Highly effective B2B customer segmentation goes beyond buyer personas and firmographics. By using today’s intelligent value selling tools, successful marketers are realizing profound, actionable insights to more fully inform their segmentation initiatives.
Customer segmentation is the act of grouping customers that need and value an offering’s benefits similarly. Getting customer segmentation right is critical in any marketing plan and requires that marketers fully understand their customers’ needs. Relying on buyer personas and firmographics often leads to wasted resources and sales revenue shortfalls, just the opposite of what marketers are trying to achieve.
Limitations of Buyer Personas and Firmographics
Let’s illustrate this point using a simple B2C example about buying soap. Consumers with the same demographic attributes may have different reasons (e.g., fragrance, sensitive skin, organic and price) when deciding which soap to purchase, beyond cleanliness.
Similarly in B2B, decision makers may share the same buyer persona and firmographics but may have different needs that differentiate them as buyers and result in different purchase decisions. For example, sales operations leaders that look the same from the outside may have two diverse needs (increase new sales and reduce customer churn) in evaluating a CRM platform.
Assuming the different needs are evenly split within the identified buyer universe, marketers that treat both buyers the same will waste one-half of their content messaging and campaign resources by not addressing one-half of their buyers’ needs.
So, while buyer personas and firmographics are useful and value selling tools can be leveraged to collect that data, the ability to identify customer needs drives the most meaningful customer segmentation.
Uncovering Customer Needs
Identifying customer motivation is integral to developing nonpareil customer segments. Pain points, success factors, use cases, preferred value adds – these are among the fundamental needs that truly divide customers into segments.
Here is a B2B example that shows two different customer segments for the same networking solution:
While these two customer segments may have the same or overlapping attributes with respect to buyer personas and firmographics, it’s clear that they vary dramatically in their needs. Accomplished marketers understand these distinctions and will align their content strategies and marketing campaigns accordingly.
How Value Selling Tools Help
Obtaining data around customer needs can be challenging and expensive, often requiring varying degrees of research engagement to connect with and talk to customers. Value selling tools, in addition to all their other benefits, can supplement or replace these expensive research projects much more cost effectively.
Custom web analytics built into assessment tools and value calculators capture and report every interaction made by a tool user. Beyond standard buyer persona and firmographic data, custom web analytics collect anonymous data about each user’s unique scenario, such as:
- How many database administrators are on staff?
- How much is spent on third-party services?
- How much time is spent by finance employees on inefficient processes?
Value selling tools can also capture which solution benefits receive the most attention and which solution bundles are favored. All this data allows marketers to build more relevant value propositions for each customer segment and more readily achieve their marketing goals.
Exceptional customer segmentation requires identifying customers by their needs, not just their personas and firmographics. Value selling tools seamlessly capture customer pain points and the size of their problems.
This becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, enabling marketers to do more with less by putting the right content and tools into the right channels and in front of the right audiences.