While online B2B buying habits have changed dramatically in the past decade, today’s B2B buyer journey looks a lot different than it did just a couple of years ago. The increase in remote and hybrid working has acted as a catalyst for the digital transformation that was already well underway, requiring B2B vendors to adapt how they communicate with their potential buyers.
Buyers now navigate much of their journey solo, with almost half of them taking at least three months to conduct self-guided research into new vendors before reaching out to a sales rep. Therefore, as Forrester states, the role of B2B marketing is “no longer to attract and persuade; it’s really to engage buyers and help them through their journey.”
To be successful in this new normal, B2B vendors must cater to the modern needs of their buyers to facilitate a journey that’s as smooth as possible. This requires a solid understanding of not only who your customers are, but what they want and need from your business to make their purchase path more efficient, and more enjoyable.
Understanding the Different Types of B2B Buyers
A quick Google search reveals a variety of ways you can attempt to categorize the different types of B2B buyers. If you find these frameworks useful, go ahead and use them. But at the end of the day, the only types of buyers that really matter are the ones relevant to your business.
Therefore, it’s generally better to focus on your own Ideal Customer Profile and buyer personas as opposed to cookie-cutter categorization. Once you’ve locked these down, you can begin to layer in additional information about general B2B buying behaviors and trends within your industry to help you better understand your customer ecosystem.
B2B Buyers’ Frustrations with the Customer Journey
Customer dissatisfaction will vary depending on your own buyer personas and industry, but according to Gartner, these are the top five things that frustrate today’s B2B buyers when trying to make a purchase:
- Difficulty finding specific information
- Getting pushed to buy when they’re just trying to learn more
- Too much follow-up outreach
- Hard to compare products side by side
- Forced to register before seeing if information is relevant
With this set of common annoyances, what exactly are today’s B2B buyers looking for from their vendors? Read on to find out.
Key B2B Buyer Journey Statistics to Learn From
Forward-thinking marketers should take advantage of the insights gleaned from the statistics below when developing ways to improve the path to purchase for their buyers:
Make it Easy
77% of B2B buyers say their latest purchase was very difficult—Gartner
As Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Given that most of their purchases are complex decisions involving multiple stakeholders and decision-makers, B2B buyers are likely to gravitate toward your brand if you jettison any unnecessary complexity in your buying process. Begin by taking note of Gartner’s buyer frustrations above and identifying areas where you can simplify things for your customers.
For example, ensure all the information needed to thoroughly research your products and services is available and accessible. Avoid the temptation to gatekeep key resources. Sure, it might fast-track some one-on-one communication as your prospects are forced to contact you with their questions, but these conversations won’t be an opportunity for a sale. Prospects will be disgruntled they can’t find the information they need and will simply want guidance on where to find it. Attempting to push them further down the funnel at this stage will only alienate them further.
Have all resources available in easy-to-find places on your website and leave your sales reps to do what they do best—selling—rather than signposting prospects to information.
Prioritize Customer Experience
Buyers are 34% more likely to buy from vendors that do this (and 32% more likely to renew)—Deloitte
Providing an incredible customer experience (CX) throughout the buyer journey isn’t just good for your prospects, but for your bottom line, too. Businesses that make CX a top priority are 18% more likely to exceed their revenue goals within 12 months versus those that don’t.
Your content may read better than the New York Times Best Sellers list and your product videos may be Oscar-worthy, but without the customer experience to match, even your best marketing efforts will fall flat.
So, what exactly constitutes excellent customer service? There are many contributing factors, but one pillar to base your customer service on is humanity. It’s important to most customers—84% of them in fact—to be treated like a human being rather than just another number. Achieving this can be as easy as simply remembering that you’re communicating with a human being when crafting marketing materials or conversing with prospects. Keeping your CRM 100% up to date can help with this, ensuring your sales team and customer service reps have current and relevant customer information immediately at hand, enabling them to easily reference attributes unique to the customer in conversation.
Facilitate Digital Self-Serve
More than three-quarters of buyers now prefer it to face-to-face interaction—McKinsey
Some things should always be done in person—breakups, for instance. But B2B sales are no longer one of them. A perfect example of a trend accelerated by the circumstances of the past few years, most buyers now prefer digital self-serve and remote engagement to traditional face-to-face communication.
And this doesn’t only apply to smaller scale B2B transactions—70% of decision-makers are open to making remote purchases in excess of $50,000, with 27% willing to spend more than $500,000. Therefore, if your business can facilitate sales via e-commerce but has yet to get started, now’s the time to begin. If e-commerce isn’t an option, ensure that you at least make video meetings available to your prospects—the amount of revenue generated from video communication has spiked 69% since April 2020.
Ensure Reality Meets Expectations
80% of buyers have switched from suppliers whose services don’t align with their needs—BusinessWire
This statistic about customer churn underscores everything we’ve spoken about so far, emphasizing just how important it is to meet your buyers’ expectations. After all, if the service you provide doesn’t meet their criteria, they won’t hesitate to leave.
To reduce customer churn, you should not only enhance all elements of the buyers’ journey that precede conversion, but post-sale interactions too. Make your after-sales service part of the appeal of working with you and ensure your CX team is regularly checking in with your clients. Not only does this make your customers feel valued, but it also helps you identify clients that need additional TLC. By pre-empting any issues, you can nip them in the bud early, reducing the likelihood that your customers seek help elsewhere—namely from your competitors.
You’ve Mastered the Journey, Now Add the Customers
After investing time and resources in enhancing your B2B buyers’ journey, why not give your pipeline a head start by enlisting the help of a partner like DemandScience that can help you identify in-market buyers looking for your products and services!
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