The #1 Trait of a Great B2B Marketer (or Salesperson)

b2b-marketers

I’ll cut right to it — the number one trait of a great B2B marketer is the ability to recognize your customers/prospects as people working at a company not as the company as a whole.

If you sell payroll software, your client is not ABC Company. Your client is Jane Doe who happens to be the Payroll Manager at ABC Company.

If you’re a bank, your target isn’t XYZ Distribution. Your target is Bill Smith or Sue Thompson who happen to be the Controller and CFO of XYZ Distribution.

Stop Putting Your B2B Customers in a Box

VIP Crowd, a rewards hub for professionals, is my second B2B startup. The first, TermSync (acquired by Esker), is an accounts receivable management platform.

A key part of TermSync’s platform was a payment portal that B2B customers used to pay their vendors (our clients). We’d always hear prospects say their customers will never pay online. They’d put them in a box and claim, they’re too rural. They’re too old. Or, they don’t like technology.

At VIP Crowd, we’re seeing the same type of excuses:

  • My customers won’t care about rewards like gift cards, tech products, donations to charity, etc.
  • My clients are (insert stereotype of boring career here). They won’t care about gamification.
  • My product/service isn’t exciting enough for customers to take time to provide feedback or help us out.

It’s true — not all end customers will make online payments and not all customers will find value in an advocacy platform. But a huge amount will. Once you look at your customers as people and not companies, this becomes obvious.

Let’s look at these excuses one by one.

Breaking Down the B2B Customer Stereotypes

  • Too rural – I grew up in a town of 2,200 people and no stop lights in the whole county. It doesn’t get more rural than that. Guess what? Everyone I know is online. When you know actual people in these areas instead of stereotyping, it’s pretty clear this is not a valid argument.
  • Too old – I never thought my mom would get online, let alone my grandma. Both now use Facebook regularly and are on Instagram too. Pictures of their grandkids online got them started, and they never looked back. I’m guessing everyone reading this has similar experiences.
  • Don’t like technology – There is some overlap with the “too old” excuse here, but how many people said they’d never have a cell phone? Then, they’d never send a text. Then, they’d never be on Facebook. I bet you know a lot of people who said those things. Did they cave? I bet most did. I also bet a lot of them now send emojis regularly and are even on Snapchat.
  • Don’t care about rewards – Are they human? Then there’s a good chance they’ll like free stuff. Try it. Think of a human you know. Do they like free stuff?
  • Too boring for gamification to work – I started my career as a CPA. I still work with lots of fellow accounting nerds. Big surprise here, many of us (like other “boring” professionals) are extremely competitive. We want our name on the top of the leaderboard.
  • Product isn’t exciting enough for advocacy – Do you add value to your clients? Does your product save them time and/or money? If so, they like you and will help tell your story. If not, find a new company to work for because you’re not going to retain many clients.

B2B Customers Are People

When we stop stereotyping and actually think of our customer (or prospect) as a person, it becomes clear how stupid these excuses are. It also makes it easier to uncover their pain points and show them how your product/service can add value.

Obviously, there are exceptions. When dealing with people, there are no absolutes. I think it’s human nature to first think of the people that won’t do something rather than the ones that will. Some people really don’t like technology. Some people don’t like fun. Some people even cheer for the Bears over the Packers. That’s okay. You’re not going to be able to convert everyone, and luckily you don’t need to.

It all comes down to whether you feel enough of your customers will participate and find value. When you think of them first as a person, this becomes an easy exercise.

(Bonus common sense tip – actually talk to them about it. Third party research is good and surveys can help, but there is nothing like actually having a conversation with your customers.)

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