Which is more important for B2B Sales: Customer Service or Price?


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Shem Szot, eCommerce Biz Development & Digital Marketing Manager, HP
Shem Szot, eCommerce Biz Development & Digital Marketing Manager, HP

When I first started selling business-to-business (B2B) services, I really believed all the people who turned me down by saying, “It’s too expensive.” I sweated over whether I was charging too much. When I tried to sell directly online to other businesses, I worried even more about pricing.
In a recent interview, Shem Szot, eCommerce Biz Development & Digital Marketing Manager at HP in Toronto argues that price is actually less important in B2B than in B2C. He believes that because “the sales cycle in B2B starts the second you finish signing the previous contract” customer service and customer experience, both pre- and post sale, are what matter most.

B2B Customer Service Metrics

He mentionned some metrics that help you know if you are executing well on your service promises, including some you may not have thought of, such as:

  • Are we delivering on time?
  • How large are our backlogs?

Dreaded Dashboard Metrics Creep

We discuss the dangers of dashboard metrics creep. If you keep adding metrics every time somebody suggests a new one that might be valuable, you soon end up overwhelmed with too much data.  As Shem put it:

“The 1st challenge is lack of metrics; the next is no time to look at them!” S.Szot

Channel Conflict

Other tips include:

  • The difficult balance for manufacturers who want to sell online but also through channel partners. (I also discussed this issue in the article How To Sell Online Without Upsetting Retail Partners).
  • The fact that B2B sales to small businesses are often much more like B2C sales.
  • How to use a “coaching” approach to win support for the changes the metrics tell you are needed.
  • Taking a Kanban approach to setting priorities. Figure out what’s most important now, and eliminate distractions.

This is a version of an article that first appeared on the Frank Reactions website. To hear the interview with Mary Miller or download a transcript of it, visit http://frankreactions.com/18 or find the Frank Reactions podcast on iTunes or Stitcher

Tema Frank
Tema Frank, Chief Instigator at Frank Reactions, is a pioneer in assessing multi-channel customer experience. She was testing omni-channel customer service with her 1st company, Web Mystery Shoppers, before "omnichannel" was a thing! Hers was one of the world's 1st companies to do real-world testing of online and offline customer service & usability. A best-selling author & highly rated international speaker, she hosts the Frank Reactions podcast, and is the author of the new book PeopleShock: The Path to Profits When Customers Rule. Get the 1st chapter free at http://peopleshock.com .


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