As SME owners or start-ups when we are talking about how we are going to grow the business we often use the terms customer acquisition and sales interchangeably.
However, while both are needed for your business, the two are in fact very different. To succeed in B2B, your focus needs to be on customer acquisition.
Customer acquisition is “The Long Game”
When you focus on customer acquisition, it is about identifying the right kinds of business customers for your SME or start-up that will create the greatest value for your company over time.
The ability for your B2B SME or start-up to grow and scale requires that you are able to identify the right customers that you are able to promote, sell and deliver to repeatedly.
Sales are without a doubt vital for the existence of a business. The revenues generated from sales keep the business in operation. However, strong sales figures do not necessarily reflect neither the health nor the future viability and sustainability of the business.
Sales can be generated and pushed through by:
- heavy discounting,
- selling products that are not best suited to the client or customer
- using various marketing hacks and tactics
B2B Customer Acquisition: What SMEs and Start-Ups must do!
In order to acquire the right kinds of business customers for your business to achieve sustainable, profitable growth requires you to do 3 things:
“LISTEN”, “LISTEN”, “LISTEN”!!!
The ability of your SME or start-up to acquire the business customers you seek, will be contingent on it being able to effectively “listen” on 3 levels:
- Listening to the market: i.e. Have an in-depth understanding of the trends, characteristics and developments of your target industries and geographic markets
- Listening to Business Customers: Understanding the needs, priorities, problems and challenges of both the customers (i.e. organisations) and the buyers within them
- Listening to “You”: Understanding your company’s vision, purpose and key strengths
By listening on all 3 levels, you will know where are the strong growth opportunities are as well as which industries, markets and companies to focus on.
Understand 3 Key Metrics
As your SME or start-up undertakes its customer acquisition efforts, you should be sure to monitor 3 key metrics:
a. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
A simple calculation:
However, total costs can include:
- Advertising costs
- Salaries-for Marketing and Sales staff
- Cost of Online tools
- Hosting/Attending Events
Be granular and specific as possible as it will enable you to get a more accurate measure of the return of your marketing activities.
This is very important and highly valuable when you need to gain buy-in and approval from your senior management or finance for your marketing spend.
b. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
CLV is the revenue you get from a customer over their lifetime of interacting with your business.
Your aim is to get the CLV as high as possible.
c. CAC Payback Period
This is the number of months it takes to earn back the money invested into customer acquisition.
Your aim is to keep this timeframe as short as possible!
Focus on buyer-centric activities
Concentrate your efforts on the marketing strategies that make your business buyers buy!
You have a number of strategies and channels that you can use
|Content Marketing||Online Ads|
|Email Marketing||Traditional Advertising|
|SEO||Social Media Platforms|
|Influencer Marketing||Industry / Professional Associations|
|Retargeting||In-person Events |
(eg Workshops, Demonstrations,
Speaking at conferences
Focus your investment and efforts on the strategies and channels based on:
- Who Your Buyers Are
- How They Buy
Some B2B Customer Acquisition Tips:
- Deliver a positive “DUAL” B2B Customer Experience –meet the needs of both buyers and uses
- Track and measure your customer acquisition activities—Focus on the ones that give the greatest impact
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About Michael Haynes
B2B Customer & Marketing Strategy Consultant
For over 20 years, Michael has worked with micro-businesses to large corporates alike across Australia and Canada, developing and implementing business growth strategies and programs.