It used to be easy to differentiate between B2B and B2C buyer behaviour, but much has changed. If you don’t keep up with the changes or adapt your sales and marketing techniques to take account of the transformations, then you might find your business in trouble.
The majority of the shift has taken place within the last ten years and most of this has been as a result of the internet. Google has even given a name to that very important Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) that occurs when a buying decision is made online. Now both business and consumer buyers use online searches to find what they want and to decide whether or not to choose your brand. With this in mind, paying attention to this pivotal point is vital.
The times they are a changin’
Fading into oblivion are the days when you would make a plethora of cold calls to people you had picked out of the phone book, using your verbal powers of persuasion to get them to choose your product, irrespective of the fact that they had never heard of it before. This was not only gruelling and hard work but also very hit and miss whilst not doing much to enhance the brand of your business. Nowadays, B2B buyer behaviour is very much aligned with online searching with an average buyer conducting approximately 12 searches before they even begin to engage with a selected brand.
With B2B behaviour changing so radically, the control is now lying very much with the buyer with their demands and expectations rising accordingly. As far as they are concerned, they require businesses to provide them with detailed information, brand consistency, reliability and communication and involvement; and all of this before they even think of making a purchase. But don’t make the mistake of bombarding potential buyers with too much information as this can work the other way and put them off. It is all about building relationships, even if they are mainly digital ones.
Integrated marketing saves the day
If this is sounding rather worrying, then you are right to be concerned. However, being aware of this B2B change in behaviour is half way towards solving the problem and by bringing integrated marketing into the arena, you can be well on the way to moving forward. This involves creating a way for would-be clients to interact with you without feeling overwhelmed or receiving a barrage of content that is of no use. Integrated marketing does as much as it sounds; it provides a mix of touch points across a varied marketing mix over several channels. This can be whatever you like – email, phone, social media or events. All you need to know is that 49% of buyers say that they rely on content to guide them more than they did a year ago. 78% of people will examine 3+ items of content before talking to someone in sales.
But this does not mean that there is any one specific way that you should build your brand awareness or bolt down your lead pipeline. However, one thing that you should not do is concentrate on just one single way of communicating. Not only is this ‘out of fashion’ but also incredibly unproductive and inept. Buyers have so much choice now, they can be as fussy as they like. If you don’t take the opportunity when it presents itself to connect with them and begin to build a relationship, they will soon go elsewhere. Research has revealed that 66% of people expect communication with sellers to be personal. At the same time, 65% felt that sellers needed to do more to align their customer engagement with the buyer’s needs and preferences.
Focus on adding the human touch
But where does telemarketing fit into this? Is it now a redundant method of marketing? The answer is no. In fact, if telemarketing is used in a complimentary way rather than the prime method, it can bring about a high level of engagement compared to mail or email. Buyers want to buy from ‘people’. Bringing into play personalisation and the human touch are vital if businesses want to begin to build valued relationships with prospects. Whilst it cannot be seen as a total solution, picking up the phone and talking is still a wonderful way of building rapport. This cannot and should not be your only marketing channel but by using it in a complementary way, your marketing mix can be given a shot of personalised adrenalin.
Whether you are selling a product or a service, stop telling others how amazing your offering is and show them why. Illustrate the value and make it count. If you want to kill a potential sale, hit them with a cold sales pitch and watch as they run. This can no longer work.
Understand your customers
You need to understand and get inside the head of your customer. Analyse their behaviour on your website by using Google Analytics to see which pages they visit and where they stay for the longest. Study the forensics. Create customer avatars so that you have a good idea of who you are selling to. Before the internet came into existence it was tough to evaluate your product feedback or to find out how it was received. Then direct feedback and word-of-mouth were essential. Now things have changed dramatically. Social media allows product reviews to be left and when specific review sites are used, people can immediately see how your business rates. You need to do all possible to keep those five star reviews and feedbacks coming in or see them drop at your peril.
Show that you care
And once the sale is made, don’t think that you can sit back and count the pennies. Even after purchase, you need to be seen to be giving something still, particularly if you want to be kept in mind for buying decisions in the future. This could be giving them something exclusive such as a discounted price going forward or simply a direct way of getting in touch with you if they need something more. Show them that you care and that you really do value their loyalty and they will keep coming back for more.
Selling B2B nowadays is not just about taking the money but reciprocating and making it very clear that you regard your customers as important. Show your appreciation in various ways. By attaching importance to the relationship between you, those B2B buyers will stick like glue. As customer relationships grow, so will your business.