B2B buying and selling has experienced so many nuanced changes that it can be difficult to know where to place attention and resources. Yet companies that don’t keep pace with the changes are destined to fall behind and lose their competitive advantage.
Keeping pace comes down to one common denominator: accelerating the ability to meet what buyers demand in the marketplace.
McKinsey researchers have identified the three things that buyers value most. Remaining aligned with these values is critical for success.
Buyers Value Speed
A buyer’s initial contact with your company is often digital and their first impression will be a lasting one.
Give buyers smooth navigation to specific content. Respond quickly to requests for further information. And give them ways to stay in touch with you via any device and along their preferred communication channel.
A slow response time is buyers’ biggest complaint in terms of what frustrates them most. [McKinsey]
Ways to Deliver Speed
Consider investing in artificial intelligence and other tools to collect and analyze buyer behavioral data that enables your sales team to more rapidly and strategically respond to buyers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Make sure your website navigation makes it easy for buyers with different needs and in different industries to locate pertinent content. Keep the site—and all other digital properties– continually updated with current, standardized information.
Make it easy and seamless for buyers to engage with your company across all devices. This means enabling real-time conversations and ensuring immediate responses.
Buyers Value Transparency
Today’s B2B buyer is much more savvy and knowledgeable than in the past. Now, buyers can instantly access information from myriad devices and channels. Whether they visit your corporate website, read an email or text message from your marketing team, or speak with a sales rep, they expect to gain helpful information that is consistent and relevant, and uniform across channels.
Your product and/or service features that differentiate you from your competitors should be straightforward and clear to every buyer. Clarify your customization options, buying process, and pricing structure, and ensure they are consistently conveyed at every touchpoint. This helps to build trust in your brand. When buyers ultimately contact a sales rep, they will do so with the assurance that your company and brand are stable and reliable.
On the other hand, if buyers spot discrepancies during this critical research stage, or cannot readily locate answers to their questions, they may get frustrated and, if they are not ready to speak with a sales rep for clarification, move on to a competitor.
Your brand position and your company values are equally important, especially to Millennials and Gen Zers. Data shows that these buyers prefer to do business with companies that support causes and charitable organizations that resonate with them in meaningful ways. Appealing to this audience is becoming essential: By 2025, Gen Z buyers will represent 85% of the digital buying population.
Contradictory supplier information can reduce the likelihood of a customer making a significant purchase up to nearly 160%. [Gartner]
How to Deliver Transparency
Be upfront about the strengths and weaknesses of your products and services.
Enrich your online information with easy-to-understand brand comparison charts, checklists, and interactive surveys that engage buyers with your brand.
Post product reviews, testimonials, and case studies where they are easily accessible.
Make sure all information about your products and services is consistent across all channels.
BUYERS VALUE EXPERTISE
The online research that B2B buyers are conducting prior to contacting a sales rep presupposes that they are seeking a broad understanding of available products and services. They are actively comparing one brand to another, and in doing so, they will ignore vague descriptions and surface-level information. They want to know that you have experience in their industry, recognize their pain points, and can confidently recommend a potential solution for their business challenges.
All of this knowledge can be presented digitally, and then augmented and enhanced by the sales rep during a face-to-face (whether in-person or virtual) conversation. Sales reps can stand apart by demonstrating how they can meet the specific needs of each buyer. The more expertise your sales reps possess in this area, the greater the credibility of your company and your brand and the better chance of creating a fruitful relationship.
When they want to purchase a completely new product or service, 76% of B2B buyers find it helpful to speak to someone in person or on the phone. [McKinsey]
Ways to Deliver Expertise
Share details of how your products and/or services compare with those of your competitors.
Point to relevant case studies and other explanatory materials and data that reflect the solutions the buyer seeks.
Ask the kind of probing, open-ended questions that will give you a clear understanding of the individual buyer’s unique problems. Learn about their buying process and identify the key stakeholders involved in the purchase decision.
Take advantage of digital tools at your disposal to share information. This could be in the form of videos, interactive diagrams or charts, and specialized apps that engage the buyer.
Encourage sales reps to build strong social media profiles that showcase their professional experience with your brand and emphasize how they have helped support customers to achieve their goals.