Targeting B2B customers with your DropShipping business
When you’re DropShipping – and especially in an eCommerce business that includes DropShipping as well as stock in your own warehouse, you’re thinking about your customers a lot. You’ll have created target customer profiles, and might even have gone into incredible detail about them – perhaps even to the point of thinking about small details like the type of shampoo or soap they might use. That is really useful information – especially when you’re looking at your social media marketing, and so on. It helps you decide which sales channels to use, the sort of language you use and the tone of your social media posts – which is great. But you might be wondering how you can get more customers.
If you haven’t considered targeting B2B customers, then consider whether there is scope to make sales to other businesses. Although you’ll still need to be competitive (nobody wants to pay over the odds, after all), there are quite a lot of potential advantages available to your business by to selling B2B.
Advantages of selling B2B
There has to be good reasons for setting your sights on working with B2B customers – and since we’re writing a blog post about it, there are clearly a number of excellent reasons to do so. There may be many more good reasons to target B2B customers, depending on the type of products being sold, but these are the overarching reasons.
Convenience for busy businesses
Like B2C customers, B2B customers want convenience when they interact with other businesses. By being able to buy directly from your company through your website, they’ll be able to access your best prices, and by offering your products through other sales channels, they can interact with you wherever it is most convenient for them. Once B2B customers have identified the right product and a business that provides great service – usually through a marketplace such as Amazon – they’re likely to create repeat orders with them.
Of course, all additional customers are beneficial to your DropShipping business. But when you have customers that make regular purchases, you’re as close as possible to being able to guarantee that your business will make better profits. It isn’t only that though – B2B companies may contact you to buy what they need in wholesale quantities, so they don’t need to restock as often, or so that they can get a better price for their own customers.
If your business sells with a mix of stock in your warehouse and DropShipping, then it is probably clear how your business will benefit from this situation. If you’re purely a DropShipping-based business, you might think this isn’t going to be a win for you – but there are opportunities for you too. Being able to buy from your suppliers in bigger quantities is likely to mean you get a better price (and potentially a better profit on the order), will lead to a better working relationship with your supplier, which could lead to you being offered preferential prices in the future.
Massive market potential
If there are a lot of businesses that need the products that you sell, then it is probably already clear as to the sort of number of potential sales that you can make. And of course, people in similar industries often share great places to buy from, so you are likely to see your sales increase as people share your business with each other.
Challenges of selling B2B
With there being so many potential sales to be made by selling B2B, you might be inclined to jump in and start marketing to them immediately. But selling B2B can be a completely different animal to selling B2C – and so you’ll need to be aware of some of these potential issues before you get started with your marketing endeavours.
Strategy and processes can be tricky
Being able to sell to B2B customers takes a lot of dedication. Your marketing efforts will have a completely different strategy (we’ll get to that in a moment) and building relationships with B2B customers that are going to convert to long-term prospects is quite different to getting B2C consumers to become loyal customers.
It isn’t just strategies that need to be different though. When you’re selling a mix of stock in your own warehouse and DropShipped orders, and you’re selling to B2B customers, things can get complicated – especially if you are offering B2B customers different pricing to your B2C customers. They can get even more complex again if you decide to offer different pricing depending on the number of orders your B2B customers have made from you, or in different volumes – and of course, this is going to be essential if your B2B business is going to take off.
Setting up a special area of your website so that B2B customers can access pricing information is a way forward, but that can be complicated and can take additional resources to set up. Having them set up accounts to see different pricing, as well as managing this yourself is a challenge – and is likely to require the services of a developer for your website, if you don’t have those skills yourself. While you’re almost certain to get return on your investment, it is an expense that you’ll need to plan for.
The risk of missing out on B2C customers
Being able to market your business to both B2B and B2C customers is a bit of an art. You need both types of customer to feel confident in their purchase from you, and for B2C customers not to feel that they’re being charged over the odds in comparison with B2B or wholesale customers.
If you’re solely DropShipping, going after B2B customers will need to be done carefully, since there is nothing stopping other businesses from making the same connections that you have. Once they make the connection with your supplier (or another supplier who can provide the items they want and need at a lower price) they won’t need to come through you – and then you’ll be starting from scratch trying to win over new customers again.
You have to stand out
Competition is fierce in eCommerce everywhere – you don’t need us to tell you that. When you’re selling to B2B customers, there is even more competition, since companies can buy from both B2B and B2C businesses. That means that often businesses need to cut prices, or use other strategies to stand out in the market, and ultimately be a success. If you’re aiming to connect with both B2B and B2C customers, then it can be even more of a challenge, with strategies for both types of customers in play simultaneously.
Knowing your B2B customers
Just like when you’re doing your target customer research for your B2C customers, you’ll need to think about a lot of different issues to help you target your B2B marketing efforts. Although there will be other industry-specific considerations to think about, here are some of the things you can think about when you’re creating your B2B target customer profile:
- Which industry are you trying to reach business customers in?
