Against the backdrop of the crisis phenomena and challenges of recent years, there is an incredible shift in the paradigm and behavior of potential B2B clients. What do they expect from us?
They want a solution to their specific problem. This means that the client expects not just a conversation but that you know what problems and tasks they face in their business and emphasize how your product can solve these issues.
They tend to make communication decisions with the brand at later stages.
They expect hyper-localized content. This means that you should create highly localized content for the client. It’s important for the client that you understand the specific conditions in which they work. You should talk specifically about their city, district, street, building, and of course, about them and their company.
They consider omnichannel communication as something obvious. This trend is also only getting stronger. We communicate extensively using smartphones, laptops, tablets, even watches, and use a variety of messaging and communication services. The client won’t understand if you refuse to communicate with them in the format that is most convenient for them at a given moment.
Taking all of this into account, we need to understand how modern clients make decisions in B2B sales.
This process has also undergone significant changes. According to Forrester research, decisions used to be made by one or two individuals – the traditional “Decision Maker” and the “Influencer.” Now, 4 or more individuals are involved in making decisions. According to Forrester, 63% of companies operate this way. This complicates our task because now we need to convince more people of the product’s benefits.
However, there are advantages to this situation. If you manage to convince all of these people, you can more reliably keep the company as your client. Previously, there was a critical dependence on one person. If that person left the company or changed their mind, it often meant losing the client. But if the decision is made by a whole team, the change of one player will have less impact on the overall situation.
Let’s take a look at who these people are. Forrester research can help us with that:
Senior management – 72%. This point is quite clear. These are the decision-makers. Convincing them is a significant part of the job.
Influencers – 56%. These are the people who directly influence the decisions made by the managers. Of course, in different companies, these could be different individuals. It’s important to determine who they are in each specific case.
Budget holder – 55%. In this research, budget holders have their own position for cases when they are not the same people as the influencers or senior management.
Users – 50%. These are the ones who actually order the purchase of solutions for their work.
Procurement – 37%. In this case, it refers to the department or departments responsible for purchasing goods or services for the business.
There have been significant changes in how B2B clients go through the buying process. Specifically, this concerns the point at which they desire to start communicating with a seller. Let’s review the main stages that a client goes through in their interaction with a brand:
Awareness – Recognizing the problem.
Discovery – Investigating the problem.
Evaluation – Developing solutions for the problem.
Intent – The desire to purchase something to solve the problem.
Buy – Making the purchase.
Repeat purchase – Repeated purchases.
If in the past, the first meeting between a potential client and a seller typically took place during the Discovery stage, nowadays clients prefer communication somewhere between the Evaluation and Buy stages. According to Google, 80% of the buying journey is now completed independently by the client.
Furthermore, according to Gartner, 33% of clients wish to entirely avoid interaction with a seller. While in the past, websites often featured a “Don’t call me” window where clients could opt out of phone calls, now the norm is a “Contact me” window. By default, it is assumed that interaction with a seller is an additional option.
What can we advise in this context? It’s clear that aggressively imposing yourself on a client is not very effective. Actions resembling those of a door-to-door salesman knocking on every door or offering their product to passersby are more likely to repel clients in our time. It’s better to focus on the content and quality of the materials that clients will study on their own. Evaluate whether your content appears in Google search results, how it looks compared to competitors’ offers, whether it is clear and appealing, whether there are errors, and whether the information is regularly updated. It’s highly desirable for your presentations to be vivid, original, and interactive – in a word, engaging. Content should be the driving force that leads the client to communicate with you.
I must draw your attention to a crucial point. The above means that when a modern client approaches you, it means they are almost ready to make a purchase. They already want you to convince them to part with their money. Your task now is to seal the deal, but it must be done very carefully.
In this regard, understanding the rules of the game of “ping-pong” with the client will help you. One of the prevailing phenomena we observe is the sharp increase in interactions between buyers and sellers from the moment of introduction to the conclusion of an agreement – from 17 in 2017 to 27 in the current year (Forrester). And this involves the exchange of short messages and communications. Modern clients find it convenient to communicate in this way, solving one question or part of a question at a time. This format has been given the conditional name “ping-pong between the seller and the client.”
Considering this, you should understand that you need to constantly fight for the client’s attention, not allowing them to lose interest in you. No “sent an email with proposals or documents for review and forgot for a few days.” If you are genuinely interested in the client, find a reason to reach out to them at least every day, or even more frequently. No one will warm up the lead and keep it hot for you.
While working on this, remember the extremely important trend mentioned by Gartner – Customer Everywhere. I deliberately did not translate this term because, in my opinion, it is very expressive in English. It means what I’ve already mentioned – potential clients, like most people in the world, use many communication channels, communicating through dozens of messengers, social networks, chats, and other channels of modern fast communication. They expect the same from brands. They no longer want to write official business emails – not just paper ones, but electronic ones too. Clients want the option to contact the brand and receive a response in a format that is convenient for them through the channel they have chosen, such as their favorite messenger. If they are not given this opportunity, most of them won’t bother looking for the brand’s email address on the website. They will be surprised and simply move on to competitors.
In summary, I would like to point out that working with clients in the coming years will become even more technologically advanced. More flexibility, speed, and adaptability will be the motto of successful sellers. It’s high time, if you haven’t already, to think about acquiring the appropriate tools to meet these challenges. Tools such as our service and presentation application, ROI4Presenter.
Wishing you all success, great clients, and high revenues!
Author: Victoria Abed – Chief Revenue Officer at ROI4Presenter
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