With the slew of challenges facing the B2B industry today - inflation, supply chain instability, rapidly evolving technology and workplace environments - it’s no wonder that businesses are feeling increasing pressure to stay competitive and prevent customer churn.
When industry growth is slowed, companies can focus on capturing more market share from their competitors.
But those same companies can risk losing their own customers if they start to believe they’ll find greater success elsewhere -- a situation is becoming more common due to the growing disconnect between what B2B sellers offer and what today's buyers are expecting.
What B2B Buyers Want From Their Sellers
Research shows that more B2B buyers say their expectations for the ideal customer have changed - and they’re more than willing to switch sellers in order to get what they need.
Increasing numbers of B2B buyers want to buy from sellers that understand their needs and provide them with solutions, whether that’s through competitive pricing, quick issue resolution, better product or service offerings, greater flexibility, high-quality customer service, and more.
More industries are recognizing the need for a more personalized, customer-centric approach to selling, and the B2B industry is no different. B2B buyers today want sellers to recognize and remember their unique preferences: they want to be able to research and purchase how it suits them, interact with the brand on their preferred channels, and receive offers that are relevant to them.
When buyer trends show an inclination towards exploring options and embracing change, then managers likewise need to adapt their retention and growth strategies.
What This Means For B2B Incentive Programs
As retention and growth strategies evolve, the typical incentive programs currently present in the industry need to evolve along with them. These programs - which are rule-based and supply incentives and rewards to motivate individuals like sales reps, distributors, or customers to participate - have been used for years to help supplement and build B2B relationships.
The traditional format of the “do this, get that” program model helped keep these programs simple and reliable for the businesses that own them. However over time this reliability becomes a hindrance - too many brands simply maintain their current programs year after year, without seeing a need to modify or grow them.
The Need For Smarter B2B Incentive Programs
The “do this, get that” mentality works – up to a certain point. But in order to meet the expectations of modern B2B buyers and reap richer gains, incentive programs need to get smarter.
Smarter programs are able to utilize elements such as first-party data and customer segmentation to provide buyers with more value, such as personalized experiences, highly-relevant recommendations and offers, or more helpful communications. Smarter incentive and loyalty programs are more sustainable, achieve more goals, and show a higher return on investment.
Under challenging market conditions (like the ones mentioned at the beginning of the post) well-designed incentive programs are how B2B brands form stronger, more mutually successful buyer-seller relationships that are built on more than just transactions. They help brands create emotional connections with their customers by supporting both their personal and professional goals – which is key to winning B2B customer loyalty.
How To Get Started Making Smarter Incentive Programs
While the idea of redesigning or refreshing your current incentive or loyalty program might sound daunting, having a trusted partner with experience can help make the process even smoother. That's why we've launched our most recent whitepaper, The Business Case For Smarter Incentives. In it we explore the process for redesigning or refreshing B2B incentive programs: why brands need to do so, the common issues that get in the way, and most importantly, the steps brands can follow to make their program smarter from start to finish.
You can download the whitepaper today to get the full guide, including a checklist of definitive action items for program owners who are looking to improve their B2B incentive or loyalty program.
And the need for a smarter program might be more more dire than you realize. In part 2 of our series we'll explore how to know if your B2B incentive or loyalty program is under-performing, and the potential reasons why.
This blog is the first in our “Smarter Incentives” series, companion posts for our newly-released whitepaper "The Business Case For Smarter Series" . The series explores the reasoning for why today's B2B incentive programs need to be redesigned to be smarter, and how programs managers can refresh their programs to experience greater success and returns. You can download the full whitepaper for free here.