CHANGES IN THE B2B BUYING CYCLE
1. Buyers have changed. And so must you.
After working with hundreds of B2B companies over the last couple of years, we have found that the B2B buying cycle has changed.
And at the heart of the new B2B buying cycle is the buyer, who has evolved to become a digital savvy, master/mistress of the Internet with a strong taste for social media.
Today, thanks to easy access to online content, B2B buyers want to self-serve, self-educate and self-select from the beginning of the buying cycle. They’re more mobile, and heavily influenced by online content. According to a recent study, a massive 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by social media for their B2B purchases.
Calling a sales person for information … nope … not before they’ve nearly made up their minds. Not until they are staring at your “Contact Us” page, questioning … “to buy, or not to buy?”
The following stat will forever haunt you (in a good way.) Buyers can be as much as 90% of the way through the buying process before they reach out to a salesperson. (Source: VentureBeat)
Remind your sales and marketing teams of this. Having them keep this nugget of information top of mind will motivate them to develop strategic marketing and sales solutions to reach the modern B2B buyer.
2. Shift in the balance of power
In the old days – and I say old because it wasn’t so long ago – sales teams were in charge of the B2B buying cycle. A salesperson would sell to other businesses by cold calling, attending tradeshows, networking and maybe going to lunch.
Interested buyers would then call a sales person right away and he or she would provide valuable insights about the company’s product or service and answer any questions. And with a pen and paper in hand, buyers would write down product features, prices, and any other key points – all of which would help them to make their decision.
But there’s been a shift in power – from the seller to the buyer. Today’s digital age has empowered the B2B buyer, who is now able to carry out research independently from the company/business/service. They are no longer reliant on the sales team for information. They can find all they need to know about a product or service from a website, social media, and consumer forums. Today, the seller waits for the buyer to call back.
3. More connected, less engaged
Today, people are very connected. They connect more often and for longer. The paradox of it all is that they are less engaged. So while they are online more often, it’s increasingly harder to reach buyers. #InformationOverload. One of the greatest challenges for B2B sales and marketing teams is to reach the buyers.
So what does this all mean ?
It is important to understand this change to the buyer’s journey, and how your company can develop sales and marketing strategies that fit the needs and most importantly engage the modern B2B buyer.
We are in a new digital age of audiences, influencers, procurement policies, buying teams, committees, social collaboration platforms, and more. B2B decision makers are constantly bombarded with information and options. It is vital that you engage the changing B2B buyer with some basic, yet ever-so effective techniques, such as the ones you’ll find in Trends in B2B Marketing: Part 2.
Here’s a hint: You’ll learn how to guide and educate your prospects through the entire buying process, so effectively that when they are staring at your business card … questioning “to buy or not to buy?” The obvious, no-brainer, they’d-be-foolish-not-to, answer will be … “to buy!”
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