B2B buyers are B2C consumers in their spare time; they expect the same treatment

Traditional business to business (B2B) interactions between both buyers and sellers are changing. We are witnessing a move away from group-based purchasing decisions to an environment in which staff make decisions independently. Up until recently, purchasers would spend face to face time or time on the telephone speaking to their suppliers before coming to a final purchasing decision. Conversely, suppliers would know their products well and know how to sell them to their client and prospect base.

Gartner identifies that the landscape has changed over the past few years [1]. Purchasing teams now spend more time searching online for the product or solution they need and work individually at their desk or on the go on mobile devices. Whilst this may have streamlined and improved the process for the purchaser, it has made life rather more challenging for the supplier. B2B purchasing behaviour now mirrors that of the business to consumer (B2C) sales cycle, with buyers behaving in similar ways whether at work or at home.

Anyone needs to be aware, both as a B2B buyer and a B2C buyer that business behaviours have changed as a result of the online market. Consumers now expect understanding, a personalised service and consistency and whilst this may have always been the case, increasing access to online purchasing and eCommerce has fuelled ever-higher expectations.

It is not all bad for suppliers however, as digital shopping has also produced a phenomenon known as ‘digital overload’, where consumers feel overwhelmed by choice. This presents an opportunity for B2B suppliers who should aim to offer clarity and expertise in their field as a way of making the process easier for their customers to understand.

According to a survey by business2community.com [2], after surveying over 1000 consumers between the ages of 17 to 69, they found that more than half had stopped using a particular shopping site because they found it too difficult to navigate and choose a product. 42% of them said that they had abandoned their shopping activity because the choice was too overwhelming.

It is apparent, therefore, that B2B suppliers should move away from product-based selling to individual selling if they are to fulfil their client’s expectations. B2B marketers should remember that B2B purchasers are not necessarily looking for a specific product; they are looking to find a solution to a problem and understanding that problem is the key to success.

B2B marketers need to get data-centric

In order to move away from a product centred approach to a more customer-focused one, B2B suppliers need to become far more knowledgeable about customer-focused selling. Up until recently, sellers have tended to use standard segmentation criteria to identify and sell to their target market, however in the world of online sales, it is essential that marketers approach their market in a far more fluid and human way.

B2B marketers need to deepen their understanding of the market; they need to know what motivates clients, what their buying habits are and more importantly what they expect from the business relationship. Although this is a significant challenge for today’s marketing managers, it must also be seen as an opportunity.

Industry leaders such as RC&A are well aware of the level of adaptation required and can assist in identifying new hires with experience in tackling the issues being faced by today’s B2B firms at senior digital management level. If you feel you need expert advice and assistance with resourcing, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

[1] https://www.gartner.com/en/sales-service/insights/b2b-buying-journey
[2] https://www.business2community.com/consumer-marketing/what-consumers-expect-from-you-today-humanizing-digital-2020-02069978

 

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