Have you just created or redesigned a B2B product or service? It’s an exciting time and we know you love your new product. But we also know this: not everybody loves it or even thinks they need it. Sound familiar?
If you’re struggling with finding your audience and arousing their interest, keep reading.
In this article, we will guide you through the identification and understanding of the customer group that will buy your product. We will also explain how to discover the value you need to propose to get their attention in the first place.
A B2B customer usually consists of more decision-makers and users, so defining the customers’ motivation behind a successful business deal can be quite tricky. So, let’s dig in...
Generally speaking, an “ideal customer”, is someone who:
- has their needs fulfilled by your product and, at the same time, fulfills your business needs and goals
- clearly understands the value of your product
- is nice to deal with, the cooperation goes smoothly and they give you referrals
- returns “for more”
Of course, these are the customers you want but they won’t come out of nowhere. Acquiring customers is a lot of work (and money) so before you start, make sure you’re reaching out to the right people.
Here’s what you need to do to identify the ideal customers:
1. Know your product
That includes knowing:
- what is the most prominent value, the no. 1 thing you offer to your customers
- what your customers struggle with, their pains
- who would benefit from your product the most
- what makes you stand out among competitors - the unique value proposition that differentiates your product
2. If you already have existing customer data and past interactions, analyze them
This is the time for you to look back on the deals you’ve opened. Were they a success or did they fail? Try to search for common grounds among them. If you see a positive pattern in your successful deals, keep reaching out to similar types of customers and look for similarities - are they from the same industry, the same size, age, have the same problem, …? Equally, if you see any pattern in the deals that didn’t work out, get rid of this type of customer asap.
3. State your business goals
Take the customers you already have and compare them to those you want to have. Better yet, compare both those you have and those you want to have with your business plan. Will they help you reach it? The deals need to be of a certain size, so do your math. Simply put: You don’t want to sell SAP-sized solutions to tiny startups as it could take forever to reach your business goals. Generally, customers bringing low revenue, with low retention rates, not returning, only signing up for (free) demos and trials won’t get you anywhere.
4. Research, research, and more research
Carry out market and industry research and analyze your competitors. Do not try to sell where the competition is already established and too big to beat. If you already have customers, talk to them. Ask them why they picked you over others, what they love about you and what they don’t appreciate as much.
The most honest feedback is collected by asking for money so don’t waste much time getting feedback from non-users, go out there and try to sell it. Remember, the market is ever-evolving. New technologies and trends mean new pains. Perform research consistently and keep an eye on your competition.
5. Build an ideal customer profile and create buyer personas
If you talk to everyone, you don’t talk to anyone. To avoid wasting resources on potential customers that won’t generate any business, find the groups of companies and people that represent your target audience. You need to learn who they are, their challenges, habits, goals and pains before reaching out to them. Creating ideal customer profiles and personas helps understand who you are talking to and creating the product for. In B2B business, “ideal customer” means a company, whereas, “buyer persona” is the key decision maker and the key user/buyer within the company.
How creating ideal customer profile and buyer personas benefits you:
- makes you know and understand your potential customers, allowing for targeted reach
- helps with decision-making regarding new features or services
- shows which companies and people not to target
- helps your team understand who they’re helping and why
How to define an ideal customer profile:
It’s well advised to state the right companies first. It’s easier to understand your buyer personas already knowing what types of companies they work for. Write down necessary information about a target company, such as:
- pain and need
- no. of employees
Creating a persona, step by step:
Start with the basic information of the employee in a targeted company.
These serve as an initial filter:
- position, industry, company information, salary
- place of residence
Then add some detailed information.
These will state what they’re struggling with and show how the two of you are a match. They can be, for example:
- challenges, fears and pain points
- what products they are currently using
- how you can help them
Try to identify the right way to get your product in front of your target persona.
Apart from sales outreaching, think of marketing channels where:
- they get their information
- they’re spending time
- they read any blogs, watch vlogs, listen to podcasts
If you have funding, and understand where your potential customers go for answers, you can start investing in these areas.
