B2B buying has been the cornerstone of human civilization since the days of barter between traders. B2B buying behaviors, however have seen drastic changes over the years and are severely impacting the way marketers influence customers.
1. Selling more of the same thing will only lead to reduced margins and more negotiation pressure under the threat of customer loss. This is a fundamental reality that is hitting every established B2B industry. Plus it is exceedingly difficult to negotiate through business down-turn-forecasts.
2. The role of intermediaries or solution integrators evolves into customer-problem solving than executing for pin-to-pin alternative OEMs for cost optimization. Intermediaries will no longer be sought after because of their servicing relationships with multiple vendors and pricing advantages. As more companies become CX oriented it becomes tougher for intermediaries to create differentiation points based on servicing levels for their customers.
3. Competitive positioning is no longer 1:1 with obfuscation of complex capabilities in multiple forms. Companies have learnt how to smartly stay out of the standard competitive grid if anyone sets about making one. Whether it is through slicing and dicing their portfolios in different or in a more drastic fashion, create services models out of products, companies have learnt the art of value-communication through unconventional value-creation for customers.
4. B2B decision making has evolved from <2-3 people in the organization to at least 7-8 people in the organization. There is a lot more peer-consulting and word of mouth involved in selecting the right vendors. The number of “invisible” stakeholders in companies have increased manifold and it is simply not possible to map out all stakeholders for a need.
5. B2B researchers are digital natives and their number is only increasing. 73% worldwide are between 20-35 year olds according to a survey of millennial buyers by Merit. There is a strong preference for consuming short bursts of information mostly in visual formats – and led by social media and a neater website presence (https://madewithmerit.com/reports/Millennial_B2B-Report-Merit.pdf)
6. Vendors will be forced to spend a lot more time and bandwidth on the functional aspect of their websites and engage potential customers, the same way they’d look at re-training and adding sales force. Websites are turning out to be the key differentiators between companies nowadays – the most customer friendly the site, the more the responses generated.
7. Vendor hosting and meetings are no longer exploratory in nature, but are pre-researched intent-led meetings. Items like company reputation, product research and reviews of successes and failures are now prepared areas of discussion with pointed questions and statement of opinions
8. Traditional Why-to-Buy/Partner criterion is changing to include a set of weird new ones some of which could be very confusing to traditional account management professionals. Criterion like
a. How new is your brand in the market
b. How breakthrough is your technology – and what are influencers talking about it
c. How “cool” will I look internally if I recommend your product/services offerings internally within my team and to my superiors.
This post has been written by our Guest Author Sriram Gopalaswamy (Head of Marketing, Lenovo) for Relatas.com (Sales AI). If you wish to share your Sales Stories with others, please write to us for access: firstname.lastname@example.org
Relatas is the Sales AI platform that successful B2B sales teams use for Accurate Sales Forecasting using Relationship Intelligence and AI. Relatas helps Sales Professionals sell better and faster, with NO-DATA-ENTRY & helping Sales Managers reduce revenue loss and better sales forecasting.