For the TLDR fans: Companies who consider themselves to be Business-FOR-Business (B4B) tend to outperform companies that are just doing Business-TO-Business (B2B), and the result can be - after a lot of heavy lifting - that customers actually LOVE doing business with them! And that LOVE pays huge dividends!
In fact, most companies probably don’t even know how happy their customers are with their products & services. That’s because almost all companies measure things like “customer satisfaction” or “level of the customer experience” or some other non-meaningful metric. It turns out that satisfaction is simply not a strong indication of how strong customer loyalty is, nor does satisfaction function well as a predictive indicator to how much your customers are willing to pay for your products & services nor how much business they are willing to do with you.
There is a much stronger metric you should be measuring that actually serves as a true predictive indicator to whether or not you company will be successful with your customers & continue to grow or not. We would like to describe that metric in somewhat more of a “business” tone, something like “customer engagement” or “emotional attachment” or something to that effect. But why mess around? In fact, what you should be looking to achieve is LOVE from your customers. You want your customers to say “I LOVE the products I get from XYZ” or “I LOVE the services I receive from ABC”, or even “I LOVE doing business with the company that powers my business”! You WANT your customers to LOVE YOU!
Look, we have all read about the Zappos Experience. They focus on two major priorities. Number 1 is their company culture (more on that later) and priority number 1b (a really close second to priority number one) is to deliver outstanding customer service, to “wow” their customers, and to create strong customer stickiness and an equally strong brand. So what happens when Zappos does this? Their customers LOVE them. The company that Tony Hsieh built focussing entirely on company culture and customers is still thriving, even after Mr. Hsieh left the company in the Summer of 2020 and has since, sadly, passed away.
But Zappos is a Business-to-Consumer company. Surely it is easier to “wow” the masses through outstanding customer product services than it is to get skeptical Business-to-Business customers to LOVE your products & services in a highly-competitive transactional environment, in which tough business development, sales and contract negotiations take the romanticism out of the relationship…right?
Wrong! There are a number of B2B companies out there who “wow” their customers & clients as suppliers or business partners. In fact, it is probably – we would argue – easier to “wow” your customers if you are B2B than if you are B2C. In a B2C environment, it is difficult to put a face behind the service you are receiving as a customer. Especially in the online retail environment. In B2B – customers or clients usually have personal contacts with their suppliers and business partners. The latter have every opportunity to become true trusted advisors to the former…
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“B4B versus just being B2B…what´s love got to do with it?”
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They can “wow” their customers or clients with fully understanding their business challenges, needs and opportunities to succeed in their respective markets, deploying a kind of Business-FOR-Business (B4B) model that actually helps drive the business of their customers & clients to enhance their business and market growth! In a B4B model, account teams or individual sales managers can develop an intimate relationship with their customers, clients or business partners. The better the relationship, the stronger the bond. The supplier-customer relationship can form a kind of bond that is very similar to “LOVE” in a way that the customer might say, “I just love working with XYZ! They help me and my business to be successful so that we can grow!” Sometimes it gets more personal. “Because of my business relationship with XYZ, I got a promotion due to the fact that my business grew exponentially and we never had a glitch in service delivery, or when we did, my partners were able to solve the situation to our utmost delight!”
This is how LOVE is created in an B4B relationship. It is driven by TRUST and RELIABILITY and intimate knowledge of what it will take to make the customer successful – not just selling product & services to them. Once you get into a B4B relationship, your customers, clients or business partners can fall in love with you.
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“The opposite of love is hate! Which would you rather have from your business partners?”
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Or they can HATE you! If you are a pure B2B company that focusses only on closing the deal, raking in the revenue and leaving the relationship to the whims of “satisfaction”, which in our minds is a “C” relationship on the grading scale and suggests that even if you score high on satisfaction, you may never have created true love, as you might in a B4B relationship.
So, if you want to progress from B2B to B4B there is a lot to do: your company culture has to use a lot of elements from Tony Hsieh´s approach…engage and excite your employees by developing a compelling vision, a workable mission to achieve that vision and a purpose to give real meaning to the everyday and sometimes routine jobs that many employees have to do. And give to your employees as much as you expect from them! Give them the LOVE they deserve so that they can spread that LOVE to your customers, clients and business partners!
There are a number of other elements that go into creating a true B4B company that spreads the love…learn more by visiting either of the websites below: