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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

93% of B2B Customers Read Reviews: Tips for Generating Good Reviews

Soliciting customer reviews is a way for companies to reduce the perceived risk inherent in many B2B purchase decisions. The more critical a purchase and the bigger the purchase, the greater the risk to customers, according to Sam Klaidman of Middlesex Consulting.

Nearly all (93%) B2B customers will read an online review before deciding to do business with a company, reports Caroline Liller. It has to do with risk and purchase complexity.

An appliance store sells the same 21 cubic foot Whirlpool refrigerator to many customers. In contrast, B2B companies often provide customized products and/or intangible services that vary with each customer. This makes it hard for prospects to evaluate providers. Each business customer has a different context and different needs, Klaidman says.

Reviews as a Marketing Tool

Reviews help make your company and your offerings credible, and they can also differentiate you from your competition. Because reviews are often superficial, “A good review often leads to a follow-up reference call to get context from peers,” Klaidman says. Peers can tell you what sort of service customers will receive from the vendor.

How To Generate Reviews and Other Feedback

  • At the end of successful engagements, invite customers to write a review. Do not solicit reviews from family and friends who have not used your products or services.
  • Ask a few specific questions in the invitation to generate more detailed reviews. Customer comments could give you ideas for new or improved products or services.
  • Generate your own reviews. Do not engage a review broker. Some brokers purchase fake reviews from overseas reviewers.
  • Look for a review site for companies in your industry. Liller lists software sites.
  • Verify that reviews are legitimate. Add the phrase “verified review” next to the reviews.
  • Consider sending customers a short survey that includes comment fields. Satisfied customers are often happy to provide feedback.
  • Post reviews and survey results conspicuously on your website. Highlight good quotes from customers.

Negative Reviews

The goal is to avoid reviews of 1 or 2 stars (out of five) more than focusing on 4 or 5 stars (“How Consumers Really Use Online Product Reviews,” Wall Street Journal, 10/26/20). While multiple negative reviews will increase customers’ sense of risk, an occasional negative comment or negative review probably reflects a customer with a unique need or a unique situation. Post how your company addressed the perceived problem, and show that your company stands by its work. While you don’t have to post every review, an occasional negative review may add credibility to your reviews.

B2B Reviews are more critical than ever: Sales conversations now take place remotely and are less personal. A few informative reviews are more effective than many reviews filled with vague adjectives. Above all, though, your primary goal should be to provide outstanding products and services that satisfy your customers.

Actionable Business Insights

Copyright © 11/20 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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