Local, Expansion Issues
In addition to the nine tips on maximizing your B-to-B customers, here are a couple of others.
10. Start locally.
A good way to get started building your B-to-B list is to place personal calls to local businesses. Show them your line, offer them your catalog and a few samples. For example, if you’re a food-gift cataloger, bring a couple of your best-selling products and a good-looking gift sampler to leave behind. Remember the importance of presentation!
Listen more than you talk. You’ll learn about their needs, such as timing, volume, price points and the (ease of the) ordering process. Some companies start their internal-giving process six months ahead of time. Find out what’s important to them and what’s not.
After you’ve closed the sale, keep in contact with each customer during the process to ensure all is going smoothly. You can adjust processes if needed as you go along. Then contact them again to hear their post-delivery feedback.
Just as with any new program, this takes a lot of work up front. But learning from your new B-to-B customers on an up-close and personal basis will help you craft a great B-to-B program that speaks to their needs and has big expansion potential, too.
11. And when it’s time to expand …
Starting locally allows you to build a database of B-to-B customers who are likely to have other characteristics in common. This way, you can model your B-to-B housefile to help find new business prospects that are a good fit for you.
When you’re ready, talk to the co-op databases about modeling. MeritDirect, Abacus and Experian’s Z24 all offer B-to-B models. An SIC provider can analyze the right company size and SICs to target. — SJM