B2B Customer Experience: How to Deliver CX Excellence

Customer success10 mins
Jan 12, 2022
b2b buyer online

If you’re not providing a positive, personalized, and streamlined purchasing experience, chances are your competition is— and buyers know they have options. Whether you realize it or not, your customer experience may be costing you business.

Jeff Bezos once said, “Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient,” and his words couldn’t be more true today. More and more, brands are recognizing the importance of a stand-out customer experience, fueled by the global events of the last two years.

It’s an understatement to say we’ve all learned a lot during the pandemic— both businesses and buyers. As consumers, we all became quite accustomed to a customer experience tailored around our needs and preferences, and that expectation has spilled over to B2B purchases, too. And now, a customer-centric buying process is table stakes, whether you’re B2B or B2C.

Just how important is your customer experience?

If you’re not providing a positive, personalized, and streamlined purchasing experience, chances are your competition is— and buyers know they have options. Whether you realize it or not, your customer experience may be costing you business.

In this post, we take a look at why customer experience is critical to your success, how to best impact that experience, and what organizations need to consider in this new (and ever-changing) selling environment.

1. Personalized and humanized customer experiences drive more revenue.

customer experience

As humans, we crave the desire to be known and understood. The same is true for buyers.

Remember the sales quote, “A person’s name to that person is the sweetest and most important sound in any language-?” (Dale Carnegie) We’re preaching to the sales choir when we say building a relationship and buyer rapport is essential to your ongoing sales success, but research shows it also drives more revenue, too. In fact, according to research by McKinsey, brands with a personalized customer experience increased revenue by 5-15%.

A personalized customer experience is not just slugging in a customer name or brand logo into sales collateral. Rather, a personalized and humanized buyer experience is truly understanding your buyer's needs, building trust by demonstrating your understanding, and reacting to your buyer’s emotional (and physical) cues. From our 2021 SaaS Buyer Experience Study, 64% of buyers look for personalized sales materials and it influences their purchasing decision, too.

Practical ways to create a memorable customer experience:

a. Do your homework before a discovery call.

Research your buyer on LinkedIn or social networks to find out more about them personally as well as significant announcements or events about their company, before you have your first call with them. Your buyer will appreciate the extra effort in learning about them, not to mention you won’t waste valuable call time collecting publicly-available information. If you need pre-call ideas, we have an ungated Discovery Call checklist you can download for free.

b. Include a problem statement in your sales proposal.

Only 13% of buyers believe a salesperson understands their needs. By restating your buyer’s challenges and vision, you build trust that you understand their objectives. One of the best ways to demonstrate your understanding of your prospect’s challenges is by including a problem statement in your sales proposal.

c. Tailor sales documents to your buyer.

No buyer wants to receive lengthy sales documents in which only a small portion pertains to their needs and interests. Qualify the information you are sending to prospects, so it speaks directly to their use case and answers the question of how your product or service uniquely solves their objective. By including less content, the important product information will be better highlighted and remembered.

d. Adjust your conversations according to proposal viewing behavior.

This one assumes you have analytics of how buyers are viewing your sales proposal, but use those metrics to your advantage. If you get an alert that your prospect opened your proposal right away, you know your message thus far is resonating and they’re interested in your solution. If you see a buyer spending more time in one section of your proposal vs. another, use that information to fine-tune your follow-up conversations and hone in on what interests your buyer most. And if you don’t have proposal analytics, Qwilr can help; book a call with our sales team to learn more.

2. Competition is increasing exponentially.

competition is increasing

If the last two years have taught humans nothing else, we’ve become masters at finding digital answers to our questions. From search to chatbots to review sites, consumers know how to research a brand on their own— most consumer products make it easy. According to the State of the Connected Customer report, 62% of customers say their experience with one industry influences their expectations of others. Exceptional consumer experiences are setting expectations for frictionless B2B buying experiences— and your brand needs to be top of its game to stand out.

In today’s purchasing environment, your buyer knows how to find information about your product— your customer reviews, your competition, your position in the industry— before they ever become a lead on your radar. But many brands may unknowingly be creating speed bumps in the process too, such as hiding product videos behind gates or requiring a form submission to get basic pricing.

Remember, B2B buyers are consumers too— and have higher expectations for how the purchasing process should flow. You are no longer just competing against similar products, but rather every other experience that buyer has had. And from Salesforce research, 80% of customers say the experiences provided by your company are as important to them as the product or service itself. The bottom line: the customer experience you are providing has a direct impact on your sales success.

