With brands struggling to keep up with the evolving and ever-changing demands of their customers, they should consider forming strategic partnerships with businesses to help them successfully achieve their goals.
The expectations of B2B customers in terms of service and purchase options have significantly changed after the dramatic shift to e-commerce in 2020. As per a survey conducted by Salesforce in 2020, approximately 69 percent of B2B customers want companies to offer new ways to access their products and services. Moreover, 54 percent of them want companies to offer more services and products. Notably, around 85 percent of B2B buyers also stated that the experience a brand delivers is as important to them as their products and services.
Looking at these stats, it is evident that brands need to meet these expectations quickly or risk losing their customers to their competitors. To address this situation, brands should expand their service offerings or enhance CX by forming strategic partnerships with trusted businesses. This will enable them to build an ecosystem that delivers on the customers’ expectations so they don’t seek out their competitors. Also, if they make an alliance with a trusted partner, it can give their customers what they want without having to make major investments in developing new lines of business.
Before beginning their journey to find a business partner, brands should find out what their customers want that they don’t yet provide. Since the pandemic has accelerated digital shift, B2B customers are seeking a more B2C-like experience that include some of the below features:
Support for self-service buying: In 2020, Salesforce found that self-service account portals were generating more enthusiasm among customers with 59 percent confirming they are already utilizing self-service when available and 23 percent showing an interest in using them.
For brands that still rely on the catalog-and-sales-call method, the most impactful partnership one can make is with a B2B e-commerce platform. It should integrate with the product catalog so that customers can research products and services and place orders online at any given time.
End-to-end services: It is no longer enough for brands to fulfill just one step in the customers’ journey. Today, customers want their brands to anticipate their needs. They should partner with a relationship commerce provider that will allow them to add those capabilities to their portal seamlessly and manage them.
Complementary services: The needs of the customers continuously vary by B2B vertical. Sometimes, the unique needs of a particular niche can make it difficult for them to find service providers that understand their business needs. To address this situation, brands should opt for referral partnerships.
Building and maintaining partnerships
After deciding what kinds of partnerships a brand wants to build and deciding specifically what companies they want to partner with, brands should self-evaluate and identify a list of ways that their company can offer prospective partners.
To build successful partnerships, brands shouldn’t just build value for their partners and customers in the near term, but develop the ability to evolve over time, creating value over time. And to create long-term benefits, brands should define roles, have clear communication and the willingness and ability of both partners to keep up with their customers’ needs and change to meet them.