Twenty or thirty years ago, the B2B sales process was very hands-on. Sales reps would spend their time visiting new and prospective customers, answering questions, delivering samples and brochures and occasionally taking clients out to lunch or the golf course.
These days, most of your prospective customers will already know a lot about your business and products before you ever meet them. The sales process has evolved significantly, and while you might still have a real-world sales team, it's very important to understand the digital buying journey too.
Brand and Product Awareness
The first step in the modern B2B buyer's journey is still brand and product awareness, but these days, buyers are finding your company via a Google search or asking social media connections for recommendations. This makes it easier to be found, but also means that you need to spend a little more time and energy on your online presence.
Pain Points and Solutions
B2B buyers are still looking for a solution to a problem when they find your business online. These days, however, they often find the first information they need on your company blog. If they find the answer to one or two questions there, they might move to your product and services pages, and even download some product data and information.
At this point, your B2B buyer is still deciding whether your company can solve his or her problem, and the more credible and experienced you seem, the more likely they are to move forward with the process. So make sure that your website is a valuable resource that really shows the world who you are.
One of the biggest changes in the B2B purchasing process these days is that your prospective customer is likely to have a lot more information if and when they decide to contact your sales team. In fact, some studies have shown that 70% of all buyers will already have defined their needs before they speak to your sales team.
This means that there's less work to be done selling them on a product or service, and also that customers are a lot more educated about their options than ever before.
Still Require Multiple Touches
For a long time, the golden rule in sales was that you needed to connect with a customer seven times before they would be ready to make a purchase. The latest statistics say that this number may have dropped to three to five, but the biggest difference is that many of those connections will not involve any people in your office.
Most B2B customers these days - over 80% - have even said that they prefer to do their research and order online. So they might never speak to an actual person in your office.
This means that each point of connection with your customer is likely to be online. Sometimes this is via social media, sometimes by PPC ads, and sometimes on your website or blog. Since so much of the buying decision process is now digital, it's a good idea to make sure you're on top of your game.
Social Media Heavy Research
While you might expect most of the research decision-makers do online is in reports and reviews, they actually rely a lot more heavily on their network than you might think. Social networks, that is.
In fact, over 80% of top decision-makers rely at least in part on recommendations from their network on sites like LinkedIn. So if your business is not already active on social media, now is a great time to get started.
Educate - Don't Advertise!
These days, a big part of the B2B buyer's journey is inbound, which means your prospective customers are searching for information online, and they find your site during that search. 80% of those prospective customers would rather read several articles about your products and services than see an ad.
B2B Buyers Read Online Reviews
You might think that online reviews only matter to consumers, but studies have shown that over 90% of B2B buyers are influenced by credible online reviews. Research about online reviews has also shown that many companies that have lower than a three out of five-star rating are less likely to be contacted for a quote or information.
Times certainly have changed a lot, and while the customer is firmly in the driver's seat these days, getting your digital marketing strategy in place and working for you could be the shift you need to break sales records this year.
Get Professional Marketing Help to Reach B2B Buyers
There's no denying that the internet has changed the way we all shop, and B2B buyers are no different. Contact us today to learn how our professional marketing company can help put your business, products, and services in front of the right people at the right stage of the process.