Armed with the knowledge that many buyers are willing and able to switch materials and suppliers, chemical companies can consider the following actions:
Double down on differentiation
Sellers can differentiate product and service offerings to more closely match customer applications and adjust their pricing and service models to incentivize loyalty and long-term relationships. They can also:
- Develop a better understanding of customer preferences and provide differentiated products and services that really matter to customers—making it harder for them to leave.
- Invest in identifying those customers that are most likely to leave, making a concentrated effort to meet their needs while simply continuing current practices with those that are not deemed to be at risk.
Protect the base
Sellers can strengthen their efforts to reach the customer’s customer to create more pull and lock-in for their products. They can also:
- Take a data-driven, fact-based approach to truly understand what customers value, and then tailor their offerings and interactions accordingly.
- Consider investing in competitive intelligence about supply/demand, pricing and potential competing materials.
- Monitor the customer’s production processes and technologies to see where increased competition from other materials is likely to emerge.
Play offense, as well as defense
Sellers can connect with buyers that are potentially “on the move” in the market by identifying the main underserved needs in their customer industries and make meeting those needs the center of customer-acquisition campaigns. They can also:
- Keep a sharp eye out for competitors’ customers that may be open to changing suppliers by using analytics to identify behaviors that signal an intent to switch.
- Establish mechanisms across sales and customer service that make it possible to quickly act on opportunities to win over new buyers.
Virtually all (99 percent) chemical sellers in the survey believe that customer centricity is important, and many think they are doing a good job—with 61 percent giving themselves a ranking of 8 on a 10-point scale. But that confidence may be misplaced, as the research shows a number of significant gaps in sellers’ understanding of buyers’ needs. Those blind spots are likely to mean that customer needs are not being fully met. And in an industry where customers are quite willing and able to switch suppliers and materials, companies will need to move fast to remedy that situation and build even higher levels of customer centricity.