B2B Marketing in 2015: It’s Not All about Customer Experience

In B2B marketing, there’s no scarcity of brand messages from vendors to dealers. Increasingly, those messages now tend to market how the vendor’s products and services help dealers create a better customer experience, rather than focus on the products or services themselves. But is that a good thing? Certainly dealers now recognize that customer experience is the battleground of today and will increasingly become more important. But, at the end of the day, the features that ultimately sell dealers aren’t how your solution helps their customers, but rather, how it helps them.


Let me explain:


Dealerships are businesses and the idea that customer experience will be the differentiator is accurate and important. However, what ultimately matters is the bottom line. Some dealers are content to invest in a service knowing that the financial benefits from that service could take some time to materialize – such as customer loyalty and retention. Others, however, simply cannot afford to shell out money on a monthly basis without seeing an immediate return on their investment. Dealers don’t buy leads because they think they’ll sell a car to someone in 3 months. They buy leads because they want to sell those customers cars NOW. They invest in products and services that solve THEIR problems, not necessarily their customer’s problems.


While there are certainly products and services that overlap that area between solving a dealership’s problem as well as a customer’s, typically the products and services aren’t designed to work that way. The typical solution is designed to solve a dealership’s problem and, as a side effect, enhance the customer experience. Yet, many vendors focus solely on how their service will enhance the experience for the customer.


In the past, it was the exact opposite. Marketing focused on ROI and solving problems. The foundation of closing any sale with a dealer was based on the correct answer to the question, “will your service help me sell more cars?” If you could do that satisfactorily, chances are good the dealer would sign up with you.


Nothing in sales today has changed. Dealers still want the answer to that question. Sure, if the sole purpose of your product or service is to enhance the customer experience, then by all means create a compelling message designed to convince a dealer that by doing so they will sell (or service) more cars. Ultimately, however, dealers still care how it will help increase revenue for their dealership. Bombarding dealers with a single message can result in your message being ignored.


It’s OK to brag. There is nothing wrong with telling the world how great you are. Include marketing messages that show dealers how your product or service will sell more cars or increase service business. Customer loyalty and retention are extremely important. But, it is important to be able to first and foremost illustrate to dealers how your service is going to help them NOW, in order to win that business. We all know that the auto industry is a business of immediacy. No dealer in the universe is going to tell a customer to go home and think about it before doing everything in their power to earn that sale at that moment.


Take a page from sales 101 and include messages of solutions for pain points and ROI in addition to your messages of customer experience. You may well find that dealers will be more receptive to your message and, perhaps, easier to close.

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