B2B's Missing Piece: Customer Needs

How top B2B marketers use customer needs to grow.


You will learn to:

  • Choose the right customers to target & attract

  • Start relevant top of funnel digital conversations that stick

  • Improve lower funnel sales conversations


In my experience, B2B marketers generally have great customer insights and targeting ability, but they are lousy at executing against those insights. Let change that!


First... Create a solid Ideal Customer Profile


Your business can choose exactly who it wants to do business with. If you choose wisely, based on an understanding of their needs, you'll win customers. Businesses with a strong Ideal Customer Profile have a 68% higher win rate than those without them. Choose poorly, based on poor internal hunches and you could be wasting effort.


The key is to develop a list of ideal customers with common business challenges you can solve. An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is simply a list of characteristics that make up your ideal customer. Your ideal customer is very specific to the situation you’re trying to solve for, your goals, and your capabilities. Yor example, you can have different ICPs for different industries.


Apple is known for its incredible B2C marketing campaigns, but we bet you didn’t know they also have four main B2B ICPs: education, government, SME, and enterprise. Each of these verticals speaks a different language and requires a different approach.

To start, make a list of the very best clients you have ever had (or want to have). Collect historical performance data from the CMS, CRM, marketing automation, and web analytics systems in order to better understand successful outcomes and the factors that lead to sales and long-term value (LTV).


Interview your leadership, marketing, and sales teams to get their opinions and insights into which customers have been the most successful using your product or service and which customers are the most profitable and provide the most LTV. The end result is an agreed upon set of criteria that defines your ICP and prioritizes customers based on their potential.


One key questions to consider is the mindset of the prospect. When sales speak to your best prospects, where are they in the process? The goal is to reverse engineer Ready/Willing/Able sales conversation.

Ready

Willing

Able

They understand the problem

They want a solution

They are the right people to talk to

Here are good examples of inputs used to create an ICP.

CATEGORY

CHARACTERISTICS

​Target Market

B2B; sells to enterprise-sized customers; sells across specific industries and sales territories; marketing/sales departments

Marketing Strategy

ABM; targeted paid media campaigns to A+B accounts; demand-gen inbound campaigns to A+B accounts

​Annual Revenue Size

$50 million to $2 billion

​Geography

CA, Las Vegas, Phoenix, NE

​Verticals

B2B IT/tech, B2B SaaS, B2B manufacturing, B2B tech targeting healthcare, B2B fintech

​Attributes

Uses Salesforce or another CRM platform; early adopter of ABM

Routes to Market

Mostly direct but some accounts will have partnership or reseller opportunities

Marketing Ecosystem

Mostly enterprise (long sales cycle, lead based) but in some cases, especially SaaS, transactional as well


Next... build your Target Account List (TAL)


Think wedding seating chart. How will you group guests with common interests? Who gets preferential treatment? What is the experience like? Only relevant, top-tier accounts that match your ICP are invited.

TAL development builds your ultimate guest list.

Once the Ideal Customer Profile is finalized, the resulting data points are used to filter your total market down to the initial Target Account List. Do this for each industry you serve!


Now you're thinking yeah, but where do you get leads? That's the best part. Instead of wasting money on spray and pray marketing to everybody. Once you know who you want to do business with, you invest in building out that list. Lot's of ways to do this with Linkedin. list purchases and ABM platform marketing (services offered by Gangbustrs).


Your first stop is likely the company database that’s being used as the initial data set for the TAL. Analyze the database to ensure that it contains all the potential accounts that are relevant to the ICP. If there are high-value accounts that are excluded – add them!


Once you have your Target Account List, layer on the technographic and firmographic data points from the ICP, any other relevant third-party data points, and intent data. Refine the list to be as congruent to the ICP definitions as possible.


Now you just need to add more color and texture. If your TAL will gain value from further refinement based on third-party data from companies like Crunchbase, Bombora, or SpyFu, apply those filters. Sometimes you’ll need to export the initial list from the ABM platform and use it as an input to various stand-alone tools and technologies. That output is then used to re-prioritize or eliminate companies from consideration.


Now that you have a clean Target Account List, it's time to understand their needs and make them the hero


Congratulations on your juicy Target Account List. Now comes the hard part: Listening and thinking about their world. Their world is hard. Anyone who has ever tried to get approval to buy a new software knows that it’s a complete nightmare.

No matter what you’re selling, job #1 is to make it as easy as possible for your buyer. Your product is not nearly as important as your problem-solving ability.

You have to understand what they want from you and position yourself to be the answer to their needs. Who are they as people? What’s going on in their world? And how can you be way more helpful than you are now?


People are mostly interested in themselves. You can brag all you want about the big logos on your roster or spend big bucks on primetime ads, it helps, but if you’re not speaking directly to your TAL’s needs and fears, you won’t get anywhere.

Buyer personas are like the dating profiles of your customers.

Instead of old school personas, think about creating a story with your personas as heros. Here is the framework we use to do that with clients. It's easy... and way more fun.


Turn your buyers into heroes by reflecting their world back to them. Stories allow you to hold up a magic mirror that shows them a better future.


Stories are the way humans communicate complex ideas easily. Whether you are running full-funnel marketing campaigns, launching a new product or struggling to create internal alignment, this story framework will help you communicate anything to anyone more clearly.

STEP 1

Define your heros. All buyers are Heroes. It's about them, not you.


The heroes of marketing are the audience. Your first job is to define their unmet needs and pain points, and discover what they value most. Ask:


Who are your buyers?

What are their unmet needs?

What do they value most?

Can only you give it to them?

What makes them special to you?


STEP 2

Figure out what’s happening in their world? What do they need?

Forget about your solution for a moment, focus on the world of your BEST prospect. Describe the needs of these buyers.


Are they even aware they have a need?

Is anything in their way?

What is happening in their industry?

What emotion are they feeling?

What are they trying to achieve in their career?

What is the purchase process like?



STEP 3

Demonstrate why you are a guide worth following.


This is the first moment of truth. You need to provide serious education (or entertainment) value get attention. They quickly make the connection to how your brand solves customer needs, "Why you? Why now?"


What’s your plan to improve life for the hero?

How does your brand behave?

What core values are on display?

If the brand were a person, who would it be?

How does your brand directly solve customer’s needs?

What emotion do you bring to their life?


STEP 4

Tell them exactly will you help them avoid pitfalls and find a new level of professional success


By marrying what your audience really wants with what you can offer, you not only help them solve a business problem, you also create new business and professional opportunities for success. Tell the world!



At the end of the day, it's about them, not you. It was never about you. It's always, always, always about the new abilities that you give buyers. That is why you exist.

Final thought...


Business buyers are busy, so save them time.


Business buyers are career-minded so help them look good.


And business buyers spend their time online. So if choose your target list wisely and then create online content that helps buyers save time and look good, chances are, you'll find more buyer ready to talk. And those conversations will by way more profitable.


Sign up for the next articles in this series on how to structure campaigns and content for scalability and personalization. How top B2B marketers use customer needs to grow.