Courtesy of Primary Intelligence, a CustomerCentric Selling® Partner
Although B2B buyers are most interested in product features and functionality when evaluating companies, buyer’s perception of your company can sway their decision in your favor (or not). Primary Intelligence discovered that 20% of buyers, approximately 1 in 5, rate vendors as “poor” in most company-related criteria.
While solution capabilities are typically the most important aspect in B2B sales evaluations, consideration of how vendors are perceived overall – including vendor reputation, service and support, and future direction – are also influential in the final decision.
How can you improve buyers’ perceptions of your company? Here are three best practices you can implement at your organization.
1. Vet customer references.
Ensuring that your company has solid customer references will help to assuage any concerns customers may have about your experience in and commitment to their industry. Look for promoters who can help to evangelize your company and the strategic direction in which it’s heading. Case studies, user conferences, co-webinars, and joint customer-vendor presentations at industry events will help to showcase your most successful customer accounts.
One CIO shared with us,
We didn’t have a lot of references that were a similar fit to the kind of resources we were looking for. Ideally, I was looking for a company similar to our size that was spread out with multiple locations. I could never really get a good, exact fit for somebody to talk to that had the same layout.
2. Share future direction.
It’s important to share product road maps, strategic vision documents, long-term planning, and other evidence of your organization’s future direction with your customers and prospects. Ask recipients to sign non-disclosure agreements if necessary but make sure your customer base is excited about the strategic direction in which you’re headed.
A vice president of IT explained,
They’re trying to change the face that they bring to their customers, but so far I really haven’t seen it materialize in a change. They wouldn’t be on our short list of companies to talk to.
3. Improve service and support.
While service and support is often a challenging area for most companies, understanding what changes need to be made in order to offer customers outstanding service and support will help make your company stand out in the eyes of your customers. Leading organizations target improvements in customer experience as a competitive differentiator to ensure their customers stay loyal over the long term and don’t defect to competing vendors.
The financial manager of a healthcare organization stated,
I’m pretty adamant about customer service at the leadership level. It has eroded a bit lately. They just seemed to be lagging behind.
Remember: Buyers fear that they’re only as good as their partners and providers and that they can’t afford to have a weak link in the chain.