Fundamentals of B2B CRM: Strategies, Use Cases, and Benefits It Brings

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06 Jun 2019
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10 min
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Maria D.
Copywriter

B2B relationship management is called more complex than B2C one. Maybe it’s because the buying cycles take longer , or the business is more contact-based and caters to a smaller audience. Or maybe the reason lies in more people involved in purchase decisions. The sales are rational here, not driven by emotions.

So there’s no victory of getting leads without a good plan. And a good tool. B2B CRM (customer relationship management) strategy is a company’s plan to use CRM software to boost sales and improve customer service. It’s both a profitable management strategy and a powerful tool for collecting data – exactly what needed for seamless cooperation.

In this article, we're discussing the role of business to business CRM, its benefits and sharing the best B2B CRM strategies. Plus some interesting real-life examples.

What Is B2B CRM?

B2B relationship management is complex, and insights are extremely essential in this field. Business to business CRM helps companies to understand their clients' needs. It includes an overall business strategy with sales, marketing, and customer service data. The system identifies all potential touch points during the customer journey.

Generally, when talking about CRM in B2B business, we may refer to any of these things:

  • Strategy
  • Process
  • Software

Still, B2B CRM should primarily be thought of as a way of understanding and fulfilling customers' needs at each stage of the sales cycle.

B2B CRM software is capable of enabling that. These applications collect information from client's communication channels (website, chats, online calls, email, etc.) and analyze it. The data often includes quotes, inquiries, sales reports, and notices of issues faced. These details are kept in a database, usually a cloud one, that can be acсessed by company staff.

Diving deep into the sales cycles, we can highlight their main idea – guiding customers through content that increases brand awareness and generates leads. And, finally, ends with sales. Besides, if the sale is done with customer care, it ultimately leads to satisfied customers and repetitive purchases.

Sure, it only sounds easy. When companies are the clients, they are likely to have multiple viewpoints and requirements at each stage. So it may be complex to figure out what they need. And it's the perfect time for CRM software to step it.

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The system allows sales and marketing departments to keep track of leads and their details. This way, companies figure out when to motivate customers to move to the next order stage and how to do that.

Main features of B2B Customer Relationship Management

Main points of B2B customer relationship management

Benefits of B2B CRM

Although it’s the sales department who are going to be the main users of CRM software, marketing and service depts benefit from it too. So let’s find out what advantages CRM brings to the B2B environment.

Easier contact management

Spreadsheets may do fine at the start, but not with the growth of business and its requirements. Currently, there's no way a company can do without managing its client base. With a CRM system, staff can upload customer details to the database, prioritize activities, get reminders of important calls and meetings. The company stores each piece of client information and draws it when needed.

How contact management feature in CRM may look like

How contact management interface may look like

Better customer experience

It's not just the product that sells. Customer relationship also plays a great deal and needs nurturing from the very beginning. Especially for B2B sales that take up to a few months , if not the whole year. B2B CRM strategy makes all the difference when it comes to applying personalized approach at all points.

Making real-time quotes

With real-time data near at hand, sales department sends accurate and up-to-date quotes to customers. CRM updates information about transactions, prices, and inventory as soon as they happen. So there will be no situations when inaccurate quotes are sent to clients or false promises are made.

Making quotes and reviewing them is easy with CRM system

Making quotes and reviewing them is easy with CRM software

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Launch of targeted marketing campaigns

Launching one advertising campaign is hard enough, and what if there are multiple products to promote? With B2B CRM systems, companies create highly personalized and automated marketing campaigns that reach the target audience. The staff can swiftly identify potential clients and focus on communicating with them.

How customer details look like in CRM

B2B CRM system is a great asset for any marketing team

In-depth analytics and reporting

The only way to find out if the promotion campaign's been successful is to check its results. Which campaign gives ROI (return on investment), or what's the next sales forecast? Analytics and reporting feature helps the staff to find out which actions gave the return on investment, prepare a sales forecast for the next quarter, and so on. CRM system had a dashboard that shows all the needed metrics and generates accurate reports.

Companies can constantly track the progress using their B2B CRM

Companies can constantly track the progress using the CRM

Thus, CRM software helps B2B companies understand their audience and prioritize business requirements. The system's responsible for data organization, it ensures ease of communication and works on improving customer experience.

B2B CRM Strategies

Managing a company's relationships with customers is complex enough. That’s why we've created a list of 5 time-tested tips that help with client relationships management and drive customer success.

