In our article a few days ago, we looked at how David Brent and the stereotypical B2B seller is dying out. The reason for this change? The evolution of the buyer.
The balance of power has shifted towards the buyers, and away from the seller - but why and how?
The typical profile of a B2B buyer is much different now than it used to be. Many more younger professionals occupy high or mid-level positions in buying teams, causing a shift towards new technologies and techniques.
These younger buyers may be more prone to using digital technologies and using online tools to find out information themselves, just as they are used to in their everyday personal lives.
The shift towards a younger buyer has been quite dramatic. According to research by Google, the percentage of B2B buyers in the 18-34 age bracket has increased from 27% to 46% in just the last two years. This marks a change that your B2B business simply can’t ignore.
In the digital world, buyers have access to more information than ever before, and are beginning to use it to inform their purchasing decisions and processes.
Buyers will now carry out research before making initial contact with your business. They will also likely research and compare multiple different alternatives, conducting 12 searches on average before making any contact.
Buyers will read content, listen to podcasts and watch videos to help inform their purchasing decisions, all while businesses have no idea they even exist yet.
So much research is being conducted before any communication with your business begins, that a total rethink of how the process is approached may be needed.
On average, 74% of buyer research is completed before initial contact.
Customers will arrive well informed and armed with the majority of the information they need to complete a sale.
On the one hand, this means leads may be much more qualified when they contact you. However, the level of detail and information that leads do require at this point will be much greater - they’ve done the overview research themselves, they now need answers to specific questions.
You might need to consider if your sales team are equipped to deal with these new, well informed buyers?
Whereas before, sales people would have a basic knowledge of your products and services, now they need to be detail orientated and able to answer more specific and technical queries from buyers.
The number of people involved in the buying process has increased over recent years, to the point where an average of 5.4 people are involved in purchasing decisions.
This means your sales team no longer have to convince just one person, but a whole team of buyers at different levels of the organisation.
What’s more, initial research may be conducted by staff who won’t even be involved in the final decision. Buyers may have initial research conducted by administration assistants or office managers. Senior decision makers are only likely to become involved at later stages of the process, when a shortlist has already been drawn up.
The modern B2B buyer will research and monitor potential suppliers through social media platforms, websites, blogs, local media etc. and so a business with a poor marketing presence may come across as less professional and lead to lost business. Is your sales team working with your marketing team? If not, they definitely do this, to ensure that the common questions that your customers may have are included across your marketing communications.
The modern buyer is adopting new digital mediums of information, empowering themselves through research and making team decisions.
The way that your B2B sales team design and manage their sales process will have to change dramatically to accommodate these better informed buyers. You’ll have to begin targeting multiple different buyer profiles and engaging with buyers in new and innovative ways.
We are going to be releasing a comprehensive eBook over the next few weeks dedicated to the transformed B2B buyer and what both SMEs and enterprises need to do to make sure their sales team are well-equipped, well-trained and well-informed to meet the needs of this buyer.
To register your interest and to be notified when the eBook is available, let us know using the form below.
Start your planning now with our free, comprehensive 2019 eCommerce Calendar.