B2B business is big and getting bigger; it’s booming.

Your B2B business might be booming to the point that it is becoming unmanageable. Alternatively, you might be at the start of your B2B business idea, wanting to get a grip on things early on. You came to the right place. The following guide has everything you need.

This guide answers the B2B questions that matter - ‘What is B2B?’, ‘What is B2B CRM?’, ‘What makes a good B2B CRM?’, ‘What can B2B CRM do?’, and ‘What B2B CRM systems are there?’. It covers everything, really.

Without further ado, let’s get growing!

What is B2B?

B2B is the exchange of goods, services, and information from one business to another. I’d like to point out how different from B2C it is, which is the exchange of goods and services between businesses and customers. Despite being brothers, separated by just one letter, you’d be surprised to find out how different B2B and B2C are. B2B and B2C businesses hold different priorities.

B2C vs B2B

In terms of CRM, the most notable difference between B2B and B2C is the length of the sales cycle.

B2B vendors are much more likely to develop and maintain personal relationships, in the hope of securing a long-term partnership whether it’s using software as a service or purchasing raw materials in bulk. It makes sense for businesses to negotiate with each other in this way, saving time and effort going into the future for the benefit of both parties.

When you think about it, customer relationship management is perfect for B2B.

B2B CRM stands for Business to Business Customer Relationship Management, and refers to systems, technologies, strategies, and processes that help B2B companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers. In late 2019, the B2B eCommerce market topped a whopping $5.7 trillion. That’s a lot of money and that’s a lot of business; B2B CRM organises it. As the B2B market evolves, staying updated with the latest B2B eCommerce trends can provide valuable insights into the changing landscape and help you adapt your strategies accordingly.

So… what makes a good B2B CRM?

Blatant differences in the sales processes of B2B and B2C businesses mean that there should be some, maybe subtle, differences in the tool they use to manage their customer relationships. B2C CRM technologies tend to have a focus on marketing, since eCommerce is pretty much self-service; they also tend to focus on the maintenance of millions of accounts at once. B2B CRMs are sales-driven.

With the individual characteristics of B2B in mind, a good B2B CRM should be...

  • Focussed on data.

B2B CRM should have a superior depth of profile - hundreds, even thousands of potential fields of information. Similarly, you’re likely to deal with different users from the same organisation, so must be built around accounts rather than people. Eventually, your team better understands accounts, developing a profitable bond with them. Choose CRM with lead generation and enrichment features.

  • Clearly based around your sales pipeline.

A B2B CRM needs to visualise, optimise, and scale your company’s sales process. B2B salespeople spend their working days analysing sales pipelines, pleading for leads to move through to the next stage. With a visualised, automated pipeline, salespeople can spend more time building relationships with customers, rather than on data entry and form-filling associated with older CRM systems.

  • Fully automated when it comes to reporting.

Due to the drawn-out nature of B2B sales, customer behaviour becomes more observable and predictable than B2C. This is an advantage for B2B sellers, because they can base the sales process around behaviours and actions that an account shows and takes. Reporting automation surfaces insight into your business and its outreach to know what works and what doesn’t for your customer base.

What can B2B CRM do?

You can run your entire B2B business out of CRM. From lead prospecting and enrichment, through nurturing and engagement; all the way to purchase and post-purchase activities. Many modern CRM systems are actually much more than CRM systems, they’re B2B sales automation platforms.

Let me explain...

B2B CRM can generate high-quality leads.

High quality leads are those who have a higher propensity to convert to purchase. Any B2B business should aim for a lead conversion rate of 5% or above. Never stick leads, willy-nilly into your CRM system; make sure they are qualified to buy first. B2B CRM helps B2B businesses generate high quality leads by providing the features that generate them, like web forms.

A web form is an area of your website where visitors can fill out their own information, send it off to you, and usually get something in return. There are loads of different purposes for web forms that you can put on your website, to tempt passersby to give up their personal data. Look for a CRM which provides lead generation web forms for high-quality leads…

Let’s say… you’re launching a new feature in your CRM system. It’s called Workflows, and it automates annoying, daily processes. You’re hosting a webinar with your gorgeous Customer Success Team to tell excited leads all about your new feature. You’d create a landing page with a webform for visitors to fill in to receive their email invite to the event. Lead generated.

Looking for a B2B CRM with lead generation web forms? Try NetHunt CRM!

NetHunt CRM Functionality

B2B CRM can score and qualify leads.

Lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical value to a lead based on their purchase readiness. Has the lead been exposed to enough of marketing’s nurturing and ready to be offered an invitation to a sales demo? Well, just take a quick look at their lead score, usually from 0 - 100, and decide for yourself. They might have fulfilled the necessary criteria to climb above the relevant number.

