University of Oulu

How to increase interaction with prospects in professional business to business services

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Author: Lassila, Elina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Pages: 85
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Lassila, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-05-21
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Nätti, Satu
Reviewer: Nätti, Satu
Heikka, Eija-Liisa


As a result of more complex organisational structures, fast-developing technologies and an increase in internationalisation companies are deciding to focus only on their core competencies and, thus, are buying more and more services to gain different field-specific knowledge. These professional services have also gained attention in research, in which interaction is in a crucial role in creating value. However, the research concentrates mainly on how value is created through interaction for existing customers. Therefore, it is important to investigate how interaction can be increased among prospects when selling professional services.

The thesis was commissioned by HR service provider Notarec. The aim of the thesis was to study how interaction can be increased among B2B prospects when buying professional services. The professional services were limited to HR services. The interaction was studied from two aspects: first by defining the pre-purchase customer journeys of B2B prospects and second, to suggest suitable inbound marketing tactics to guide prospects through the stages. The customer journeys were combined based on similarities in buying behaviour to create more general customer profiles for being able to make the inbound marketing suggestions.

Qualitative and abductive research methods were utilised in the thesis. A qualitative research method, semi-structured interview was selected since it allows a more conversation-like interview and posing questions about emerging topics during the interviews. Abductive research strategy was chosen due to the qualitative nature of the research and the thesis started with theoretical pre-knowledge that was utlised in creating the research questions. The criteria for selecting research participants were architecture, engineering, and IT companies that have operations in Oulu area. The CEOs of these companies were selected to be interviewed since it was assumed that they have a strong influence when buying professional services.

The customer journeys were similar between companies of the same industries. The similarities were seen mostly in how companies wanted to be engaged with and what the problems in HR were. It became evident that due to the nature of the business — professional services — only inbound marketing was not enough to meet the needs of prospects in the pre-purchase customer journey stages, and thus, traditional marketing and relationship marketing were added. The emphasis on the first stages of the pre-purchase stages was on inbound marketing, but on the last stages, also on relationship marketing. The most important tactic of inbound marketing was content marketing, and from relationship marketing, social and structural bonds. Therefore, only implementing inbound marketing is not enough for professional service firms, and thus, they must implement also traditional marketing and relationship marketing to get the best results.

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Copyright information: © Elina Lassila, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.