“Things ain't what they used to be… and probably never was.”
– Will Rogers
Are you ready for the buyers of today?
The landscape for B2B has been through rapid change recently. Some driven by the surprise and now lasting changes brought on by a global pandemic, but even before 2020, those who were paying attention saw a monumental shift happening that would leave B2B marketing and buying changed forever. The generational shift has been coming for years but has accelerated from the increased retirements of baby-boomer hold outs and the disproportionately small number of Generation X B2B leaders; Millennials have jumped to the lead in B2B buying influence.
The percentage of Millennial B2B buyers is on the rise, with some reporting it as high as 60%. At this point, 77% of Millennials in B2B buying influence the final decision and 44% are the sole decision maker.
Changes as significant as these inevitably come with changes in buyer behavior. As a new generation is hitting its stride in B2B, you must consider:
- Are your sales changes aligned to these buyers?
- Are outside sales reps?
- Are your systems?
- Are you ready to meet the changing expectations of B2B buyers?
Adapting while maintaining trust
As companies work to meet their buyers’ new expectations, especially around digital, we often hear the objection, “… but our customers expect a personal relationship, someone taking care of them. Our business is about trust.”
The underlying truth of this objection is about what makes the relationship matter – not how one engages in the relationship. In other words, building a relationship of trust is still central to B2B success, but the methods of doing so are what is changing. Trust can be established with clean and correct product data, and content that streamlines the complex buying process. Sales reps can engage via text and live chat to answer customer questions. Physical visits can still be meaningful but should consist of problem-solving or big-picture thinking rather than order taking – self-service should do most of that. Trust is still the key ingredient, but today there are diverse ways to create it.
How to make it happen
When it comes to executing on digital transformation in B2B, you don’t have to have all the know-how in-house. Our B2B Commerce business is driven by linking our digital expertise to your deep knowledge of your B2B customers. We provide products, best practices, partners, training and more, to ensure the success of our clients.
Next week we will be doing a deep dive into this topic and providing specific guidance on adapting to digital expectations by:
- Improving your UX and utilizing personalization
- Leveraging self-service and content to keep buyers happy
- Engaging with buyers in the channels they choose
Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about these approaches to building trusted relationships in a digital world.