- What are the pain points that your products solve?
- How can you get your message across effectively over your competitors?
- Which member of staff is the ideal person for you to reach in the business you’re targeting?
- Does the person in that role have the ability to sign off on purchases of the products you’re selling? If not, do you need to convince someone in a senior role?
- What does the average sales cycle look like? How many touch points will a B2B buyer have with your business before they make a purchase?
- Does your business need to be considered a thought leader, or an authority in the field by the businesses that you are targeting?
- What can you offer B2B customers that is an improvement on what they already have access to?
It is a lot to think about – but the potential in additional sales is likely to be huge, if you can get it right, so it is well worth the effort.
Strategies to target B2B businesses
Don’t forget that B2B businesses have real people behind them. If you would find being contacted by another business on social media, or by email annoying, or a certain type of video or message irritating, chances are other people will too. Although this can be a hurdle to getting your message across, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a complete block – you just have to tackle your marketing carefully.
Your sales channels
When you’re thinking about selling to B2B customers, you’ll need to consider how they are likely to interact with you. For businesses that are buying supplies for in-house use (such as care homes buying cleaning equipment like mops, or education institutions buying stationery supplies) they have an account that is authorised to buy such items up to a certain quantity on Amazon. That means you need to be available on those marketplaces. That comes with the challenge not only of knowing which are the most appropriate marketplace, but also the fact that there are so many other sellers on those platforms. The race to the lowest price will cut into your margins, and you’ll need to consider how you can encourage custom even if you don’t have the cheapest listing.
But if the businesses you are targeting are going to be buying large quantities of products to sell on, then they are less likely to be buying from marketplaces. They’ll want to buy from your website, and will want to access better prices than you are offering for B2C customers – so if you’re able to accommodate this functionality in your website, then so much the better. But as we mentioned earlier, that will take some time, and budget to implement if you can’t do the work yourself. Not only that, once your website is up and running, you’ll need to get traffic to it – which means working on your SEO, as well as directing potential customers there from your social media. It won’t be a fast process though, and you’ll need to plan for this.
Where B2B businesses know they will need a certain number of items in each month, or quarter, they may find a subscription convenient to ensure that they always have the right stock ready. If you can build the ability for your customers to create a subscription for the items they need regularly into your website, you’ll be able to plan ahead for those orders, and have a better idea of how much money you’ll have coming in.
Your social media
Potential B2B customers aren’t likely to be looking for you on some of the more usual social media channels. LinkedIn is going to be where it is at for most – and that means building a strong business profile, but that isn’t where it should stop.
LinkedIn isn’t the sort of platform that salesy posts works well on – and in fact, you’re likely to be unfollowed pretty quickly if you use that sort of strategy. If you need your business to be considered an authority in the field, then sharing content that your target B2B customer will find useful on LinkedIn is a good place to start.
Once you’ve started to share content and are getting likes and follows, you’ll need to do plenty of research, building connections with individuals that are in positions at companies that you would like to be your customers.
Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only social media channel that will be useful for your business, but once you’re targeting B2B customers as well as B2C, you’ll need to re-examine your social media strategy. You will need to change your content to reflect the fact that you’re targeting different types of customer, and you may need to dedicate some of your social media feeds to one type of customer, so as not to send conflicting messages to your followers on each channel.
Since reaching B2B customers can be a pretty long game to play, implementing a content marketing strategy can be a great way to increase the reach of your business to B2B customers. However, this isn’t a strategy to be taken on lightly – for content marketing to work well, you’ll need to be creating the type of content that is valuable for them, rather than being sales-driven.
When we say valuable – we mean it might not even mention any of your products, but it provides information about how to solve their pain points. For a business selling household cleaning goods, that might include writing blog posts or creating videos about how to clean an oven, or ways to keep a bath sparkling. Over time, these types of content will help increase customer trust, which will encourage them to become repeat customers, and will help to boost the authority of your website.
As we say, it isn’t a fast way (and isn’t cheap either, in terms of time and cost) to get your customers to convert, but if you’re working for success, it can help to build the type of long term, successful and sustainable business relationships that you want to cultivate.
Selling to B2B customers won’t work for every business. But it is a strategy that can work well for those with the right kind of products, and can help to boost sales. If you have built a great retail business that includes DropShipping and are looking for more sales (and who isn’t?!) then carefully targeting B2B customers can be a great way to increase your sales and profits. B2B customers need to be handled differently from before they enter your sales funnel, right through until they have completed their purchase for the first time, and then as you encourage them post-sale to become repeat customers. for each stage of the B2B customer journey with your business will maximise the chance of repeat customers – which, as you will no doubt have been told many times, costs much less than acquiring new customers.