Not long ago, B2B sales was easy: A business identified a problem and reached out to a potential vendor to inquire about a solution.
However, since the internet has grown, businesses no longer immediately reach out to vendors for solutions. Instead, businesses will research their problem online, uncover a bevy of potential solutions, check with business partners, professional networks and friends for recommendations, read online reviews and complete a number of other preliminary steps before contacting a knowledgeable B2B. What this means is that B2B sales efforts have become unpredictable, with a mishmash of traditional sales and innovative marketing techniques driving leads down the funnel.
If your B2B is struggling to boost sales, you might be suffering from this new chaotic structure within the B2B market. Thus, it will benefit you to learn about the new B2B buyer and what they want from the sales experience.
Who Are B2B Buyers?
You might be tempted to answer this question with “businesses,” but you likely already know that isn’t true. An entire organization rarely does any single action; rather, there are specific employees within the organization who make buying decisions. It’s important to market to these individuals specifically to generate sales.
However, B2B buyers change frequently. The same individuals you might have contacted before have likely moved up and out of those positions, leaving room for a new generation of B2B buyers. Indeed, research shows that younger professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 make up the majority of B2B buyers, so if you don’t know how to sell to this demographic, you need to learn, fast.
What Do They Know and What Do They Want?
In general, younger professionals rely heavily on digital technologies, especially in the buying process. An astounding 94 percent of B2B buyers conduct research online before making a decision, even when the purchase is intended for organizational as opposed to personal use. Unsurprisingly, as a result, modern B2B buyers are likely to take roughly 22 percent longer to reach a decision regarding their business purchase.
This behavior is largely because modern B2B buyers are exceedingly skeptical of the sales and marketing messages they encounter. Because sales reps will always push their sales agenda rather than honestly help solve a problem for as little money, time and energy as possible, most buyers look elsewhere before they have to encounter your sales team. Even then, they much prefer sales reps who don’t apply pressure during the sale or hassle them when following up with leads.
Additionally, there are often more people involved in the business purchase process these days. While younger professionals are tasked with performing research and pulling the trigger, they must receive approval from a series of higher-ups. Thus, attracting and convincing the contact is important, but you must do the same for superiors in the company, too.
How Do You Sell to These Buyers?
In truth, there is no single procedure that will guarantee you a greater volume of B2B sales. Instead, you should be practicing account-based marketing and selling, which allows you to target members within an account and produce dedicated marketing and sales plants to win their business. Account-based strategies look different for each business and each buyer, so it helps to have experts and specialized tools to manage your efforts.
In addition, you should strive to enable your buying audience with information. They are already seeking info about potential solutions, so by offering that info — without the pressure to contact your sales team — you can pull B2B buyers to your online assets, like your website’s blog or social pages. Just by taking advantage of this information, buyers are more likely to remember your business when they prepare to contact potential vendors.
To perform account-based strategies well, you will need to align your marketing and sales teams toward the same goals: increasing brand awareness and increasing deal size, as opposed to getting as many leads as possible to convert. You might have your marketing team educate your sales team on available content, so sales reps can point buyers to these resources for additional information. In turn, your sales force can feed your marketing department data on specific pain points felt by buyers, so the marketing content can be laser-targeted.
B2B sales aren’t the walk in the park they used to be, but that doesn’t mean your business is doomed. By shifting your efforts to accommodate the preferences of the modern buyer, you can win even more accounts than ever before.