1. Learn about clients' needs

Companies should always know what their customers need and what solutions they prefer. Best way to find out? Dig into the data B2B CRM system stores.

Sales teams use the software to keep the details of their interactions with customers. Talking with potential clients sales rep can ask what they're looking for and why they choose their company. By keeping these details all in one place, it’s pretty simple to figure out what customers need.

2. Concentrate on companies, not individuals

Working in B2B sector means working with companies, not individual contacts. So it’s in companies’ interest to get more corporate customers involved. For instance, they may run in-office training on how to better use their product and encourage senior members of the client's teams to come.

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The more businesses can illustrate how important their solutions are, the more likely companies they work with will become long-term clients.

3. Listen to what they say

Customer success is all about making buyers understand the value of the products. And the best way to start making the product even more valuable is to ask for some feedback.

For instance, start with simple surveys and one-two open-ended question, asking clients to describe their experience. For instance, 'What could be better in our services?' or 'What additional services should we provide?'.

Take enough time to check the replies, looking for most common or recurring requests. By giving the customers a way to voice their opinions, companies get valuable insights that can help with improving the overall business processes.

4. Create the right type of content

Today, B2B customers often rely on the content to get through the buying process and make informed decisions. So it's definitely worth creating a content library that answers the most common questions the audience asks.

According to Live Hive research, customers expect vendors to reach out to them with sales emails, case studies, articles. Meet their expectations – provide and share the right kind of content.

5. Keep an eye on customers' success level

It's all about monitoring whether the customers see the value of the products. Luckily, B2B CRM software allows monitoring these indicators for individual users.

First, check how many customers finish the onboarding process. Then, find out how engaged the clients are on an ongoing basis. And, finally, look at how often the product is used. The more times people use the product, the more valuable it becomes in their eyes.

Examples of B2B CRM Best Practices

We know that it's always better to check some real-life B2B CRM examples. So here comes a short list of well-known brands that use CRM software on a regular basis. Let’s take a look at them.

Unilever

Unilever knows the importance of keeping their clients' data all in one place. That’s why they use CRM software to collect real-time customer insights and launch data collection campaigns. To achieve that, Unilever applied a platform called 'Traction'. The application helps to start and conduct multichannel campaigns, collect customers’ feedback and analyze it.

For instance, to ask customers to complete an online survey for one of the brands – Dove – Unilever engaged all possible channels. This refers to TV, online media, emails, door drops, etc. Result? 128,000 completed surveys – 28,000 more than expected.

Using Traction platform, Unilever managers 44 brands. They constantly improve the level of customer engagement and enhance the great brand experience.

How Unilever uses B2B CRM

Unilever is among the most famous B2B CRM users

British Airways

The level of customer service does matter for a company that flies more than 45 million people. Besides, when it comes to stiff competition, top-level service may be a turning point. That’s why another big and famous UK company – British Airways – applied CRM software for automating ongoing campaigns and improving customer communications. BA decided to use Teradata CRM to figure out customers' needs and fulfill them.

The system allows managing emails, calls and web channels, all with a single interface. This is a platform they need for marketing communications. And with such a powerful tool, no wonder the number of requests went up by 150% . What’s more, BA managed to increase the number of email campaigns which is more cheap and effective – on the contrary of mail ones.

How British Airlines uses B2B CRM software

BA is another successful CRM B2B case study

Cisco

Among the top three businesses that successfully applied CRM software is Cisco – a US tech company. They wanted to increase tech specialists productivity and thought of creating a solution that allows real-time collaboration and response within the enterprise. Said and done. The WebEx software turned out to be a top solution. The B2B CRM system helps to solve complex issues or timely contact the rapid response team.

After applying the WebEx system, the sales department found 20% more time to work on strategic tasks. The number of external interactions was increased by 40%, while the average amount of working time – decreased by 10%.

What’s more important, their customers were fully satisfied with the level of service giving Cisco 4.88 on a five-point scale. That’s the result worth expenses.

How Cisco uses their B2B CRM system

Cisco also knows the importance of CRM in B2B markets

In conclusion

One of the main goals of each business is building a loyal client base. Same for B2B companies – they also struggle with developing the right strategy, generating leads and improving their services.

After all, every customer is unique, with their particular needs and views. And finding the right approach to them is much easier when all the information at hand.

B2B CRM software helps businesses to know their customers better and thus serve them best. Employees work more productively, sales and marketing campaigns are no longer based on 'best guesses' but on clearly defined stages. This ultimately leads to building relationships with buyers and gaining their trust, and that’s the key to success in B2B sales.

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