Part 1: The changing nature of B2B buyers
There are some powerful forces driving businesses to radically rethink the long-term value of customer relationships and how they interact with their customers. Understanding these forces is integral to account-based growth success.
In this series of blogs, we will consider the significant business challenges which are driving change. These are: the changing nature of B2B buyers; the rise of platform businesses and the impact on B2B; and the need to focus on broader environmental and societal issues.
In this article Tim Shercliff explores the way B2B buying behaviour is changing, what this means for your business and how it can be addressed.
Just selling isn’t enough
As technology enables a one-to-one relationship with customers, B2B organisations must do more than sell. They need to demonstrate insight into what their customers value and make it easy for customers to engage with them through multiple channels as they make their way through the buying journey.
Group decision making means you have more client contacts
High consideration, complex transactions are commonly determined by increasingly large groups of internal B2B buyers looking to reach consensus before making a decision. Recent research and anecdotal evidence suggest that the number of decision-makers in the buyer group can be as many as 20 to 30 people in very complex sales and that the number of people involved in the buying process is increasing every year.
B2B buyers are making big purchases online
The B2B buyer-seller journey now involves the use of multiple channels, which is consistent with the way that consumers are using channels, particularly online and self-service, to research and make substantial purchases. A report by McKinsey published in December 2021 (Harrison et al, 2021), charted the rise of ‘omnichannel’ in B2B purchases and blows apart the myth that B2B purchases online are only for small, simple transactions.
What this means
As customers find new ways to interact with potential suppliers, it is more important than ever that B2B marketing and sales departments present a consistent set of channels and relevant, personalised content to their customers.
With more information available to potential customers across different channels, B2B organisations need to build strong, deep relationships with clients to influence the decision-making process much earlier in the sales cycle.
How these changes can be addressed
Meeting this changing B2B buyer behaviour requires investment in experienced, senior dedicated teams who will spend the time required to get to know their customers intimately. By definition, this has to be done selectively and requires decisions around prioritising customers.
As one seasoned executive commented: ‘If we have one managing partner on an account and our competition can afford four managing partners on the same account, on the whole, we’re going to lose out. We’ll be losing business we didn’t even know about before it was too late.’
Read more about unlocking sustainable value through extraordinary customer focus in ‘Account-Based Growth’ by Bev Burgess and Tim Shercliff, published by Kogan Page.
Find more blogs from Tim Shercliff on the Resources page of our website.