3. Purchase decisions are both emotional and logical.

logic vs emotions

Think B2B purchase decisions lack emotion? Think again!

People are people whether they’re buying a car or a SaaS solution. Purchase decisions are based on a combination of emotion and logic, often straying further into the emotional realm than the logical. Understanding the emotions behind your prospects' purchase decisions— their pain points, what they fear, what they seek, what they wish to avoid, and how it all impacts their reputation and role can help you stand out from the competition in real and relevant ways.

To be successful in sales, sellers need to demonstrate to buyers how working with your company is going to improve their situation, both personally and professionally. The most successful sales reps are strategic and intentional in their discussions, actively listening for buyer cues and adjusting their processes accordingly. Much of our learning comes from emotional learning— and your customer experience creates a lasting impression.

Including both emotional and logical content in your sales proposal supports the decision-making process. Here’s a table summary showing ways to incorporate different elements:

ContentLogic or Emotion-basedWhy
Visual content: images, graphsEmotionThe brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the written word.
Personal video greetingsEmotion78% of marketers say video has helped increase sales; people buy from people.
ROI CalculatorLogicDemonstrate your product value. As humans, we use logic to justify our actions to ourselves and others.
Interactive pricingLogicBuyers want to know their solution is right-sized for their individual use case.
TestimonialsEmotionTestimonials help ease purchasing anxiety and build buyer trust. 42% of buyers are influenced by reviews.

Take time to review and audit your sales materials. Are they balanced between emotional and logic-based content? Do they appropriately represent your brand visually? And does your medium match your message?

4. Our changed world is impacting our choices.

our world is a complex adaptive system

Because of the pandemic, we’re all evaluating our choices and rethinking our priorities. We’ve seen evidence of this from The Great Resignation and 4.4 million Americans leaving their jobs for more equitable and desirable working conditions. Employees want to be empowered and be set up for success, buyers and sellers included in this statement. Your customer experience should take this shift into account.

“Every choice feels critically important to people remaking their lives for a changed world. The more information they have, the more confident their decisions will be. Brands whose marketing makes it a priority to empower people in their research will find it easier to win trust and loyalty.”

Google’s Annual Year-end Search Review

Remember too, your buyer is coming to you to solve a challenge or simplify a process. Emphasize how your product or service improves your prospect’s situation, such as reducing manual hours and improving work/life balance.

The same lifestyle improvements and preferences can also be said for sellers. Sales reps also have choices of who they work for, and brands who support sellers by reducing their pain points— such as admin tasks and unproductive time that detracts from selling— are more likely to retain top sales talent. Proposal software and a centralized library of sales content streamline the proposal process for reps and improve sales outcomes. Now more than ever, proposal software not only improves sales effectiveness but makes good business sense, too. If you’re not familiar with how proposal software works or the benefits it offers, book a no-obligation demo now.

The takeaway: your customer experience should be built around buyer empowerment for the purpose of building buyer trust, customer loyalty, and simplifying the purchasing process. Additionally, look for ways to support your sales team and streamline the selling process for them, too.

5. Your customer experience creates either brand advocates or churn.

advocacy or churn

Customer churn can be the downfall of even the best organizations. That churn is often driven not by a poor product or service experience, but by a poor service experience. As Mira Kopanarov points out in a MarketingProfs article: “Of people who had a subpar sales interaction, only 13% said they would return to the same company.” That’s a pretty significant churn and it can be very costly!

Clearly, understanding (and meeting) your buyer’s needs not only protects today’s sale but boosts the odds that they’ll be a long-standing, loyal customer. Once the deal is closed, the selling doesn’t stop— your customer experience influences future product usage and expansion, and creates either brand advocates likely to spread positive word of mouth, or nay-sayers that can harm your reputation.

Whether you win or lose a deal, make it standard practice to reach out to your prospects and ask them about their experiences with you. Thank them when they offer you positive feedback. Act quickly to address any constructive feedback you may hear. Continuously consider how your buyer experience could improve and provide better value going forward.

Developing a winning customer experience

Now is a good time to consider the ways you can improve your buyer experience. Resolve to make 2023 the year of the customer, improving sales material relevancy, streamlining your sales process, and creating a stand-out customer experience that not only wins the deal but creates brand advocates in the process. It’s also a good time to think about the tools you’ll use in 2023 to gain a competitive edge and make this year your Best. Year. Yet.