Whitepaper 1.0: B2B Buyer Challenges
The B2B customer base has drastically changed in terms of generation and with this it brings drastic changes to the way customers interact with a business. We are going to delve into the various ways B2B customer interactions have changed.
Longer sales cycle
With highly technological products or services, the sales cycle can be incredibly complicated and lengthy.
A recent study conducted by Gartner stated that 77% of B2B buyers said their last purchase was very complex and on average included around 6 to 10 decision-makers.
Emerging technology is a high-cost asset for any business and vendor decisions will not be taken lightly, some decisions can even take years. Therefore, B2B technology companies’ sales and marketing strategies need to be more long term and orientated around creating relationships with customers rather than a transactional process. The client needs to feel like they trust both the company and product before they move forward with the purchase.
B2B vs B2C
McKinsey & Company recently conducted a research project understanding the differentiation between B2B and B2C companies and their progress towards digitalisation. The research found that many B2B companies are behind B2Cs in utilising digital tools and data and only 10% see digital as one of their top three investment priorities. They have equated this lag to four dimensions; strategy attention deficit, legacy structures, skills deficit and culture.
One of the most applicable dimensions to the technology industry is the legacy structures. Most B2B players haven’t taken concrete steps to mobilise their organisation around digital tools. B2B technology companies need to demonstrate the costs of having an outdated structure and how digitalisation is key to staying ahead of the game and remaining competitive in their market.
If this highly saturated market wasn’t difficult enough, 64% of B2B company executives have noticed significant changes in their markets and customers, especially in terms of purchasing behaviour. This can be partly down to the demographic shift in decision makers. Millennials are now the predominant decision maker in the majority of businesses, taking over from Generation X. A recent study conducted by Merit stated that 73% of 20-35 year old’s are now involved in product purchasing decisions and this figure is expected to grow in the coming years. With this shift in demographics there has been a simultaneous change in the purchasing process. Previously, Generation X decision makers would use sales executives as their first point of call, yet for Millennials, the website is their first interaction with potential vendors. Forrester showed that 68% of B2B customers preferred to conduct research independently online before contacting a sales representative.
This can be challenging for B2B companies as potential clients will already have a wealth of information and will have formed an opinion on the company beforehand. To manage this, B2B companies need quality onsite content that is readily available. This directs customers research to information provided by the company and allows companies to have more control over their opinion. A company needs to present both trust and credibility in each piece of content. It is important for a business to provide information that highlights the value of their products, which can derive in multiple forms, however case studies are extremely valuable.
The saying ‘make a good first impression’ still applies, only now it’s the website making the impression.
The B2B Buyer Journey
The B2B buyer journey is not a linear one and involves a lot of looping to complete the necessary jobs before finalising a purchase. An illustration designed by Gartner demonstrates just how complex the buyer journey is. A company must be prepared to meet all of their customers’ demands. Buyers will value suppliers that make it easier for them to navigate this process. In fact, Gartner research found that suppliers were three times more likely to buy if their supplier provided information that they perceived as helpful in their decision making.
When considering a marketing campaign, B2B tech companies need to consider how they’ll consistently provide informative content that explains their offering in a way that orientates around their customers pain points.