generation, building a customer-centric approach, and more

Guided by Buyers: Four tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy

Marketing Career: How to become an indispensable asset to your company (even in a bad economy)

Marketing Career: If you’re so good, why don’t they do what you say?

MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 – San Francisco, October 24-25

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B2B Marketing