Customers are people: the increasingly blurred line between B2B and B2C customers

In this latest leadership blog, our sales and marketing director Nigel Swift explains why AAH Pharmaceuticals is taking a more personal approach to working with customers. 

An independent pharmacy owner choosing which wholesaler to place an order with is looking for a connection, just as much as a consumer who is deciding which pharmacy to take their prescription to. It’s all about finding a reason to choose one brand over another. People respond to people. They respond to ideas, values, vision and purpose. A connection born out of these factors is ultimately what drives buying behaviour.

Traditionally, in the world of sales and marketing, you’ll hear customer interactions being referred to as B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). This is based on the rationale that organisations will have different relationships with businesses to those that they have with end consumers. This, when you think about it, makes perfect sense. But I suggest there’s an increasingly blurred line between the two. After all, there’s one common trait that intrinsically underpins both customer types – they’re all people.

This is something that has been at the forefront of our minds when defining our AAH Pharmaceuticals proposition. Since we re-launched the brand last year, we’ve been able to take stock, really consider what we want to be famous for and think about how we can add value for our customers. Our AAH offering is for B2B customers, but we’re actually appealing to people rather than organisations.

Buyers are evolving all the time. Thanks to the internet, customers have access to all the information they need to make a purchasing decision before they even start interacting directly with sellers. Moreover, there can be no surprises. Whether you’re selling a loaf of bread or a new IT system, the customer has a set of requirements; so if you don’t have the right service or a suitable product, you’re not going to do business.

Purchasing decisions are driven by two factors: rational and emotional. The rational part is covered by logical elements like cost, return on investment and availability. Therefore, if all products and services are of equal value, what makes the difference? What makes customers want to do business with specific companies and not others? It’s all about making a connection.

Interestingly, in a study carried out by the Corporate Executive Board, emotional connection was found to have twice as much influence on buying behaviour as logic for B2B customers.  It makes sense therefore to work with our AAH customers on a more personal level. It often gets overlooked that B2B customers are people too. These people, motivated by mood, impulse and personal values, are the decision makers. They have the choice to buy or not to buy.

Our wholesale proposition is built around three key promises to customers:  to be reliable, considerate and innovative. It’s not enough to just say it though. In the last few months our AAH team has been recognised and awarded for both innovation and delivering excellence to customers. All of these successes serve as proof points for our key promises.

In May this year, AAH was named as the most highly rated wholesaler by independent pharmacies in a survey carried out by the CIG (Consumer Insights Group).  As well as this, our industry leading delivery vehicle, PharmaVan II won the award for Technical Excellence at the Motor Transport Awards.

By showing that we’re committed to listening to our customers and doing what’s right for them, we can make more powerful connections. Our customers want to know what we stand for and how we operate, but most importantly, why we do what we do.

You may have seen Simon Sinek’s TED talk, in which he says “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” By having a sense of shared vision and shared values, between ourselves and the people and businesses that we work with, we can build stronger, more positive relationships. All of which contributes to the ultimate objective: helping patients to lead more positive lives.