Companies have long relied on traditional sales methods like 1:1 sales, distributor relationships, and purchasing contracts to sell business products and services. While still important, we’re in the midst of a sea change as expectations for how consumers buy online have begun to shape the $1.1 trillion market.
A recent study Sullivan fielded shows just how quickly this shift is happening – and how much executives value quick, simple ways of obtaining products and services. Here’s what we found in our survey of mid-to-senior level executives responsible for buying business products and services on behalf of their firms:
- 88% of executives buy their business products online
- 92% wished purchasing business products online had the same ease as buying consumer goods online
- 49% – nearly half! –intended to buy one product, but bought a competitor product instead because it was too hard to buy online
Only 12% of executives don’t purchase online. Of that 12%:
- 50% purchased offline for reasons like company policy and purchasing contracts
- 33% could not find enough information on the products they wished to purchase
- 17% could not find the product they needed
In the age of Amazon Business and Google Shopping, businesses must rethink their channel and sales strategies. And while not every marketer is in a position to make big changes from the top-down or shift value away from existing distribution channels, there are still ways to make an impact.
The best way to start? Define what customer experience should mean for today’s B2B buyer. Here are some practical ways you can change the way your customers interact with your product, service or brand for the better:
Embrace the Diminishing Lines Between B2B and B2C Purchasing Behavior
Traditional B2B companies are generally sufficient at presenting functional product or service information, but struggle to present information in a way that aligns with how customers research and buy. In Sullivan’s recent survey of today’s B2B buyers, nearly half (49%) of those polled intended to buy a certain product, but went to a competitor that offered an easier way to shop online. How do you keep your customers from going to a rival? How do you improve the current buying experience, and/or create an online presence designed to better facilitate direct sales?
Empower Your Customers Through the Right Content
Buyers of complex business products and services across product divisions are more likely to extensively research, assess specifications, select functionality, and share experiences about products across multiple channels. Our research shows that more than half (51%) of today’s B2B buyers who make online purchases find out about products/services from corporate websites. Right behind that? Salespeople. How can you help customers connect the dots between each product and service—across divisions or categories—so they walk away with a clear understanding of your overall expertise? How can you get customers to feel you’re helping them make smart decision instead of just building a product that they happen to have a need for? Could peer reviews and more detailed product visualizations be a start?
Help Sales Adapt to a New Purpose – Consulting Based on Customer Mindset
Salespeople often make incorrect presumptions about prospective buyers by selling to roles versus their needs and personality types. They can also get caught up in selling product features and functions, and can lose sight of the need—and opportunity—to add value beyond just the products. How can you help sales direct conversations to reflect the buyer’s mindset and focus on business problems first?
These changes can feel overwhelming, especially as a marketer in a large, siloed, and sales-driven organization. How do you make the case for changing the way your organization reaches customers? How do you know what those changes should be? Is it worth it? The short answer is yes, because investments in marketing and sales improve business performance.
We’re hosting a Webinar later this spring to talk through some of the very pragmatic things marketers at large organizations can do to drive sales and reach today’s B2B buyer. Register now here.
This article originally appeared here.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Amazon Effect: Why B2B Purchasing Needs to Embrace the Change [Infographic]
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