The orchestration of all aspects of B2B marketing is significantly more complex and challenging as well, a point shown in the discussions. The researchers did find enough causality to create a model of value-driven marketing, and it does show that only through a continual focus and auditing of customer needs will B2B marketing reach the levels of performance in B2C markets (Leek, Christodoulides, 2012). There are also many limitations of this study, including the lack of an empirically sounds research methodology, more effective sampling frame, and the inclusion of more diverse respondents to better represent the markets of interest. The model has also created a model of causality based on limited data and the transformation of brand value to relationships strength, initially proven with the sample, is tenuous when evaluated from the context of am empirical study. Due to these factors the research needs to be considered anecdotal at best, and an interesting data point in an overall view of this area of brand value transitioning to relationship strength.
Assessment of the Study, Does Salesperson's Customer Orientation Create Value in B2B relationships? Empirical Evidence from India
The nature of customer selling in B2B relationships has often been analyzed empirically from the standpoint of how effective tools, techniques and strategies are. Little research has been done on how the extent of a sales person's customer-centricity and relationship skills impact customer trust (Singh, Koshy, 2011). Intuitively this seems obvious yet the current body of research hasn't defined, In India, the extent to which a salesperson's customer orientation leads value creation is often exacerbated by the cultural dimensions that lead to high levels of collectivism and risk aversion. This can slow down innovation in B2B markets if relied on alone as the basis of customer relationships. The study shows how sales professionals with strong customer orientations can create more effective, trusting relationships with B2B customers over the long-term.
The methodology for this study includes 249 small and medium-sized Indian firms that engage in a variety of banking and financial services, in addition to consumer electronics retailing and distribution. The entire study was completed in Ahmedabad, India using a convenience sampling technique across local businesses chosen randomly.
The demographics of respondents are evenly distributed across the age groups of 17 to 65 years of age, with the median age being 30.43 years (Singh, Koshy, 2011). A total of 91.5% of the sample were male, with the majority of companies represented being in consumer and high tech electronics retailing. A small percentage of the overall sample was from the banking and financial services industry.
The study's findings indicate that in Indian small and medium businesses, the greater the sales person's customer orientation the higher the level of value creation attained (Singh, Koshy, 2011). The researchers use several scenarios to underscore this finding, showing how effective the use of kept commitments and confidences create an effective foundation of trust between B2B sales people and their customers. The reliance on B2B sales people for the latest product information and how to sell against competitors also is instrumental in strengthening trust over time as well (Singh, Koshy, 2011). These findings also indicate how critically important it is for a salesperson in this Indian city to think of time not just as a limited resource but as an asset to be invested in relationships (Singh, Koshy, 2011). This orientation on value over just thinking about transactions has been found in many other comparable studies, and is supported by this study as well. The limitations of this study are its lack of research design specifically aligned to the needs of businesses throughout the region, as it is just focused on Ahmedabad, India. This study also fails to take into account the women business owners in the area as it is highly skewed toward male respondents (91.5%) of the sample. Finally the study lacks a clear set of prioritized actions and recommendations for businesses to achieve a greater customer-centric mindset. It assumes that this quality is either present or it isn't and doesn't actually provide any guidance of how to develop it.
The progression of B2B marketing away from the abstract and clinical to a more relationship-based mindset is rapidly changing how businesses purchase from each other. The series of four studies shown in this analysis have evaluated several different facets of how B2B marketing and selling is changing to embrace a more trust-based approach to developing and continually improving customer relationships., The fact that non-utilitarian approaches are being replaced with more personal and focused communication and selling strategies to make trust an effective catalyst (Bellizzi, 2009) is reflected in every study included in this analysis.
Where these studies vary is how they manage the continuum of trust with key customers and the strategies they rely on for keeping connected with customers over the long-term. From the reliance on more relevant, strategic content as shown by studies of non-utilitarian approaches (Bellizzi, 2009) to the approach of using brand value as a means to create a greater emotional connection with customers (Leek, Christodoulides, 2012) the studies range in the versatility of approaches and frameworks to accomplish a common overall goal. That goal or vision is the attainment and continual improvement of trust. In conclusion, while each of the four studies have taken a different path to the goal of creating and sustaining trust with customers, they each have a unique framework and methodology for defining how B2B marketers and salespeople can attain this challenging goal over the long-term.
The following are the recommendations that emerge from this analysis:
The greater the use of consistent, highly emotionally-defined branding and intensive use of symbolism to connect with customers, the higher the probability of success with B2B marketing initiative (Bellizzi, 2009).
Sales people selling in B2B environments need to be coached to not immediately push for a transaction to close but rather listen and seek to become a trusted advisor. The greater the ability of a salesperson to earn trust through authenticity and transparency, the higher the probability of long-term sales (Chang, Wang, Chih, Tsai, 2012).
Studies showing the interaction of the functional and emotional components of branding indicate that when sales takes on a given problem for a customer and seeks to "own" it for them, trust is earned in addition to significantly higher long-term sales (Leek, Christodoulides, 2012). Enterprise sales teams need to be trained to manage this aspect of development of relationships with greater focus, getting beyond just the selling aspects of their professions and seeking to be a trusted advisor as well.
The customer centricity and willingness of a salesperson selling to small and medium businesses to share product and market information, and seek to assist them with their own selling is a strong catalyst of long-term trust. Customer centricity of B2B selling professionals in India can create long-term value (Singh, Koshy, 2011).
B2B marketing and selling has traditionally been very long-term in focus, highly regimented and controlled by the flow of information between buyers and sellers. It has also has lost much of what made B2C marketing so effectively, and that was the voice of the customer and their specific needs and preferences.
The past of B2B marketing and selling is quickly being replaced with a very focused present and future in this area, centered on building trust and shared information across entire value chains. The greater the focus of B2B markets and sellers on these dimensions the more effective and profitable they will be today. This shift in orientation towards the emotional elements of branding continue to change every aspect of B2B selling today, making it imperative the sales professional become a trusted advisor to their clients first.
Bellizzi, J. (2009). Using non-utilitarian factors to encourage business-to-business purchases. Journal of Global Business Issues, 3(1), 121-127.
Chang, S., Wang, K., Chih, W., & Tsai, W. (2012). Building customer commitment in business-to-business markets. Industrial Marketing Management, 41(6), 940.
Leek, S., & Christodoulides, G. (2012). A framework of brand value in B2B markets: The contributing role of functional and emotional components. Industrial Marketing Management, 41(1), 106.
Singh, R., & Koshy, A. (2011). Does salesperson's customer orientation create…