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The Quick Guide to B2B Customer Relationship Management

Updated: May 20

Companies that sell Business-to-Business (B2B) products face a myriad of unique customer relationship challenges that Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies don’t. Sales cycles, for instance, are often longer in the B2B sphere. Likewise, different organizational departments—such as sales and marketing—are, more often than not, misaligned about what makes for a qualified lead and, thus, a viable potential customer.

For these reasons, B2B customer relationship management is a complex process that must pay close attention to clients’ needs, cater to the specifics of your target market, and catalog interactions to provide insight into purchasing journeys. Successfully managing your client information is essential for building a B2B relationship and bolstering your sales. So, we’re exploring Client Relationship Managers (CRM) and explaining how to effectively utilize these key tools to keep tabs on your clients’ preferences and leverage them to improve conversions. 

CRM nimbler

The Importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in B2B Relationships 

Keeping track of your client’s preferences, demographics, and other relevant information is essential to personalizing the sales process and facilitating more conversions. 65% of B2B buyers feel that vendors don’t have a solid understanding of their needs—thankfully, you can avoid becoming a part of this telling statistic by effectively utilizing a CRM.

CRMs allow you to foster a deeper understanding of your clientele by cataloging information such as their:

  • Budget

  • Industry

  • Location

  • Staff size

  • Other relevant information

Marketers and sales reps can then utilize this information to tailor communication with their clients, increasing their personability and chances of closing the deal. Over two-thirds of B2B customers fall out of the sales funnel due to the perceived indifference of their vendors, so by utilizing key personal information in sales calls, you can avoid becoming part of this unfortunate statistic as well. And, as personalization enables sales success, customers will convert more reliably, allowing you to forecast sales metrics for an upcoming period more accurately.

Key Components of Effective B2B CRM Strategies 

To optimize your CRM and effectively market to more customers, you’ll need to employ a host of relationship-building strategies. From poignant personalization to effective data collection, here are four salient techniques for B2B CRM optimization.

1. Personalization and Segmentation 

As mentioned, personalization is essential to keeping B2B clients interested in your business and its offerings. Effective CRM systems empower you and your colleagues to customize sales calls with relevant customer information and develop deeper, more personal relationships with account holders.

The relevant personal information stored in CRMs can also power effective segmentation efforts. Segmentation is the process of breaking down your customer base into similar groups to facilitate marketing and sales. Similar customers require similar marketing approaches, making it pertinent to organize your audience based on factors such as:

  • Demographics, like age, gender, job title, company size, and location. 

  • Behavioral characteristics, such as your target market’s purchasing patterns.

  • How well your solutions suit the industry they work in.

2. Sales and Marketing Alignment 

Up to 90% of businesses report alignment issues between their sales and marketing departments, and estimates put annual lost revenue due to such misalignment at over $1 trillion globally. Some of the most glaring issues sales and marketing fail to see eye-to-eye on include:

  • Strategy

  • The sales process

  • Corporate culture

Luckily, effective CRM utilization allows companies to align sales efforts more closely across different departments. When information is collected from a sales call or other customer interaction, it can be logged directly in a company-wide database, where every organizational member can quickly and accurately get up to speed on an account. With proper B2B CRM, no sales tasks need to be siloed or forgotten.

3. Data Collection and Analysis 

Data is the foundation of sales success in the B2B sphere—now and into the future. Over 60% of modern B2B businesses plan to move from experiential and intuition-based sales techniques to a data-driven sales process by 2025.

Why? Because the sales process is becoming more customer-driven. 75% of B2B buyers already want to forego sales reps when making purchasing decisions and that figure only appears to be rising.

Logging information about customers’ buying habits in your CRM allows you to better forecast when they’re up for renewals or need an upgrade. It also lets you provide them with critical data about your products that can convince them to invest in your solutions.

Likewise, tracking sales data in your CRM allows you to easily measure key metrics—such as total sales, revenue, and profit—for different periods. You can also utilize this data to make more accurate predictions about future sales figures and business performance. 

4. Technology Integration 

An effective CRM is the ultimate tool in a marketer’s kit to facilitate customer interactions and sales, but it’s not the only one they need to connect with their clientele. 

CRMs should be highly integrable and function alongside your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and email marketing tools to facilitate sales tasks. An effective CRM, for instance, can identify where a client is in the sales funnel and then employ your ERP to delegate relevant sales tasks to the correct staff member. 

Likewise, robust CRMs can recognize when a potential lead has gone unnourished and use your email marketing solution to generate an appropriate message enticing them back to your company.

B2B Relationship Building Techniques 

The strategies you use to build and foster client relationships will vary depending on your industry, goals, and location. Nonetheless, there are some common techniques—such as forging strategic partnerships and maintaining a high degree of customer trust—that benefit any B2B company.

