The B2B Renaissance
Are we on the cusp of a completely new era of B2B behavior?
Things change, summer turns into winter, and Billy Joel goes out of style. However, one constant that has always stayed true is the way B2B purchasing works.
You convince the CEO your product is effective, make the process as easy as possible for the purchasing director, and the next thing you know, you're in business. It's how it is, and how it always will be, right?
Well, not for very long if Outreach's 2022 Revenue Innovators EMEA Summit is to be believed. In fact, it's all about to be turned on its head - but that doesn't mean you have to worry. In this blog, we'll share the biggest takeaways from the summit, reveal how B2B selling is changing, and give you a few tips on how to make the most of the B2B renaissance.
What's changing for B2B buyers?
In the past, companies would elect an individual who would be in charge of buying particular resources for the business. These individuals would usually report directly to a business owner or CEO, which means that if you wanted to sell to said business, you just needed to convince one or two people on a very short buying cycle. However, with 77% of sellers noticing longer deal cycles over the last two years, it's plain to see that something has changed.
B2B purchasing has become a team game. Today, more than ever, there are more people in the boardroom and more sign offs required before a cent leaves the business account. Buying committees now consist of financial, strategic, development and procurement specialists, each with their own agendas and mindsets. If you want to sell to the business, you have to sell to each of them.
With so many individual challenges, pain points and personalities to contend with, how are you expected to check everyone's boxes?
The good news is, you don't have to.
How to sell to B2B Buying Groups
You may be worried that you can't possibly account for every different department of every business you want to sell to, and changing your product for everyone just isn't feasible. We're here to tell you that no one expects you to do that.
Digitally activated B2B buyers are self-directed and knowledgeable with a healthy understanding of the products they consider purchasing. They prefer to conduct their own research and come to their own understanding before they have a conversation with you.
Today's buyers don't want to immediately provide for every agenda and tick all the boxes; they want to work collaboratively with you through their pain-points and challenges.
In essence: when it comes to new-age B2B buying groups, it's not what you sell, it's how you sell it. Let's take a look at what today's B2B buyers want, and what you can do about it.
Three big expectations in buying group behavior
1 - B2B Buyers want you to be attentive
69% of buyers expect sellers to be on standby when they're ready to have a conversation. Nurturing is important, but once your customers are ready to pull the trigger, you better be ready.
What you should do about it - Be ready
Your sales and customer support teams should always be on standby, ready to assist when the customer comes calling. This doesn't mean you need your sales team to sleep with their phones underneath their pillows. Marketing automation tools can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. They respond faster than any human, and will let you know who is ready to talk to a salesperson.
2 - B2B Buyers want you to guide them
By far the majority of buyers want to have some sort of guidance from sellers. 36% of buyers expect sellers to completely guide the purchasing process, and 29% want to collaboratively work together to determine the next steps.
What should you do about it? Be in the know
According to the summit, research shows a 13% improved close rate when buyers and sellers mutually align on the purchasing plan. In order to guide, however, you need to not only understand your product, but your customers as well.
Every member in your sales team needs to be ready to tackle complex questions from the buying committee. What implications does it have for business development, what effect will it have on a business' budget and where does it fit in operationally, are all questions your team needs to have an answer to. However, buyers prefer getting a good answer now, rather than a perfect answer later; speed matters.
If your marketing pipeline has been affective, you will naturally know detailed answers for these questions before they're even asked. Proper ABM profiling will give you an indication of what your potential customers want to know.
3 - B2B Buyers want you to have the answers
92% of today's B2B buyers expect their sellers to be technical experts and champions of the product they're selling. Confidence in the solution or product was rated as the top trait when it comes to making a decision on what to invest in for buyers - even above pricing. 79% indicated they are more likely to purchase, if the seller takes a consultative approach.
What should you do about it? Be confident.
Your sales team should always understand the difference their product or solution makes in the lives of buyers. They should have a detailed understanding of the market, how their product fits in, and why it's better than the competition.
Again, a large part of this comes from supporting market activities and analytics. If your sales team understands their customers, meets them on their terms, and knows it, they will have a higher chance of coming across as confident whenever they deal with decision makers.
Good answers in a short time-frame always beat out perfect answers over a longer period. Additionally, Millennial buyers prefer having the seller guide the process but collaboratively decide the next steps. They also like to be contacted on their terms, wherever they are, through multiple channels. Most buyers prefer virtual meetings or to be contacted by phone, but only when they are ready. Understanding these differences will help your team come across as confident, ready and prepared.
Be the change
The only constant in business is change.
New buying trends have come a long way from the sales cycles and funnels of the past. If we want to remain competitive as B2B sellers, our methods and approaches must be adapted to new buyer tastes - however many there are.
By following the above insights and tips, you can be the change for your own organization, finding more opportunities to sell to B2B buying groups. If you would like more guidance on the topic, or just a helping hand with your own campaigns, contact LeadFabric today. We'll discuss your needs, identify opportunities and get you ready for the new B2B buyer's business landscape.
- Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study
- Commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Outreach, April 2022