If the pandemic was an earthquake felt by distributors across the globe, then we are now experiencing the aftershocks, especially in the realm of B2B customer engagement. Customers are becoming increasingly distracted with the bombardment of concerns surrounding issues such as supply chain uncertainty, labor shortages and determining pricing strategies amid inflation. These distractions make it difficult for distributors to find effective marketing methods and tools to help them cut through the noise and reach their customers.
This was the topic of discussion in a recent podcast between MDM CEO Tom Gale and Monique Elliott, SVP of global marketing and industrial automation at Schneider Electric. Elliott has 22 years of B2B marketing experience with primarily multinational industrial manufacturers. Together, the two of them discussed the strategies that distributors can adopt to create the most effective customer experience, as well as how to assist their teams in the midst of the transition.
According to Elliott, the center of crafting an effective customer experience that stands out among the distractions is to “go beyond the buy”. This mission involves marketing to the customer in a method that encourages them to engage in return.
“It’s important to elevate that value proposition beyond the features and the functionalities of the products,” said Elliott. Instead, she claimed the value proposition should be “centered around your commitment and the promise that you’re going to help your customer deliver on the challenges that they have.” This focus helps cut through the distractions of the pandemic’s aftershocks.
Compared to B2C, Elliott pointed out that in B2B sales, “You can create a digital experience that goes beyond just buying that product, and engage with other partners around the development of a big project.”
For customers who interact with distributors digitally, Elliott said that search tools can be utilized to help create a lasting relationship with a customer. “You might have customers that are searching around for the position statements. What is this company known for? Where can I engage with them, now that we’re coming back to physical events, or on online experiences?” These are the questions that help a customer identify with a distributor, and encourages them to “go beyond the buy”.
Elliott also discussed the internal challenges that digital transitions like this can bring, and encouraged teams to ensure that they always involve team members across departments, not just in IT. “People are at the heart of all of this,” she noted. “So whether it’s your employees, your customers or your suppliers, they need to be part of that journey as well.” She exemplified that in her own role at Schneider, their digital transition period “Wasn’t a project that we were starting, but a product that we were going to deliver to our customers. And that means it’s going to have a lifecycle to it, it’s going to have an ongoing budgetary need and there’s going to be teams that are built around it.” With the whole team involved, there is less ambiguity and more excitement surrounding the transition.
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