B2B (Business to Business) companies don't communicate with their target audience in the same way as B2C (Business to Consumer) companies.
B2B companies speak to professionals with specific problems and restrictions linked to their core business. These professionals have very precise expectations and want to access detailed product information before buying. When they have access to high quality information, they are three times more likely1 to buy a product.
For B2B companies, ensuring the quality of this information can be complex. The technicity of products and the volume of data involved (variations, customization options, technical features…) make managing their product information complicated.
This is why many B2B companies are turning towards PIM (Product Information Management) software.
The specifics of B2B companies
Extensive volumes of data
B2B companies manage vast catalogs containing numerous products with different levels of information. To persuade a professional customer to buy their product, they need to provide a range of product information (attributes, features, options…) and especially technical information.
As an example, in the construction industry, when a professional buyer is researching ceiling tiles, they need to access detailed and comprehensive content to allow them to find out more about the product: technical specifications, brochures, assembly videos, installation guides…
They must also be able to ensure that the product fully fits their needs and to access detailed product information: physical features (sizes, colors, edgings, frames…) and technical features (fire resistance, damp resistance, CE markings…), maintenance, implementation… Visual content can clarify some of these details and improve the customer's understanding of the product: product dimensions table, tile explanation diagram, acoustic absorption coefficients graph…
For B2B companies this involves managing a large volume of product data. To save time in their everyday management of this information they often use several different software applications which are managed independently: ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), eCommerce platforms… These processes slow down the teams (extraction, manual adaptations, revising…) and are sources of errors in the product information they publish.
Constraints relating to regulations
In a B2B context, products often need to comply with several different regulations (ISO standards, labels, certifications…) and these restrictions change from one country to another.
For example, in France, manufacturers of construction materials must comply with the European fire safety standard « NF EN 13 501-1 ». According to this standard, manufacturers must use the « Euroclasses » ranking system to assess each product and attribute a specific class (coded from A to F, with E being highly flammable materials and F indicating materials which are non-ranked and/or non-tested). Each country has its own testing methods and standards to assess the fire resistance of their materials.
In a sales context, this information is required by professional buyers as it indicates the product's fire resistance and reassures them.
For B2B companies, this requires that they provide information on the conformity of their product to the applicable standards and that they adapt this information for each country. Depending on the legal context (new standards, laws and/or regulations), this information needs to be updated regularly.
The need for personalization
B2B sales teams have customer companies with a variety of profiles, and they use several different channels to reach them (phone calls, websites, trade fairs…).
To persuade their prospects to buy, they must tweak their message and their sales pitches to ensure they are consistent with the professional universe of the customer company: technical terms, key notions/concepts, tone used… These efforts are essential and enable a B2B company to show that they fully understand their customers' professional issues and constraints.
This involves systematically adapting the sales pitch to each different customer segment and customizing information according to their needs. This personalization is vital with 80% of B2B companies2 noticing an increase in sales after beginning to customize their information.
PIM and B2B: rise to the challenges around product information
PIM (Product Information Management) software solutions provide the answers to the problems of B2B companies: tedious product data management, complexity of the product offer, volume of information…
PIM greatly improves the team's productivity. PIM's connectors allow it to integrate with the third-party applications (ERP, CRM, eCommerce platforms) of the company's Information System (IS) and to centralize all the associated product information and data. Through a centralized database, the information is adapted to local norms without re-inputting the data. A workflow engine also enables each contributor, according to their user rights, to enhance the quality of product information: enrich, correct, update, validate...
For sales teams, PIM is a formidable ally to the sales strategy enabling you to ensure that your product data is systematically adapted to each target. This means that customer companies receive information adapted to their profile and relevant to their industry issues.
To sum up, you don't speak in the same way to a professional customer as you would to an end user. They have specific needs and to respond to them you need to provide comprehensive and accurate product data. PIM (Product Information Management) software allows you to manage a large volume of information and a complex data structure. PIM's advanced features enable B2B companies to provide their customer companies with a relevant and customized product experience. If you want PIM to be a real ally for your strategy, you need to ensure it has the right features.