Did you know that the average B2B company is at risk of losing nearly three-quarters of their current customers in the next four years?
A massive Gallup research study of over 108,000 respondents worldwide found that only 29 percent of B2B customers are entirely engaged, while the remaining 71 percent are potentially ready to switch their loyalty to competitors. How can you stem this discouraging tide?
Below is an overview of truths uncovered, together with the best practices that can keep your company on the right side of these numbers:
Knowledge is Power
How well do you know the companies you do business with?
Understanding your customers is a prerequisite to effectively engaging with them, and it’s especially vital to maintain open lines of communication with your most urgent accounts. If you conduct in-depth interviews with some of them, you will gain a strong sense of your customer’s needs and identity – far stronger than any information you will get from surveys or other analytic tools.
However, quantitative measurement does have its place. For instance, you may have an overall “feeling” that your customers are engaged, but subjective opinions must be backed up by solid numbers.
The Gallup study points out that using objective measurement tools is essential, because these remove the account manager or salesperson from the pressure of trying to evaluate their own success.
Put Customers at the Center
The Gallup report points out that even though sales teams may believe they are focused purely on the customer, it often turns out that their attention is turned inward to a surprising degree. As they try to meet internal incentives and goals, while competing against each other, it's easy for sales professionals to lose sight of the fact that customer needs should be at the center of their efforts.
Global Practice Leader Ed O'Boyle summarizes customer centricity in this way:
"Realizing the effect a customer-centric strategy has on their business performance is crucial to creating authentic growth."
Uncover Problems Proactively
You’re certainly aware that customer satisfaction depends partly on how effectively you respond to problems and complaints when they arise. However, playing defense isn’t the whole game.
Customer difficulties and your solutions to them are one of your best resources for strengthening retention, so it’s a best practice to actually go in search of problems. The Gallup report recommends doing annual reviews with each of your high-value accounts to check in with all stakeholders to see how your solution is working out for them. These reviews would ideally include interviews with influencers, decision-makers, users and buyers.
If there’s a pattern emerging where your business can do better, you’ll begin to hear it in these interviews, and bringing proactive solutions will lay the groundwork for increasing your revenue in the future.
Grow With Your Customers
Acquiring competing companies is the primary growth strategy of most companies on the Forbes Global 2000 list, but Gallup CEO Jim Clifton points out that this strategy is reaching a natural endpoint: There are only half as many publicly traded companies now as there were 20 years ago. To keep on growing, the real untapped resource lies in your present customer pool.
So don’t let a laissez-faire attitude toward customer engagement put you in the position of losing 71 percent of your hard-won accounts.
The 2016 Digital Growth Conference in San Francisco is a great opportunity to learn how to adapt your sales and marketing strategies to meet the needs of your customer today. Sign up today and come join us there on March 29, 2016.