How the B2B Buying Process is Changing
There are some key differences between B2B and B2C buying processes. The millennial generation, for example, actively avoids sales in the early stages of the buying process. Indeed, about 60% of millennial buyers do not engage with sales representatives until they are midway through the purchase process. The millennial mindset emphasizes the importance of building trust with a brand by getting to know the people behind it. They also seek alignment between companies. Ideally, the B2B buying process should be easy to navigate and seamless from start to finish.
Buyers expect a B2C-like customer experience
When buying B2B products, many B2B buyers want the same personal interactions as consumers. They also want a seamless customer experience across multiple devices and multiple channels. It’s important to recognize that the B2B purchase process is far more complex than that of a consumer, but there are a few B2C-style trends that can help you meet these expectations.
The first step is to create a digital experience that helps B2B buyers make a purchasing decision. According to research, 87% of B2B buyers would pay a premium for a supplier that offers an excellent eCommerce portal. Meanwhile, if a supplier’s digital channel does not meet their expectations, 90% of them would turn to a competitor. This means that B2B companies must embrace change to meet buyer expectations and stay competitive. To ensure that this transformation is successful, B2B companies must be proactive and listen to their buyers’ pain points. For example, 48% of buyers said their top pain point was not being able to find up-to-date information about products and services. Another major pain point was not being able to easily integrate their supplier’s technology.
In addition to providing a tailored customer experience, B2B buyers want a positive buying experience. They also want a business that aligns with their values and proves to be trustworthy. In other words, B2B buyers want a B2C-like experience.
The latest research shows that younger B2B buyers are more likely to expect a B2C-like experience. While older business buyers are more likely to expect a more traditional experience, millennials are more likely to switch vendors if the buying experience doesn’t match their expectations. They also are increasingly likely to spend more to improve their experience. As a result, B2B marketers should focus on improving their customer experience and improving the quality of their products/services.
Moreover, a good customer experience starts with employees. Providing them with efficient tools and processes will naturally translate into improved customer service. It will also benefit employers to collect feedback from their team members. This will help them foster good company culture and retain happy employees.
They expect ease of engagement with suppliers on multiple channels
In a time when millennials are leading the charge in B2B buying, ease of engagement with suppliers across multiple channels is imperative for the success of businesses. A recent survey shows that 73% of millennials have input into company purchasing decisions and 34% act as decision-makers. According to the study, buyers aren’t looking to be sold to – they want to make informed decisions. In the digital age, buyers are increasingly on their mobile devices and expect a seamless, streamlined experience.
B2B buyers expect suppliers to be able to provide all of the information they need to make an informed decision. This requires offering multiple channels and adapting their offerings as the needs of the business change. While this seems like the right way to go, the study also found that this approach results in an 18% decrease in the ease of purchasing. More information makes things harder for buyers.
As a result, customers aren’t moving through neat funnels anymore. Instead, they are engaging on their terms. By using conversational sales platforms, companies can engage website visitors in real-time, which can result in an acceleration of sales cycles. Using this method of engagement can help companies increase their pipelines by 62%.
While B2B buyers are using more channels than ever, B2B suppliers must adopt an omnichannel strategy. This new paradigm shift isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s one that many peers are already using successfully.
In addition to ease of engagement, B2B buyers expect suppliers to make their transactions easier. They expect information that is relevant and helps them make a decision. A customer who finds information helpful and informative is three times more likely to make a larger purchase than a buyer who does not feel that suppliers provide helpful information.
They are embracing cognitive biases
Cognitive biases are mental processes that guide our buying decisions. Specifically, they influence our decision to buy a particular product or service. Using them to your advantage will increase your conversion rates, boost sales, improve the user experience, and ensure happy customers. Moreover, if you use these biases properly, they will help you close more deals.
Cognitive biases are based on our human tendencies. They are often driven by emotion, even if they are making rational decisions. A simple example of a cognitive bias is the tendency to favor low-ambiguity solutions. For example, people in a restaurant will pay more for Pembrokeshire potatoes than for a cheaper variety.
The subconscious mind influences 95% of our decision-making. This means that B2B customers and prospects are heavily influenced by unconscious biases. This is where cognitive marketing comes in. Cognitive marketing involves using emotional triggers to evoke specific responses in B2B buyers.
The idea that humans are emotionless is often a popular theme in sci-fi movies. Yet this idea is not accurate. The best B2B marketers know their customers best and know the entire buyer journey inside and out. Cognitive marketing takes this concept to a whole new level. It combines psychology and behavioral economics to understand how people make decisions.
B2B buyers are consuming more information than ever before. During the buying process, they spend 5-6 percent of their time talking with sales representatives. This means that sellers are now losing a lot of opportunities to influence their buyers’ decisions. Furthermore, they’re spending less time on face-to-face communication with suppliers, and more time researching the products and services on their own.
They want more information from vendors
In a recent study, a third of B2B buyers reported that they were more likely to seek out vendor resources than to contact a sales representative. Specifically, 81% of buyers wanted to find pricing information without having to sift through a vendor’s slide deck or book a phone call. 54% of buyers said that they looked for pricing information during their initial research process and 16% would cross out a vendor if they didn’t find it.
While B2B buyers don’t have time to stay on top of industry advancements, they rely on vendors to be fully immersed in the industry. Whether it’s new technologies, solutions, or innovations, they want to know more about the vendors’ offerings so they can make informed decisions about their businesses.
In addition to the desire to find out more about a vendor’s offerings, B2B buyers are also increasingly using social media to do their research. Nearly half of respondents said that they use LinkedIn and blogs to learn about vendor solutions. Besides reading existing discussions, they also engage with other users and thought leaders on these platforms.
As a result, they prefer vendors that allow them to be more transparent. Using data and statistics to educate the customer is essential for B2B marketers, but emotions still drive B2B buyers. If you can woo them with both data and emotion, you will have a chance of winning their business.
Developing a comprehensive content strategy for B2B content is a key step in creating a positive brand experience. Your content should be tailored to different types of buyers and sales cycles. It should address their needs and concerns instead of promoting your products. Also, make sure your content is not too sales-y – millennials, for example, may prefer videos to white papers.