The pandemic forced B2B buyers and sellers to go digital in a big way. What started as a crisis response has now become the next normal, with profound implications for how brands and their customers will do business in the future. The B2B customer is changing, and merchants need to understand and connect with new generations of buyers if they wish to stay competitive
A new B2B consumer has risen amidst a decade of dramatic change to the B2B sales and marketing landscape. Cutting-edge digital platforms now drive how business gets done and increasingly guide how decisions are made.
Traditional strategies are becoming obsolete as content marketing replaces the sales techniques of yesteryear, and a modern B2B consumer with distinct buying habits has come into focus.
The industry has seen several shifts in B2B consumer behavior, and with in-person meetings out of the question today, the focus on digital to drive revenues is amplified. Consumers of B2B firms now see a rise in digital interactions compared to traditional sales interactions. A report from McKinsey in April 2020 has shown how digital-enabled sales interactions are at least two times more important now than they were before the pandemic.
Ranbir Sahota, Director at Vitis PR, says, “2021 will see marketers continue to build audience relationships in a digital-first world. With the lack of events, exhibitions, and opportunities to meet clients and prospects in person, brands will be reaching, engaging with, and keeping their audiences informed online.”
And as the battle for loyalty and attention intensifies, sales and services need to work in tandem and operate seamlessly to reimagine interactions and deliver on a differentiated human experience. To achieve this, CMOs need to develop new capabilities and leverage data to target and deliver not only messaging but also create moments that matter.
B2B customers want more than bundled services and product features. A majority of buyers expect personalized experiences while interacting with companies. They want engaging and personalized human experiences. Designing a B2B sales experience that lives up to their expectations, requires addressing both their emotional and business needs.
Businesses need to have a clear picture of their customer’s needs, likes, and purchasing habits. It’s only via the combination of such holistic information can brands achieve the level of personalization their B2B consumers seek – seeing the right messages at the right time.
Omnichannel Buying Experience
In order to adapt to the expectations of the new B2B buyer, organizations need to meet customers where they are. The B2B sales process has heavily relied on in-person transactions with direct sales, but the pandemic has forced buyers to move to online eCommerce channels.
Beyond shifting to digital to survive, vendors must now adapt digital selling strategies accordingly to retain customers. Customers are craving an eCommerce experience where they can effectively self-serve online. But, vendors also need to think about how the eCommerce channel integrates with conventional in-person sales touch points, so customers get a consistent buying experience overall.
The Need for the Right Content
The attention span of the new age customers is growing shorter by the day, and with a variety of alternatives, they are a click away from seeking the content they require. Hence, it is crucial that businesses create content that will not only engage with the new B2B customer but also accelerate the purchasing journey.
Mirko Holzer, CEO of BrandMaker, “Today, consumers are more inundated than ever with marketing messages from their favorite brands. Given this, marketers will need to boost relevancy as well as their creative juices to cut through the clutter and stand out.”
“Connecting with target consumers, who are increasingly more online, will be more challenging this year, meaning close consideration to content and meaningful messaging will be imperative. The right technology helps marketers to score and prioritize content to directly trigger the content-creation process so they can more efficiently create, distribute and launch the new content they need to engage consumers”, he adds.
Content needs to stretch the entire consumer journey and should provide value even in product-agnostic areas such as requirements building and problem exploration. A dynamic asset can collect and connect actionable insights to marketing and sales teams who can leverage the data to create a more engaging online and offline experience.