CRM for B2B is different. A good B2B CRM is built for the sales people first. That’s despite all my strongly held beliefs about alignment. There is simply no point getting marketing and sales aligned around CRM if the sales people won’t use the CRM, so start with a good B2B CRM is going to be designed for sales people first. Frankly the next time I hear somebody say, “B2B and B2C are the same”, I am going to scream. The only people who ever utter such rubbish are consumer marketers who haven’t got deep experience of B2B. I know that there are similarities but they are fundamentally different, and a good B2B CRM therefore, is also fundamentally different.

In this week’s show, we’ve researched 5 really good articles on B2B CRM, we’re going to extract the synthesis out of those, and then we’re going to offer you 10 conclusions about things that you can actually do based on that analysis. Let me jump first to the conclusions of those 10 steps so you can look at the value out in front.

Get marketing, sales and operations together. Turn your strategy inside out – that is build it from the buyers perspective. Detail the journey that each individual buyer is going to take and work out the velocity that you need to meet quota. Now they’re all planning things, so is the next one. Design your ideal process, that is tactics that you’re going to use to move buyers through each of those stages at that velocity. Now we’re getting to the CRM, you can’t touch the CRM until you’ve done that. Add recycling tactics to get your leaked buyers back into your funnel, and that’s where automation’s going to come in and the CRM will play a key role in that. Modify the stages in your CRM to match the buyers journey and teach your sales people what each of those stages mean. Build velocity reports in the CRM to measure actual versus planned progression, build lag and leakage reports, I’ll explain those later and split them by rep or campaign or lead source to gain insights into your funnel effectiveness. Finally, set monthly analysis and review meetings, extracting data from the CRM.

Let’s take a look at the research that we found, 5 great articles, you’re going to enjoy one of them in particular. So our first one is, “A New Dawn for CRM, This time it’s B2B”, by Robert Angel whose the President of the Gilford Group, thank you for the article. I love his conclusions, let me jump to those conclusions. Six principles of understanding customers as individuals, track their behaviour, analyse high value customers, know the value of individual customers, differentiate service, measure results, live your customer brand values every day. So those hold true for B2B as well as B2C. What I’m uncomfortable with in an article that purports to be about B2B is that it really talks of B2B companies as selling through intermediaries, and that’s a very narrow view of B2B, in fact I would argue that they’re not B2B companies.

Quick example, a confectionery manufacturer who sells through retailers is not selling B2B. They’re selling to B2C, that is to consumers, through a company, but they’re primary, hence basis, “How do we make this product attractive for consumers such that retailers want to stock it?” That’s still a B2C play. B2B is making the shelving or the cash register for that same retailer. A manufacturer making a cash register, ultimate consumer of the product is a business, whereas in the confectionery example, the ultimate consumer is a mum and dad and therefore I don’t think that’s B2B at all with the greatest respect. At least that’s my view anyway.

The next one is, “Why is CRM for B2B so important?” By Dominik Konziela, fairly short article, it’s pretty thin, I think it’s been written for a SEO, there’s not a huge amount of content so I’m not going to recommend that you go into this one. Take a look at the third article, “CRM Switch”, really interesting contrast, let me jump to it. Between what is needed for B2C, first is B2B CRM, and I think a valid conclusion, quite enjoyed that conclusion. Therefore, what you need to do, what you need to do with your CRM doesn’t quite go there, but really provides a good framework I think, worth a read.

Next article is by Jeff Solomon, he is the Founder and Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at Leads 360, you would think they would know a bit about this stuff and I think they do. Quite a good article, definitely the one I would recommend reading of all of them if you read only one of them. He offers a good synthesis of B2B versus B2C and in particular highlighting the factors that really matter. The main difference is speed of process, the number of decision makers, simplicity versus complexity in the buying process, the quantity of leads, the role of emotion, the value of the sale and the uniformity of the offer. They are important foundational understandings in the difference between B2B and B2C. He then contrasts two companies, and frankly goes onto some quite useful analysis. Two companies, one is fundamentally B2B, one is fundamentally B2C, and he talks about what they need in this area, mindful of those factors. Really good article and I definitely recommend that you have a read of it.

