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If there’s something that really irks B2B buyers, it isn’t a vendor’s lack of understanding of the company, its needs, or even its industry. After all, those things can be learned or explained in the course of a discussion. But one thing needs to happen first: vendors have to listen, according to the second installment of Merkle’s 2017 B2B loyalty research [download page].

The survey asked 200 B2B buyers in North America and Europe to choose from a list their greatest challenges during the process of searching for, identifying and considering which business products and services to buy.

By far the most common complaint – cited by more than twice as many respondents as the next-largest challenge – related to vendors being unwilling to listen.

Specifically, about two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they’re challenged by vendors and sales reps who are more interested in selling their products and services than listening to the buyer’s needs.

By comparison, far fewer pointed to vendors and sales reps not understanding the buyer’s needs (31%), company (30%), company sector (29%) or industry (25%).

To be clear, those are also frustrations for buyers: past research has found vendors’ lack of knowledge to be a key frustration.

Yet the aggravation with inattentive sales reps reflects a fundamental issue that buyers have long complained about: vendors being company-first rather than customer-centric. In fact, data contained in our B2B Digital Marketing Insights Report from 2015 found B2B marketers admitting that more of their content is about the company than the customer.

Dedicated Support Fuels Loyalty

Separate results contained in the survey indicate that, aside from financial perks, B2B customers want help running their businesses.

Both North American and European respondents to the survey pointed to dedicated support as the most important incentive available to them once they’ve joined a B2B loyalty program.

And while North American buyers were far more likely than their European counterparts to say that strategy and consulting services are of importance, both see the value of industry knowledge in helping them along.

Reliability is another critical factor: once they’ve established a relationship with a vendor or joined its loyalty program, B2B buyers first and foremost want that vendor to be dependable.

About the Data: The data is based on a Merkle survey of 200 B2B buyers – 100 in in the UK and 100 in North America.

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