Think about your favorite brand. What is it that keeps you going back to that company? Of course product quality and personal preference plays a major role in your decision, but with so many options on the market, and at varying price points, why do you choose to repeatedly purchase from that company time and time again?
The answer is simple - loyalty - and in today’s competitive market, earning a customer’s loyalty is critical, with companies looking for new ways to attract and retain repeat business. This is where loyalty programs shine, and while Business to Consumer (B2C) loyalty programs are highly utilized around the world by putting the customer experience first, Business to Business (B2B) loyalty programs are gaining momentum and catching up to their B2C cousins, and rightfully so with consumer programs proving it costs up to five times more to generate a new customer than to retain an existing one. It’s no wonder B2B companies today are looking for solutions to earn their fair share of customer loyalty and rapidly grow their business.
The difference between B2B and B2C loyalty programs
While the basic functions of a B2C program can be applied to a B2B model, there are key differences to be aware of. With a consumer model, businesses market promotions and offers to all of its customers, have simpler pricing models and target offers based on buying behavior and demographics. Whereas B2B programs need to include additional components, for example:
- Managing complex sales channels that target different types of businesses i.e. distributors, sales partners and retailers
- Pricing that is often personalized to a customer and driven by factors that include volume sales and a partners status
- Many B2B companies are heavily reliant on sales reps to nurture relationships - which is perfectly reasonable when you’re selling products that come with a high price tag
- There are more stakeholders and decisions makers that need to be engaged and influenced ongoing to retain a customers loyalty
To ensure the success of your B2B loyalty program you’ll need to understand what drives each customer and tailor your program to appeal to those needs, then continue to engage and recognize each customer to influence their behaviors, leading to long-term growth and loyalty.
Why is a B2B loyalty program so important?
Just like in the consumer world, decision makers want to feel recognized and valued from their interactions. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you are to retain the customer’s consistent business. A loyalty program nurtures that relationship using a variety of engagement and incentive strategies that drives the customer to stay loyal to your business and influence their purchasing/selling behaviors.
Studies from Gartner show that 78% of B2B buyers with new business needs are as likely to choose a new provider as they are to expand their account with an incumbent - so finding ways to level the playing field and retain a customer is becoming more important than ever.
The benefits of a B2B program
Here are just a few ways a B2B loyalty program can benefit your business.
- Grow your top-line revenue by nurturing repeat business
- Increase the LTV (lifetime value) of a customer
- Help you reach more decision makers and influence their buying/selling behaviours
- Reduce the overall cost of loyalty by moving away from discounting to a balanced program that adopts monetary incentives and a best-in-class customer experience
- Help you understand your customer and their needs so you can improve the service and product you offer
Tips for a successful B2B Loyalty Program
Successful loyalty programs combine different strategies and practices. Here are some of the key ones to consider:.
- Make it easy for your customers to do business with you by creating an integrated portal where they can buy your product, access resources and information, and get recognized for their loyalty.
- Give your customer a voice. Customers want to be heard and the best way to do this is by regularly asking for feedback and linking these interactions to behaviour, for example, after a customer has purchased from you.
- Target, target, target! Get your existing customer database up-to-date using the insights you unearth and only offer products, promotions and other supporting services such as training that are relevant to your customer.
- Treat your customers like business partners and move away from a transactional relationship.
- Use smart automation tools to connect with more customers more regularly, and in a highly personalized way that makes their experience feel organic.
- Integrate an employee element to your program by rewarding your own employees for going beyond the call of duty for a customer.
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