Thursday, April 24, 2008

B2B Loyalty

The Marketing Leadership Council and marketing Leadership Roundtable conducted a study to focus on the drivers of business-to-business (B2B) loyalty. They found the cost of switching suppliers is higher and more complex in a B2B environment than in the business-to-consumer (B2C) environment. They also discovered that the purchase decision is much more complex due to the requirement of input from multiple individuals. Finally, they found that while the B2C environment allows customer advocates to influence their peers, B2B customer advocates must influence individuals at multiple levels in the customer organization.

The Council and the Roundtable explored more than 100 marketing practices and capabilities that have been considered influential to B2B customer loyalty. The surprise was that the drivers were very different from the drivers that have been discussed in the B2C environment.

According to the Council and Roundtable the top drivers of B2B loyalty were identified and organized usting a three-pronged approach - Learn, Teach and Amplify. This translates into the following:

First, B2B companies should capture customer data across various functions in their organizations.
Second, this information can be used to provide value by teaching customers what othes in their segment are doing.
Third, the customer advocates won through this approach should be empowered with the right knowledge and tools to effectively promote their supplier's differentiated value proposition to key decision makers.

According to the study this method of "Learn, Teach, Amplify" made a significant difference in driving customer loyalty among the B2B companies they studied.

The bottom line is that B2B companies are really in a different world than B2C companies. Their selling and service processes are typically much more complicated than the B2C. I believe more study needs to be done in this area. It seems that the literature is very limited.

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