hallway meeting
PHOTO: Charles Forerunner

Does your company still make you carry a massive PC-based laptop long banned by the American Chiropractic Association while your kid runs around with an iPad mini in her backpack?

It's often noted that B2C companies are way ahead of their B2B peers when it comes to customer experience (CX). The massive trend called “consumerization of IT” is a case in point: users have enjoyed great UX in their B2C personal life and are now demanding the same in their B2B work life. But why is that? Are B2B CX practitioners less smart or hard working than their B2C counterparts?

I doubt it. More likely, it's because their job is much harder. Why is that?

Customer Success Is Booming

B2B CX practitioners don’t deal with a single person. Instead, they're dealing with multiple people, with different roles, different goals and different views, and all of those people have to agree when it comes to selecting a vendor.

To make matters worse, different people within the selling organization are in charge of the relationship with different people in the buying organization: product and customer support interface with users, marketing and sales reps interface with buyers, account receivables interface with account payables, etc.

Customer success as a B2B discipline is booming. According to a LinkedIn report, Customer Success Manager was the fourth fastest growing position in the US in 2017, with 5.6 times more jobs year over year.

But customer success only addresses one piece of the B2B customer experience puzzle: users. What about buyers?

Related Article: The Dirty Secret of the SaaS World: Customer Churn

Where Buyer Enablement Fits in Customer Experience

This is where buyer enablement (BE) comes in. Buyer enablement is to the buying process what customer success is to the usage process. Hence it targets buyers where CS targets users. Yet it’s a key part of the overall customer experience. (I suspect it was not called buyer success to avoid confusion with the Black Friday feeling of achievement when we get this giant flatscreen TV for a price our wives will hardly believe.)

Where CS is mostly focused on facilitating product adoption, BE is mostly focused on facilitating the buyer journey.

In the world of SaaS, the Pope of Buyer Enablement (although he doesn’t use the term) is venture capitalist David Skok. Ten years ago, he wrote a watershed article, “Building the Machine,” where he encouraged SaaS leaders to follow nine steps:

  1. Identify your buyers.
  2. Diagram their buying processes.
  3. Add to this diagram the steps you will take to address their buying process.
  4. Diagram the actions you will take to move prospects through the process.
  5. Examine the linkages between actions to make sure the next steps are obvious.
  6. Define the qualification criteria.
  7. Examine the customer motivations for each action.
  8. Define the organizational resources responsible for each step.
  9. Define the technology/software that you will use to automate the process.

These very actionable steps will provide improvements to all organizations.

Related Article: How the Power of Simple Helps to Navigate the Buyer Journey

Who Should Lead Buyer Enablement?

Of course, this raises the question: who in the organization should be in charge of this?

Unlike customer success, buyer enablement has not created a new profession — at least not yet. Rather, it is embedded in the work of marketers, sales executives and account managers. Hence it is a shared responsibility. In many companies, this shared responsibility is coordinated by a relatively new department: Revenues Operations, which combines Sales Ops, Marketing Ops and CS Ops.

Marketing Ops brings a focus on detailed analytics, looking at conversion rates throughout the funnel, a critical part of buyer enablement. Sales Ops brings a focus on sales enablement, which can be easily adapted into buyer enablement. Hence the combination of the two functions can do wonders.

Just like customer success, buyer enablement is supported by a new generation of tools: comparison matrices, chatbots, self-service scheduling, and many more yet to be invented. The great thing about these tools is that they directly affect revenues, hence the ROI is very easy to justify.

So a message to all B2B companies and CX practitioners within: now that you have customer success programs and resources to help your users adopt, don’t forget to help your buyers convert!