Change in B2B buying behaviors demands sales leaders understands customers behavior and customer journey better, empowering them to influence the decision-making process.
Making a larger purchase takes much longer time today than in the past years, despite increased access to information. Customers with higher awareness consult multiple digital channels and seek expert advice before purchase. Even after a convincing sales pitch, customers turn to expert opinions, digital channels, and user reviews to validate supplier claims.
The onus is on sales heads to make the purchase process simpler. This new buying reality has posed multiple challenges for suppliers to understand what their customers need and desire as they navigate through the decision-making process. For sales leaders tasked with responding to and anticipating emerging customer buying behaviors, the below mentioned five key factors should always be considered:
Customers are well aware, but maybe overwhelmed
Increased access to information — from pricing comparisons to product reviews — has left many buyers feeling overwhelmed. As per Gartner’s survey, 15% of the customer purchase process is spent on the deconfliction of information.
When buyers feel overwhelmed, they are likely to regret their purchase later or face delayed decision-making. Both negatively affect the customer-supplier relationship. Firms need to equip account managers to satisfy customer expectations, maximizing customer retention possibilities.
Customers aren’t motivated merely by delight
According to Gartner, 88% of account managers believe servicing accounts beyond customer expectations is the secret to growth. Although better-than-expected customer service retains a sales account, researches confirm that it doesn’t impact the degree to which the account grows.
Firms need to identify the following steps to move from retention to growth:
- Deliver on commitments
- Exceed customer expectation
- Expand commercial relationship
- Drive consumption
- Earn permission to sell
However, this traditional seller approach focuses heavily on preventing loss rather than promoting growth. Account managers can focus their efforts on activities most likely to increase the possibility of growth.
Customers want enhanced supplier value
Gartner research confirms “customer improvement” conversations tend to be highly effective at driving both growth and retention. They enable account managers to provide new perspectives to customers for improved business operations, mitigating risk, and managing inventories. By leveraging these types of customer improvement conversations, sellers can reduce the likelihood of buyers considering a competitor when renewing or re-purchasing.
To implement a customer improvement approach, firms need to:
- Offer customers a futuristic vision of business improvement
- Providing customers with a unique perspective on their existing business operations
- Explain the potential ROI of undertaking an action
Firms mistakenly believe that the best defense against customer defection is to emphasize all the superior value that can be delivered. In reality, it is customer improvement conversations that are most likely to reduce competitor consideration. Customer improvement helps to drive growth because it provides customers a reason to change their behaviors.
Using digital channels at all stages of buying journeys
Not only customers are relying on digital channels for researching, but they are also using them along the entire journey to validate the information received from the sales teams. Surprisingly, Gartner’s research found 83% of surveyed customers accessing digital channels even in the late purchasing stages.
This pushes the need to have a digital marketing strategy specifically designed to assist buyers throughout the early, middle, and post-purchase stages of the buying journey. Also, firms should give customers an entry point on their terms.
Customers rely heavily on company websites
The most frequently consulted digital channel for customers — across all the stages of the purchase process —is the company website.
Unfortunately, most company websites are designed to introduce the company not designed to support buying behavior.
Company websites need to incorporate three critical elements:
- Share solutions in their language
- Give customers an entry point on their desired terms
- Help customers do what they look for on the site
Sales leaders should evaluate their websites to comprehend how they can assist customers with accomplishing specific buying tasks.