Networking and Partnerships 

Leveraging networking opportunities and strategic partnerships is essential to drive revenue and expand your potential market. Nearly half of businesses actively seek to forge more strategic partnerships, while up to 95% of revenue generated by huge corporations such as Microsoft comes from their partner ecosystem.

Seek out companies that work in industries similar to yours but don’t offer competitive solutions when looking for strategic partners. Likewise, look for large, established, healthy alliances to join into to expand your partnerships quickly across multiple companies at once. 

Trust and Transparency 

Trust is the essence of expansion for B2B companies. 85% of B2B buyers say they’ll recommend a business to their peers if they trust it—so fostering confidence in your company should be a top priority.

Be open and transparent in all communications with potential customers to earn and maintain their trust. Don’t hide any fees, be reticent about what features clients get access to, or do anything else to jeopardize their confidence in favor of profit. B2B sales is often a long game, so ensuring your clients trust you will pay dividends down the road. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in B2B Relationships 

CRM Tools and Technologies for B2B 

There are a variety of CRM solutions available on the market and a plethora of add-ons to optimize them. However, these tools aren’t all created equal and can be distinguished by their features, upsides, and drawbacks. Some of the most noteworthy include:

  • Salesforce – With nearly a third of the market share, Salesforce is by far the largest CRM worldwide by volume. That means there are countless add-ons and integrations to elevate its standard version—but they’ll all come at a cost. Price is where Salesforce falls short (or, should we say, rises above) other CRMs. Its basic unlimited plan (without additional features) runs an eye-popping $330 monthly, and you'll pay another $170 each month for customer service.

  • Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) – Adobe’s CRM is the second largest based on market share. If you already use other Adobe products, it will integrate seamlessly into your current technological ecosystem. Unfortunately, suppose you want a plug-and-play CRM system that’s ready to purchase and use out of the box. In that case, AEM may not be the best choice as all pricing is custom, and you’ll have to navigate negotiations and onboarding before you can begin effectively utilizing your solution.

  • Nimbler – Nimbler is an incredibly effective, multi-faceted, and affordable platform capable of supporting any business’s commercial success. With features that help your company generate and qualify leads, enrich contact data, create campaign posts and client responses via AI, and clean up outdated and inaccurate client information, it’s the ultimate tool for B2B businesses hoping to elevate their sales techniques and more effectively market to their target audience.

nimbler - best practices for maintaining strong b2b relationships

Best Practices for Maintaining Strong B2B Relationships 

There are some key considerations to consider when fostering customer relationships amongst B2B companies. 

For starters, onboarding new clients is one task many B2B vendors get wrong. Over 90% of customers think that companies can improve their onboarding processes, and that’s likely due to the fact that it takes most companies 100 or so days to bring corporate clients up to speed. Ensure your onboarding process is swift and efficient to avoid annoying new clients and potentially deterring them from renewing their contracts.

After clients are onboarded, it’s essential to provide exceptional ongoing support for each of your accounts. Nearly 90% of B2B customers claim they’ll switch vendors after a single negative experience—so don’t let them have even one subpar interaction to boost retention and renewal numbers.

Advanced Strategies for B2B Engagement 

After getting the basics down pat, you can explore more advanced techniques for keeping your B2B relationships fresh and engaging. Some strategies you may want to try include: 

  • Personalized content marketing 80% of B2B buyers expect the same kind of personalization they receive in B2C interactions. Depending on your marketing approaches, this can mean anything from adding clients’ names to emails to developing custom demos that showcase why a product fits their specific needs.

  • Exclusive events – Pop-ups, release parties, and other industry events can create a ton of buzz and make your customers feel highly honored if they get an invite. Plan small, exclusive soirees and invite your most important clients to keep them engaged and drum up more interest in your business.

  • Collaborative projects – Collaborating with other industry players is one surefire way to build your business’s notoriety, reach more customers, and keep your current clientele engaged and excited. Look for opportunities to work with companies that will elevate your brand and name and those you can likewise bolster with your unique ideas and offerings. 

Partner with Nimbler to Optimize Your Client Relationships and Drive Sales

CRMs are essential to building genuine, fruitful business relationships in the B2B industry. They provide companies with the client information they need to inform sales calls and marketing efforts. They likewise predict future sales figures with key analytical insights that can help your company appropriately prepare for upcoming quarters.

However, CRM optimization techniques are constantly changing, so it’s essential to consistently reexamine and reevaluate your approach to fostering B2B relationships. Alternatively, you can let Nimbler do that for you. 

Nimbler is an intelligent, all-in-one B2B data and sales automation platform. It will revolutionize your company’s CRM approach by effectively organizing your data, generating custom responses to objections, and automating a variety of other sales and marketing tasks. 

Try it for free to see just how easily Nimbler manages customer relationships.

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