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CRM - it's not just about B2C!

2nd May 2007
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By Neil Davey, editor

When it comes to customer relationship management, the business-to-business (B2B) world has good reason to feel hard done by. It is easy to forget that CRM is a concept with its roots in the B2B sector when it is often so poorly served with relationship techniques and examples. And with B2C ‘customer champions’ stealing the limelight, B2B CRM success stories rarely get a look in – indeed, outside of Dell, how many other B2B firms attract similar praise as their B2C contemporaries? As such, you can appreciate why the business-to-business field could feel somewhat short changed by customer relationship management.

Nevertheless, despite this imbalance, there is just as much benefit from customer relationship management for the B2B firm as there is for the B2C business. There are of course, some significant differences between the two. B2Cs may serve millions of customers whilst B2Bs often have only a few large customers. B2Bs also often have smaller product ranges than their B2C peers, and the purchases are less frequent but higher value. Yet despite these discrepancies, most of the principles that have proven such a success in business-to-consumer can also be applied with equal achievement in business-to-business – as well as providing the same ROI.

Elements of customer relationship management may take unique forms in B2B industries – there is ‘dealer management’ for automotive companies for instance, or ‘trade promotions management’ for consumer products firms – but the overriding concepts are still the same: understand your customers, form a strategy and then set in place the people, processes and technologies to enable that. High-level CRM may have emerged out of industries such as telcos and banking, but B2B has been catching up – and learning from the mistakes of B2C sectors too.

As such, we’re giving credit where credit’s due this month and dedicating May to a focus on B2B client management. We’ll be examining the rise and rise of key account management as a best practice in the business-to-business field. We will also study the phenomenon of partner relationship management and its influence on operations. And B2B analytics will also come under the microscope – how the sector has traditionally dragged its feet in terms of customer analysis compared to B2C, but is now waking up to its benefits.

But first of all we bring you two studies of customer relationship management in the business-to-business arena. Jennifer Kirkby provides a strategic overview of the topic and Stuart Lauchlan examines the technology issues surrounding B2B CRM, from databases to websites to IT deployments. And don’t forget that you can find a number of related stories from the library that are recommended reading on the banner to the left.

This month's stories:

Key account management

Key account management: unlocking customer potential

The life and times of key account managers

"What is KAM? And why should I care?!"

B2B analytics

Search marketing euphoria

Customer profiling in B2B

Customer analytics: the devil is in the detail

Partner relationship management

Can PRM power B2B connectivity?

Partners need managing too: PRM in action

The dark side of partner networks

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