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Why connecting with B2B users = capturing more B2B buyers

green forceAs B2B marketers well know, often their buyer is not the end user.

And while B2B marketers can easily communicate with their direct buyers, connecting to end users is more tricky.  In fact, many are lacking good information about exactly who their users are.

That’s because many B2B companies are either…

  • selling to “gatekeeper” departments (purchasing , IT, etc.) who often aren’t actually using the product themselves
  • dealing with distributors/resellers who actively obstruct access to end users for fear of being cut out of the supply chain

This truly limits B2B marketers’ knowledge of user needs and preferences.  As a result, products and services can miss the mark.  This often leads end users to request that buyers “purchase from someone else next time.”

“Someone else,” as in not you.

Investing extra effort and money in understanding your end users pays off in several ways.   Most notably…

  1. Developing market offerings that work for the people who use them — leading to better word-of-mouth and pull demand through the channel.
  2. Sharing your understanding of the end user can become a vehicle to strengthen relationships with your best channel partners.
  3. Understanding the needs and challenges of the user can uncover opportunities you would never find if you only talk to the buyers.

With the increasing adoption of social media in B2B, users have a bigger, more public platform than ever to praise or pan your products and services.  And since we know that B2B buyers extensively use referral and 3rd party opinions to filter suppliers before they ever get in touch with a salesperson, not focusing on the end user can eliminate you from consideration before you ever have a chance to make your case.

Other trends, like BYOD, will only increase the influence end users have on the decisions of B2B buyers.  The time to invest in understanding and relationship building with B2B users is now.

Your knowledge of the end user will help greatly with your buyer.  After all, no purchase decision-maker at a company wants to deal with employees who are unhappy with a decision they made.  And distributors, first and foremost, want to stock things that people are going to buy.

So, when was the last time you really talked to your end users?  If you can’t immediately answer that question, it’s time to start doing things differently.

About the Author

Ed Erickson is the President of Erickson Research, a Chicago market research consulting firm. You can find Ed on LinkedIn and .

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