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First Steps toward Client Segmentation in B2B Marketing

You’ve got two customers? They’re the big one and the little one. As soon as you have more than one customer, you’re segmenting your client base. Often we find that our clients, even those with thousands of their own clients, have a segmentation approach that’s not so far removed from that analysis.

Typically the first step in a segmentation approach is firm-centric, not client-centric. Rather than look at clients as individuals, a company will look at how much business they do with them. Perhaps there will be an overlay based on feedback from the sales force about the potential they see in that client - perhaps based on consistent criteria or perhaps just based on gut feel. The client base is segmented based on account size and perceived potential; the largest accounts might get an entirely different sales and service model for an enhanced customer experience.

If a company wants to put the client at the centre, however, a client-centric segmentation approach would be required, which means looking at customers in their own terms, not defined by the business they do with your company. Are they small, or just small to you? Are they oriented to a particular type of product in general, or is that just what they buy from you? Is their business seasonal, or are you a backup supplier for them? If the only information you use to assess clients is your own database and sales force, you will miss opportunities to grow existing clients and acquire new ones.

And then once you’ve moved towards true client-centric segmentation, what happens to the previous segmentation model, the firm-centric, sales-driven model? Well, it can be used for account management purposes. If it has taken root within the sales force, there’s certainly an argument for maintaining it, and incentive models can be adapted to ensure that both farming currently large accounts as well as growing and acquiring others takes place.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you get a client-centric view of your clients, please get in touch.