In B2B, Don’t Be Afraid to Test Something New

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros

B2B-idea-communicationIt’s no secret that many people are involved in B2B buying decisions—Global Spec reports that less than seven percent of B2B buyers decide on their own, said Phil Robins, general manager of Block & Co.

What’s the best way to connect with the B2B buyer and close the sale? Testing a variety of approaches is the key, according to speakers at the B2B Online event in Chicago this week.

Marketing material passalong is heavy in B2B and the sales cycle is long. Acquiring only one buyer at a B2B site might not be profitable—marketers need to acquire as many as contacts as possible, said Robins.

Block & Co, a marketer of money handling supplies, tested whether marketing to multiple specifiers would drive site level sales. The test, which reached 10,000 specifiers at 3,000 customer sites with direct mail and email over the course of several months, resulted in an eight percent sales lift.

Tory Brunker, director, B2B ecommerce marketing, Office Depot, noted that B2B marketers need to use the data they have to engage in personalization. Even the most basic individual touches can move the needle when it comes to building relationships.

“Collect data from all your interactions and start simple—consistency is key,” she said.

Before trying something new, it pays to get buy-in from your sales force—both the reps out in the field and the sales leadership. “They interact with the customer all day long and can be your biggest [asset]—show them the art of the possible,” said Jim Lyman, senior director, eCommerce and Mobility, US Foods.

US Foods first foray into mobile was an app called “Where’s My Truck”, which allowed customers to track their deliveries almost down to the minute. This freed up time for the company’s 3,500 sales reps, who were constantly getting calls from accounts wondering about the status of their latest order.

The sales force tested the app before it was rolled out, allowing the company to work out kinks before it went live and build excitement, as reps showed the app to customers during site visits

“We went after specific pain points with our B2B apps,” said Lyman. “We now look at mobile as just another way to interact. It’s just part of our ecosystem now.”

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