Once the lead has passed a certain number, they can be considered as qualified and move along to the next stage of the sales pipeline. By boiling down the lead qualification process to a simple numerical value, lines of communication between marketing and sales are simplified and effectuated. Some CRM systems even automate number assignment based on pre-set behaviours and targets.

Let’s say… you’re selling small business CRM services. You’ve got a library of informational content and plenty of subscribers to email outreach. We consider those subscribers to be at least semi-engaged, and we can give them a decent score based on this. When one of those leads replies to an email, we consider them as really engaged, bump up their score, and move them along the pipeline to the next stage. So, they’ve been qualified by the marketing team for the sales team.

Looking for a CRM with lead scoring? Try Zoho CRM!

Zoho CRM Functionality

B2B CRM can nurture leads through email.

Email lead nurturing establishes a strong relationship between a brand and its consumers. It occurs at each stage of the sales funnel, enriching the buying journey for both sides of a transaction. Email sequence lead nurturing increases email open rates, keeps you fresh in a prospect’s mind, provides instant results for prospects, and opens up an opportunity to inform and entertain leads.

The point is that not everybody who visits your website is likely to be purchase-ready. Give or take, only about 3% of a target market is ready to buy at any given moment. Lead nurturing is all about making sure that the other 97% of your audience gets there in the end through a constant drip, drip, drip of informational, educational, and persuasive email content.

Let’s say… you’ve generated a new lead and you need to welcome them to your subscriber club. Welcome emails are a free hit. Out of all the emails you send to your subscribers, the first one always, always has the best open and click-through-rates. Use CRM marketing technology to make that first email good and entice a recipient to open the next one in the drip campaign. Engage them.

Looking for a CRM with drip campaigns? Try MailChimp CRM Zapier integration!

MailChimp Functionality

B2B CRM can manage your quotes and sales processes.

Some CRM platforms are provided with quote management features, whether they are in-built or need to be integrated. Quote management software allows users to create, send off, and tracks both quotes and invoices. It automates the proposal stage of a B2B business’s pipeline, smoothing down and greasing up what can often be a sticking point for business and customer relationships.

There are different types of quotation management software...

  • CPQ software stands for configure, price, quote. Mainly working as a CRM or ERP integration, CPQ software automatically helps B2B sales teams to quickly and accurately generate tailored quotes for their product or service on a customer-by-customer basis. CPQ software is generally used to develop prices for customisable products with different feature add-ons available.
  • Price optimization software is tilted towards B2C eCommerce businesses. It automates the analysis of pricing analytics, optimisation, and decision. Optimised prices mean your business is making as much money on its product or service as possible based on its competition.
  • Proposal software tends to specialise in the documentation that comes with a sale. As a sales efficiency tool, proposal software helps sales and marketing teams to create, manage, and send proposal documents, such as business proposals, welcome letters, contracts, quotes, and marketing collateral; in a safe, organised and efficient way.
  • QTC software is similar to CPQ software, but goes even further. It manages the negotiation and sale part of the sales pipeline, by generating individual quotes based on a price table, triggering contracts when a quotation has been accepted, and sending an invoice when that contract has been signed. QTC stands for Quote-to-Cash.

Looking for a quotation management CRM? Try Hubspot CRM with Sales Hub!

Hubspot Functionality

B2B CRM manages your post-sale process.

As we’ve established, customer relationships are essential when it comes to B2B business. We’re not talking about one-time transactional relationships, where a business picks up the cash and runs away. We’re talking about real person-to-person, long-term relationships from which we can develop real feedback, up-and-cross selling opportunities, referrals, and establish ourselves as industry leaders.

A good post-sale process involves solid customer support and ticket closure through chatbots, livechat, and any other communication channel. It involves your customer success teams constantly educating their audience about their product; incident management, returns, end-of-life, regular billing, and customer referrals. Basically, it involves a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Our CEO, Andrei Petrik recently had this to say about customer support (CS)...

‘Where a support team responds to one-time questions with one-time solutions, a CS team uses foresight, research, and better communication to stop those problems from ever occurring. In the CRM industry, the more successful our customers are, the more users we gain and the more money we make. Any innovation is based on what our customers need for success. The devs ask the CS team… “what are they asking for?”’

A successful B2B business is dependent on the success of its customers. If customers succeed when using a product or service, they need it, and they continue paying their subscription fee. This results in success for the business providing the product or service, because they make money. A successful CS strategy requires CRM to align teams under an informational umbrella.

B2B CRM surfaces the context and data businesses need to bring success to their customers.

Manage your B2B customer relationships… with B2B customer relationship management.

It makes sense.

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