B2B customer acquisition - The most important points in brief:
We want to be honest: “New Customer Acquisition” is actually the wrong term when it comes to B2B customer acquisition because there are not really “new customers” in this context. Of course, there are always new startups that you can genuinely acquire as new customers for your company. However, in most cases, the companies you want as customers have been in existence for years or even decades and already have all the suppliers and partners they need. For your customer acquisition, this means that you need to win customers away from competitors for your company.
Customer acquisition encompasses all activities you undertake to acquire new customers for your company, product, or service. In the B2B sector, these are usually other companies to whom you want to provide your service or product to help them achieve their goals or to act as their supplier. B2B customer acquisition is therefore not aimed at end customers.
Customer acquisition is divided into warm and cold customer acquisition.
Warm customer acquisition is not directly related to acquiring new customers since it works through existing contacts. Its purpose is to persuade former or existing customers to use your company’s services again or to turn contacts with whom you previously had a different type of business relationship into customers.
Cold customer acquisition is what we primarily want to focus on as it encompasses all forms of acquiring new customers. You need to establish contact with the customer, and they may not even be familiar with your company. Cold acquisition includes marketing efforts such as mailings, online ad campaigns, social selling, webinars, events, trade shows, and the well-known cold acquisition calls. Be cautious with the latter: According to the law, you can only call companies that you believe have a genuine interest in your service or product.
Customer acquisition is essential not only for companies that are new and need to establish their customer base and partner network but also for companies that have existed for a long time and have established customers and partners. Even if you have a solid base of existing customers, relying solely on them can pose a significant risk to your business.
Let’s consider the example of the two customer loyalty programs, Payback and DeutschlandCard. Payback had B2B customers with a wide reach through Rewe and Penny, which Payback could leverage effectively for the visibility of the blue points. However, the contracts with Rewe and Penny are expiring and will not be renewed. Is this a problem for Payback? No! Thanks to effective customer acquisition, Payback has already secured an equivalent replacement by acquiring Edeka, along with its affiliated chains (including Netto and Marktkauf), as new customers. However, these chains were previously the largest customers of DeutschlandCard. It remains to be seen whether DeutschlandCard will conduct customer acquisition as effectively as Payback and mitigate this loss or whether they will face a significant setback with Edeka leaving to Payback.
To prevent you from facing a situation like DeutschlandCard with the problem just described, we have compiled 10 valuable tips for your B2B customer acquisition.
You need to carefully consider which companies are even eligible as a target audience for you. Who could have a need for your service/product? Which company actually has the necessary budget? Create one or more Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) for this purpose. This is the profile of a purely hypothetical company that possesses all the characteristics to be your ideal customer. Then, only approach companies that match your ICP. Define Buyer Personas for these companies (individuals within the company who are involved in the purchasing decisions).
To provide optimal consulting and service quality to companies that align with your ICP, you must precisely define your customer benefit. This also includes highlighting your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) since, in most cases, you will need to win new customers away from competitors. What makes your product/service better? How can your offering make your potential new customers’ daily work easier or boost their sales figures? Only by doing so can you effectively convey your added value to your potential new customers.
To understand your own added value, you should analyze the products and services of your competitors very closely. After all, you want to convince their customers to switch to you.
Most companies are very satisfied with their partners/suppliers and see no reason to switch to another provider they don’t even know. Therefore, you must know very precisely why you and your offering are better than the others, and you must be able to convincingly demonstrate this to customers. Is your solution faster? More effective? More cost-efficient? Do you solve a problem that the competitor hasn’t even recognized? Is your product of higher quality, more innovative, etc.? It’s best to create a detailed competitive analysis.
Nothing appears more unprofessional than having to inquire about the right contact person when calling a company. Your counterpart will immediately realize that you haven’t done your homework. And if you’re sloppy in customer acquisition, it’s unlikely that much thoroughness can be expected elsewhere. Therefore, make a good first impression by knowing exactly whom you want to speak to.
You can find out who the right contact person is through Google, the company’s website, social media, and business networks like LinkedIn or Xing, or through your own network.
Just as you google your potential new customers, they also search for you in return. Therefore, ensure that you not only have an optimal, modern website with all the essential information and contact details but also establish a presence on social media and career networks. Your online presence should be professional across the board, and ideally, you should showcase great customer reviews, numerous followers, and an enthusiastic community. Clearly highlight your added value in your online presence and convince the companies that search for you with case studies and other illustrative materials.
Show your presence in your industry beyond your online activities by attending trade shows, giving presentations, and participating in other events related to your field. Ideally, you might even host such an event yourself or get involved in an event, for instance, through sponsorship.
At such industry gatherings, you can engage in ideal networking. You have the opportunity to make a personal appearance and establish direct contact with your potential new customers. The atmosphere at these events is usually relaxed and friendly, with most attendees being open to good conversations. It’s quite different from when they are disrupted by annoying sales pitches in their daily work routine.
Take advantage of the openness of event participants and use the event to convince them of your offering or at least make connections. A call to a contact person at a company is much more promising when they remember you from an industry event.
In recent years, social networks have gained increasing importance in B2B customer acquisition. LinkedIn, in particular, stands out in this regard. You can connect with contacts from industry gatherings there to stay in touch, but you can also link up with individuals from your industry whom you haven’t known before, thus establishing initial contacts. Additionally, you can generate attention by sharing engaging content. However, depending on the industry, you can also make connections and score points with great content in other social networks.
Since Social Selling in B2B primarily involves identifying target customers and building comprehensive customer relationships with them, platforms like LinkedIn and Xing are suitable platforms for any industry. It’s possible to identify decision-makers in companies and engage in direct contact with them. However, before you do so, make sure to optimize your respective profiles because the individuals you’re reaching out to will closely scrutinize who is contacting them before responding.
Generating contacts through social networks or email marketing is good, but nothing beats a personal conversation. Since trade shows are not always an option, this means you need to pick up the phone. Many people feel uncomfortable promoting their product over a phone call, partly because they themselves are not fans of telemarketing calls and partly due to fear of rejection.
Here are a few tips on how to make your customer acquisition calls more pleasant for both parties:
To have an overview of all your contacts, leads, emails, phone calls, and the like, you should use CRM software (Customer Relationship Management Software). In it, you can manage all customer relationships. Enter all details for each customer so that colleagues can stay informed about the status of things at any time. Therefore, the data should be accessible to all relevant team members. CRM software also assists you in analyzing the success of your B2B customer acquisition efforts.
The success rate for cold acquisition is relatively low. Often, several contact attempts are necessary before customers decide on an offer. Therefore, you should by no means be deterred by a “no.” Continue to maintain the contact in your CRM database. Perhaps it was simply an inconvenient time for the offer, and later on, the contact may be more receptive. Maybe your offer was missing something that the contact needed, and at a later time, you can provide that missing element.
In summary, B2B customer acquisition demands a significant amount of time and effort for both preparation and follow-up. Therefore, schedule dedicated and regular time slots for it, and above all, be thorough. When speaking with the respective contacts, you should aim to convince them both professionally and emotionally, and this can only be achieved with thorough preparation.
However, don’t forget about your existing customers amidst all your potential new ones. Also, plan time for nurturing these relationships. You wouldn’t want your customers to become new customers for your competitors. Stay in regular contact, inquire about their well-being, and inform your existing customers whenever you have new products or services to offer.