Do you sell to other businesses? A B2B (business-to-business) organization typically has fewer customers, those customer needs are dependent on consumer behavior, have a more complicated purchase process, and typically involve negotiations. The buyer's journey can take weeks to months and the conversion depends on negotiation more than promotion. It’s important to understand this journey in order to create relevant content through the right channels.
The business-to-business customer journey can be long and complex and can involve dozens of stakeholders in the decision-making process, with the number of stakeholders increasing to 6.8 today. When you get that many hands in the pot, dysfunction is likely to happen which extends the purchase process. The dangerous risk is that 65% of buyers will walk away due to frustration or inconsistencies.
Traditionally, business purchasers do their research, evaluation specifications, follow a formal purchase process, may have high switching costs, and are most concerned about functionality. Interestingly, in today’s digital environment, more influencers and stakeholders have entered the purchasing process and business buyers have been shaped by the consumer shopping experience and become more consumer-like.
The business buyer today, expects sales reps to
Be extremely knowledgeable about their business
Know about their individual profile background
Facilitate a more fluid buying process
The business buyer is also influenced by process changes such as
Social – there are now influencers in the business sector creating content about the benefits and challenges of products and services or presented at conferences which influencer CEO perceptions
Real-time – business purchasers want real-time digital interactions such as text, chat, bots, and other near-instant interactions combined with tools such as product configurators and price calculators.
Support – participating in conversations with on-the-ground sales teams, distributors, customer service, and technical reps. According to McKinsey's research, the average B2B customer will use
6 different interaction channels throughout their decision process.
Analysis – more data is available than ever. Executives are using that data to evaluate process efficiencies and post-sale service. With the increase in the competitive environment, the traditional 3 bids in the RFP process have doubled and are being broken apart, it’s no longer necessarily one company wins all.
In the past, I’ve discussed creating data-driven personas and utilizing technologies to simplify the process, which applies to the business buyer just as much as the consumer. Analyzing your consumer and industry data and analytics can uncover and guide targeted sales actions. Listening and adapting is the key to longevity, whether you are a B2B, B2C, C2C, or C2B. While times have changed, traditional marketing principles still apply, know your customer, communicate value in order to satisfy their needs and wants. The key is to keep learning, listening, and adapting in order to do so.