The final one is from our friends at Marketo, and the reason that I’m giving you this one is that it was shared so often. 350 shares on Facebook, 443 on LinkedIn, 357 on Twitter, none on Pinterest and next to nothing on Google Plus. Apart from the fact that Marketo are doing a really good job with their social strategy, it also suggests generally that you quite enjoyed the article, so why would I not. I tell you why I wouldn’t. It’s a great article, I don’t think you’ve shared it because of its CRM’ness, you’ve shared it because of its content marketing conversation. “Data Talks to Proven Lead Generation Tactics to Jump on Now”, and they are good tactics, it’s all about arguing why content marketing is important, and it is, but frankly how it’s got caught up in a search on B2B CRM I’ve got no idea apart from great search engine optimization from the guys. Not the one I would recommend, go back to Jeff Solomon, that’s the one I am going to recommend that you read.

I referenced quickly in the intro that we did a blog recently for Bullhorn where we were invited to talk about B2B CRM. I’m referring to that one only, because I’m going to draw heavily on this in the conclusions which I’ll get to now.

Certainly the best of the articles explain really clearly the differences between B2B and B2C, and therefore what the CRM needs to look like for B2B versus B2C. You recall from the analysis that I found one of those articles in particular quite useful. I recently did a blog for Bullhorn, they’re a CRM vendor who have a very strong presence in the recruitment industry and it forced me to synthesize, crystallize my own thinking about the steps towards building a great B2B CRM, So I’m going to draw heavily on those today, let me share them with you now.

I argued in that Bullhorn article that B2B CRM is about process tracking as much as it is about automation, not just data management and that requires some strategy and planning, not just good implementation. So my first of these steps are absolutely about getting the thinking right. Get marketing, sales and operations together, that’s critical. Turn your strategy inside out, and by that I mean build the strategy from the buyers perspective. What problem do they have? Who most has that problem and what best solves the problem? That’s a buyer centric strategy rather than, “What are we going to sell to whom?” Detail the buyers journey, that is the journey that each individual buyer will take towards that problem and it’s solution. Work out the velocity, that is how many buyers need to move through their own journey for you to meet quota.

Design your ideal process, and that’s obviously a reflection of tactics, to move buyers through each stage at the agreed velocity. Add recycling tactics, and these are tactics that you are going to use for those buyers who’ve leaked from the funnel, to get them back into the funnel. Now were moving into the implementation of CRM, modify the stages in the CRM, and by the way in your marketing automation as well, to match the buyers journey, as opposed to the sellers process. Teach your sales people what those buyer journey stages mean, build velocity reports to measure the actual velocity compared to what was supposed to occur, the planned progression. Build lag, that is time. “How long does it take to move a buyer through each stage?” And leakage reports which is, “How often do we fail?” Split them by sales person, by campaign, by lead source, to gain insights into the effectiveness of your funnel, and set monthly analysis and review meetings.

Just a real quick feel on bringing those insights in, and this is a quick plug. You may already know about Funnel Plan, the tool that we use for building sales and marketing plans. It’s not been a DIY tool, it’s going to be from 2016 onwards, a DIY tool and we’re really excited about that. One thing that customers have asked us to do is to bring measurement into that, so one thing that we’re doing along these lines, is to bring the CRM measurement into the funnel plan, so you can open up your funnel plan, take a look at what’s supposed to occur and then look at data pulled directly out of the CRM and compared to what is supposed to happen, what’s actually happening. You’ll see some of that come up in Funnel Plan if you’re an existing Funnel Plan user. More coming in later blogs, I’ll share with you how you can get a free copy of Funnel Plan, but we feel that measurement is as important as planning, and so were building the measurement piece into the funnel plan software.

Well that’s it for this week’s blog, I hope you got a lot of value out of it. If you haven’t already, can I invite you to subscribe at or at, your choice. Subscribing means that you’re the first to hear about these blogs as they come out each week. If you have already, thank you, I hope you’re getting value from them and can I ask you to share that with a colleague? You helping us in that way means that we can get the message out to lots more and I’d be really grateful if you would do that by sharing either today’s article or either of those 2 links. Finally, if you’ve done both of those and you’d like us to cover a topic that I haven’t already, let me know, go to [email protected]. Send us an email, tell us the topic that you would like to see covered and I’ll be only too pleased to hear some great suggestions and I’d really love to hear what you’d like to have covered.

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