Applying B2C customer engagement methods to B2B and B2B2C businesses

Philippe Pavillet

Oct 15, 2020

A B2B customer is a customer like any other.

Loyal, repeat customers who will recommend you - the dream of every business, regardless of size or industry. Right?

The thing is, offerings of competitors and customer reviews are just a few clicks away, making comparison easy and customers ever more volatile. Winning over new customers is no longer enough: you need to make them want to stay.

B2B companies often tend to forget this reality when they massively focus on winning new customers but oh so little on retaining existing ones. Yet, it's widely known that keeping a customer costs 5 times less than acquiring a new one!

For some reason, many people still have the perception that switching suppliers so costly that customers are content enough with receiving the expected product or service on time and at the right price.

Not so.

Underneath every B2B relationship, there are real people, human decision-makers whose habits have changed a lot over the past twenty years, in large part due to their personal experience as consumers.

This professional customer, who has decision-making power over the choice of suppliers for her company, is also a customer in her own right.

As a private individual, she is constantly targeted by very advanced marketing strategies, designed to make her want to stay longer, buy more often and spend more. Even if she does not give in to all these seductive tactics, she is aware of their existence, is used to them and finds some of them very useful.

So why would this no longer make sense once in a business setting?

If her coffee pod provider can alert her when she’s almost out of joe, thus sparing her a most unpleasant breakfast, why wouldn’t her supplier of paper reams or ink cartridges help her anticipate the needs of her business?

Today, B2B companies that want successful, profitable customer relationships must create a customized experience based on the knowledge of EVERY customer.

Treating all your customers in the same way is counter-productive because it is time-consuming and unprofitable.

For instance, applying the same customer follow-up rule X days after the last order will actually only be relevant for the average customer: it will come too late for very engaged customers, and be too invasive for occasional customers. In other words, a nuisance for a large part – if not the majority – of your portfolio!

So who should sales reps first reach out to then?

90% of what you need to know about your existing customers is already in your ERP, with the remaining 10% in the CRM. The key is in analyzing the data it contains and making sense out of it, to answer questions such as:

  • Which customers are leaving you?
  • When is a given customer expected to place his/her next order?
  • Is there a month in the year when you should specifically focus your loyalty efforts?
  • How can you align your loyalty campaigns with each contact’s individual situation?

Thanks to data science, it has become easy – and inexpensive – to analyze sales data in order to predict customer behavior and create impactful marketing actions. So why let that information sleep, when you could be mining it?

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