To better understand the way customers make purchases and the way they can influence the decision-making process, sales leaders must adapt to the new B2B buying behaviors.
Despite increased access to information, it is very often that large purchases take much longer today. Customers now seek advice from colleagues and consult multiple digital channels before engaging with a sales representative. Customers also return to digital channels, even after the sales pitch to validate the supplier’s claims.
This puts the onus on sales leaders to ensure that the purchase process is easier. Experts believe that even with more information and options available in a buying process, buyers are hesitant to move forward. The new buying reality makes it challenging for suppliers to understand the needs of their customers when they navigate through the decision-making process. Sales leaders need to anticipate and respond to emerging customer buying behaviors.
It is crucial to consider that while providing adequate information to customers is critical, overwhelming them with data is not smart. Gargantuan volumes of products and services information could have the opposite effect. According to research by Gartner, 15% of the customer purchase process is now being spent on the de-confliction of information.
B2B buyer behaviors studies also state that when buyers feel overwhelmed, they are likely to regret their purchase, or worst, fail to reach a decision. This negatively affects their relationship with the supplier. Sales leaders must ensure that reps can address customers’ needs and that the customers are effectively and efficiently able to progress to a purchase decision.
It is also essential to equip account managers so that they can satisfy customer expectations for retention. According to Gartner’s, 2017 Account Growth Diagnostic report, 88% of account managers believe that the best way to go ahead is by servicing accounts beyond customer expectations. Better-then-expected customer service has the ability to retain a sales account, but it does not affect the degree with which the account can grow.
Customers are not only relying on digital channels during the first researching an offering; they are also using these channels along the way to validate every information they receive from sales reps. Gartner research suggests that 83% of customers access digital channels in the late purchasing stages. This highlights the requirement of a digital marketing strategy meant specifically for helping buyers through all the steps of the purchase process.
Sales leaders also need to make sure that modern B2B customers get an entry point on their terms. According to experts, sales can no longer be a process that starts with digital and moves to one-on-one interactions, in a sequential process. These are parallel experiences to support the buyer journey. It is critical to understand that once in-person talks begin, it does not mean that online ends.
B2B customers also rely heavily on the websites of companies for information. Company websites have become the most popular and most frequently consulted digital channel. Customers primarily use websites to accomplish specific buying tasks. However, when sites do not support buying behavior, there is a loss of connectivity. Experts suggest that sales leaders must ensure that the company websites have elements that can help customers buy. These include providing customers an entry point on their terms and sharing solutions in their language. Therefore, it is important that sales leaders must evaluate their websites and the importance to improve them for helping customers to accomplish specific buying tasks.