Winning strategies for the B2B market

Economy September 03, 2012 00:00

By Pichaya Changsorn
The Nation

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Leading executives and marketers from Kasikornbank, Fujitsu Systems Business, IBM, Advanced Info Service, CP All, OneRoof and Pfizer shared some thoughts about how to win in the business-to-business market at the OmegaWorldClass Research Institute's "B2


Chutima Mokkhasmit, first vice president of Kasikornbank, said marketers had to understand their clients’ needs and purchasing decisions. And this should not be confined to their direct needs. At KBank, she said addressing clients’ indirect needs sometimes needed “heart bonding” rather than trying to push sales hard.

“Knowing that 77 per cent of our customers are family-owned businesses, we have realised that family succession is their current concern. Hence we have initiated a professional-family business-management programme for them, bringing parents and their children to attend the course together. Our customers have realised that we understand them and go further than just bringing them goods to sell,” she said.

Chutima suggested that companies develop “customer attrition alert tools to prevent a loss of key customers. Many firms, nevertheless, will monitor only some basic figures such as sales revenues, which are lagging indicators, but forget to keep track of leading indicators such as customer complaints.

“To get these customers back isn’t easy, since they have lost their good feelings [about the firm]. This is because most customers leave as a result of emotional factors. It is necessary to find [lead-indicator attrition] alert tools and then communicate [the findings] to sales teams for investigation regularly,” she said.

“Big organisations often feel they’re already doing well. But with this system, there will no longer have this ‘already doing well’ attitude, as everyone can be challenged at any given time that he or she can do things better.”

Sales staff, however, might feel as though they are being checked out, and thus communication techniques are crucial. KBank, for instance, uses different charts for presentation to its management and front-line staff.

“Both must feel the heat. But the messages need to be different, since each of them will interpret the messages differently,” she said.

Kittipong Wichaidit, marketing director of Fujitsu Systems Business (Thailand), said that from his experience, successful marketing campaigns often started from good planning processes that recognised good databases.

“But the true goal is to build a list of buyers, not to build a huge list of prospects. Marketers sometimes spare a lot of resources only to find prospective customers,” he said.

Companies can use many methods to identify such prospects, including studying past sales successes, filtered through key criteria or characteristics, as well as input from their own staff such as salespeople and customer-service personnel, he said.

Fujitsu, for example, learned about a competitor’s problems from visiting its clients, and then proactively launched a product-replacement campaign to offer an alternative to this group of customers.

“Usually, we will only know later?? Know what?? when customers act against their old suppliers,” he said.

Kittipong said Fujitsu had not yet utilised social media for marketing purposes because as a company with presence in more than 100 countries, if there is a misstep, there could be ripple impacts affecting its businesses worldwide.

“Social media are a trend. But you have to decide if your organisation is ready – don’t jump into social media because everyone else is doing it,” he said.

On-uma Rerkpattanapipat, country manager for marketing and communications at IBM Thailand, said that in B2B markets, the first thing that sold was corporate character or reputation. Marketers should not just “capture” the market but “make the market”.

“Steve Jobs [the late founder of Apple Computer] did not believe in customer insights or market research. This is because we must tell customers what they need. The B2B marketing approach is not just about chasing existing demand but also about making the market. This can be started by ‘making a belief’,” she said.

After a change in the information-technology market (a Forrester study has found that 65 per cent of IT buyers are no longer involved with IT departments), IBM has shifted its focus to business customers such as credit departments and marketing and customer-relations management executives. To reach these “new buyers”, the company has developed a toolkit called “C-Suite Connection”. It also set up the IBM Institute for Business Value to provide “thought leadership” and practical insights for business executives.

Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, vice president for corporate marketing and solutions management at Advanced Info Service, said a study had found that integrating social media to e-mails helped increase the click-through rate by more than 55 per cent. This is especially true for business users, most of whom (75 per cent in the United States) read their e-mails through mobile devices.

“And it is thought to help draw responses faster than when no social-media link is attached to the e-mail, because the recipients can share it further, and people in the social media are usually friends who share the same interest or work in the same profession,” he said.

Somyot Viriyathanrangkurn, CP All’s general manager for international business networking, said his division, formerly known as the business innovations division, was set up from an “out of the box” approach to grow business sustainably.

Among the unit’s brainchildren is the business model for its Kudson bakery and coffee shops and the exclusive data-mining know-how provided by German firm Otto, which did not sell the technology to any other firm in the world, but to CP All, Somyot said.

Jintana Lertlumying, managing director of OneRoof, said the practitioners of customer-relations management must have a business-owner mindset and follow the “4 Ps”. These are precision targeting (know who the targets are and what they want by data management), performance marketing (optimise investments against a precision target to yield successful outcomes), partnerships with the right people, and platform measurement (connect people in the short term and develop long-term relationships that turn buyers into advocates by using trace-and-track business-intelligence tools).

Songwut Sakchalathorn, managing director of Pfizer Animal Health Thailand, said using relationships to win sales and businesses had become outdated, since companies nowadays have many rules and regulations to control the relationships between their staff and suppliers. Nevertheless, in Asia, it remains important that businesses strive to “win the hearts” of their customers, sometimes through providing activities that are not concerned with selling products but to aid customers in the areas where they need help., such as offering an entrepreneurial ship course, assisting them to conduct a 6-sigma or an human resource assessment project. ?? jargon