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Are You A Vendor Or A Partner?

In the B2B world there are two kinds of companies: those who are merely interested in selling to their buyers, and those who genuinely want to be a partner in helping their buyers achieve their goals. The former are always eager to make deals and earn a little cash: they count their success purely in terms of profit and only profit. The later, however, have a wider view of what success looks like. Profit is important - no one gets in to business to go out of business - but there are other metrics they know are important too. These later companies know that success is also forming lasting relationships with loyal clients who stick by their side thick and thin, grow the value of the account over time, and generate new business through referrals and references. 

If you can show your buyers that you care as much about their success as your own, you’ll be showing them that you are only the choice when it comes time for contract renewal.

So how do you show your buyers that you see them as more than just a source of profit?

Are you a vendor or a partner?

Ideation.

To begin with you need to try and insert your company into the idea creation process, and you do this during both the sales process and in post-sale customer success cadence. The goal here is to work with your buyer to put your product at the foundation of their future success. For example, let’s say your product (We’ll call it Logos) collates and analyzes subscription data. An ‘un-ideated’ sales pitch would sell Logos by focusing only on what it can do it terms of metrics and features, but an ideated pitch goes farther. Start pitching your product to the buyer as something they could only do with Logos - it’s not enough to say “only Logos has Cerberus,” you’ve got to be specific. “If you had Logos and Cerberus, you’d be able to put on demonstrations for future clients about your robust security - not just telling them they’ll get great security, but proving it.”

You need to show how your product will improve their core business, beating the competition to better serve their customers. Of course, to do that you’d need to know your buyer - but you were planning on doing that anyways, right?

Personalize Your Sales Pitches.

During the sales process you have to show that both the salesperson and the company on the other side of the table are  more than ‘just another client’ - who they are, as a person and a corporation, matters. That means making connections with them - knowing your buyer, like we stated above - but it’s more than just name-dropping their client list. You need to demonstrate that your buyer is not interchangeable with any other purchaser - make those personal connections that link product, salesperson, and buyer. On the buyer-seller level it is as simple as “I know you work often with NewTech Inc. - they’ve had  privacy breaches in the past, I bet knowing that you’re using Logos now will go a long way to reassuring them that you take their privacy seriously.” If you don’t have access to that level of information, you still have to make that connection more than abstract.

Of course, you’ve got to develop that relationship with the salespeople themselves (always being careful not to get too personal,) - but always guaranteeing your buyer that who they are matter. “We understand your business, and this is where Logos was easily fit-in to your business model.”

Pricing Models Using Client Data.

One size doesn’t fit all. One way to show your client that they ‘stand out from the crowd’ is by personalizing their pricing models. Rather than handing-out the same basic package thy dwells on your website - and telling that client that what works for the masses are good enough enough for them - try tailoring your models to suit who your client is; demonstrate that they’re unique enough to deserve a unique package. Now, obviously this won’t be true for every client  - but the big spenders, the ones with will and desire to sign the sort of contracts that will keep your lights on for years. Those are the ones you make feel special on the pricing sheet - you want something that shows understanding. “You work exclusively with financial institutions - here’s how our Customer Success package for Logos is going to be tailored for the unique financial services you offer.”

Show your clients that you can help them do what they do before they ever sign.

Understand Their Business.

This is worth repeating until we go hoarse: nothing shows how much you care by showing that your company takes the time to understand a client - especially post-sale. Every check-in your customer success team has should show your client that you understand their business more than the last time you called. Too often customer success teams have less knowledge than the sales team did - proving to your client that Sales did all that research merely to get the sale: now that they’re a client, they can be treated as one of a generic pool of clients.

So study your buyer. Know them better than they know themselves. When you do your monthly check-in your CS liaison should be able to say “we see that you’ve been using Logos in your day-to-day - here’s some ideas we’ve had about how you can use it more efficiently.” This ties back, of course, into Ideation - if you understand your buyer, you have solutions they don’t even know they want or need before they ever call a customer success meeting. 

Make It A Movement

If ‘Understand Your Buyer’ is not a sales model that you use, it is time to make it one. Look at your relationships with your buyers - how well do you know them? Do you use that knowledge in your interactions, or is your concern usually focussed on their effects on your balance sheet?

Let me put it another way: are you their vendor, or their partner? Does their success matter to you? Do you show them that what they’re doing - and what they might do - is important to you? Ask yourself what you can do to show your buyers that they matter to you. What kind of changes can you affect to show that their success is your success - that you are not only the sales vendor for a product, but a partner in their future?

What can you do to show that you understand your buyer - and that you understand why that’s so important?

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