7 Ways to Better Understand Buyers & Customers in B2B Product Management

Knowing both your customers and your buyers is critical to finding problems worth solving and developing solutions worth building.

Navigating the B2B product management world has its differences from B2C. On the one hand, it’s nice that buying decisions are much more ‘economic’ in nature (does this save me time or make me money?). But, on the other hand, your users often aren’t making the buying decisions, so you have to serve both the user and the buyer when building your products.

Let’s look at 6 practical approaches to help you overcome this challenge throughout the product development lifecycle and build strong connections with both buyers and customers. And remember to iterate on your feedback collection process just like you do with your product — learn from past mistakes, adapt, and strive for continuous improvement.

1. Collaborate With Sales & Customer Success

Start by working closely with your sales and customer success teams. Offer your expert product knowledge to explain features and answer questions. While you’re there, see how buyers think & speak during calls and even gather indirect customer feedback. This approach will strengthen relationships with both customers and your internal colleagues.

2. Join Customer Success Meetings

Participate in customer success meetings and allocate a little time at the end of each session to gather product insights. Most of the meeting will help you see into the customer’s world, even if you only ask a few quick questions. Product analytics can help you identify customer types to get in front of and questions to ask. Then, come in with questions to ask that will help you better understand their problems (both the ones you’re helping solve and those you aren’t) and how your solutions serve their business needs.

3. Immerse Yourself in Your Customers’ World

To better understand your customers, immerse yourself in their online communities. Join LinkedIn groups and Slack channels, and connect with individuals on LinkedIn who fit your buyer persona. Observe their discussions and posts to uncover their concerns, preferences, and communication styles.

4. Leverage Micro-Surveys for Highly-Targeted Answers

Micro-surveys are an effective way to collect specific feedback on your product or customer problems. Tools like AppCues and WalkMe can help you create and deploy these concise surveys, allowing you to gather valuable input from buyers and end-users without overwhelming them with lengthy questionnaires or hoping to click a link in an email they might not even be reading.

5. Partner with Marketing & Sales Teams

Forge strong relationships with your sales and marketing colleagues to gain access to buyers. Collaborate with them to organize joint events or webinars on topics that interest your target audience. Effective teamwork leads to better insights and stronger relationships with stakeholders.

6. Offer Value to Buyers

When seeking feedback from buyers, provide something valuable in return for their time. For many user research budgets, a gift card for their time isn’t going to be either amusingly low or require you to have a tiny pool of participants. A CMO probably isn’t going to get on a 30-minute call for a $25 or even $50 Amazon voucher. So instead, think about other ways to provide value. For example, share industry insights (like the results of your study), compare their approach with competitors or offer peer networking through working groups or customer boards (more below).

Bonus: Many times, the same amount donated to a charity of their choice will have a much higher perceived value than giving it to them personally.

7. Create Customer Boards and Working Groups

Establish a customer board or working group composed of representatives from your customer base. These groups can provide valuable input on your product and its problem areas while fostering a sense of collaboration among customers.