1. write down the most you can (even company sizes, structures, decision process, etc.) All collected information should influence your business decisions.
2. get your information right from the source: interview your current customers and ask them why they chose you, what they love about you and what they don’t like as much
Time to propose ...
Now you know how to create an ideal customer profile, which means you’re about half way there. Once you start reaching out to potential customers you have to convey the right message to arouse their interest. Conveying the right message means targeting potential customers with a convincing value proposition.
Find prospecting tips and strategies, in this article.
What is a value proposition and why bother?
Value proposition is a short statement that explains the value of your product. It's the no.1 thing on your website, the biggest, boldest and not to be overlooked statement. Particularly, if you’re a young unknown company, you need to pay extra attention to how and where you display your value proposition. Only truly great value propositions make a strong first impression. It is the reason for your potential customers to buy from you. To put it simply - stronger value proposition improves your conversion rates and sales.
Your value proposition usually conveys:
- what you do and who you do it for
- specific benefits the customers get
- why you’re better than your competitors
Always think of what you do the best - project what gives you the competitive advantage into your value proposition. You need to deliver value that your competitors don’t. This makes you stand out and it gives people a reason to work with you. Otherwise, why would they?
TIP: Communicate your value proposition in every major entry point on your website - homepage, product pages, category pages, etc.
How to get ONE value proposition?
When you start thinking about ALL the values your product has, there will be about a hundred, won’t there? (spending less time on ..., having better control of ..., improved numbers of ..., happier employees, etc.) Do not fight with your colleagues over the values because they all make sense, all are reasonable and all are logical. Write them down for all industries and types of companies (size, industry, location, revenue, etc.) that you think would be a fit and start reaching out to them to see how they react to the values. Keep using the one that arouses the biggest interest and brings the highest number of conversions.
Define your value propositions, step by step:
Time for some deep reflection. Maybe you’ll find no unique value that you bring to your customers. Then you better come up with something anyway. Even if your product isn’t unique, your value proposition can be. But make sure you don’t push it - come up with something truly useful to your customers.
Start by asking yourself “What do I do better than others?”
- establish your potential customer base
- think of your customers’ pains and write down all the benefits you bring them
- identify the value your product brings to each industry, company size, location, … and link them to benefits
TIP: Invite your team for a workshop. Together, fill and keep a table like the one below and keep it handy:
How to write your value proposition, step by step:
Now you have all the necessary information, it’s time to write them down in a meaningful statement(s). Sum it up in 3 - 4 sentences. There are more ways to do it, so do not limit yourself to this instruction, take it as inspiration.
Generally, a value proposition can consist of:
- a headline
- visual elements
- bullet points
The headline usually consists of 1 sentence. It absolutely needs to grab attention. It explains the main benefit you’re offering.
The paragraph can be a little longer - about 2-3 sentences with a detailed explanation of what you have to offer, to whom and what they get.
The bullet points are not seen as often but can be a good way to list the features or benefits of your product.
Visual elements can be a picture, video, graph, etc. reinforcing your key message.
- A good value proposition is easy to read and understand, shows results the potential customers reach and explains why you’re better than your competitors
- It’s written in the language of your customers. To achieve that, you need their opinion first. Interview them to find out what they’re looking for. You can also send a survey and then pick and use common words and phrases
- Remember that value proposition is not a slogan!
- Avoid cliches like “best”, “revolutionary”, etc.
- Lower price is never a value proposition!
Examples of value propositions we like:
So what are the takeaways?
Remember, DO NOT TALK TO EVERYBODY! Find your target customer group and always strive for a match.
In other words, you need to bring value to your customers and they need to get you to your numbers in return.
Find the right value proposition and display it. Research, analyse, test and measure regularly, as the market is constantly evolving, competition arrives and the needs of your customers are changing. As your business grows and evolves, your customer base will, too.