Gartner has done recently number of research on buying trends. In this three part blog series, I draw conclusions from a few B2B sales-themed articles published by Gartner that I read recently. They addressed the key trends in B2B sales today and how B2B sales has changed last couple of years and will change in future.
According to Gartner, the new generation of buyers, millennials, buy with data. This is important fact to consider because 50% of B2B buyers today already belong to the millennials generation (born around 1978-1995, the definition of years of birth varies) and the number of buyers of this generation is naturally growing. My idea in these three blogs is to highlight a few key points from Gartner’s materials and suggest possible solutions to them.
Links to Gartner articles are at the end of this post.
Enjoy your reading! Thanks, Tuomas
P.S. We can continue the discussion on this topic in any media or collaboration tool, please just contact me from here!
Part 1: The new generation of buyers do not trust the salespeople but want to acquire and analyze the information related to the investment / purchasing by themselves. How can a company support buying in a B2B business in the 2020s?
According to Gartner, a new generation of buyers (millennials) does not rely on vendors’ sales speech, but obtains information about the solution to be purchased and its vendors primarily directly online. Therefore, if you are not easily accessible online in you webpage and other forums, you are not serving the buyer. This is a bit the same as with missing web pages twenty years ago. Today, transparency and ease of use of information are key issues in serving the customer. Without a customer-centric operation model and a smart sales channel, you will not be competitive company. For sure, one of your competitors will operate with just this smart customer-oriented operating model and service channels, and thus force others into the same model.
In general, today buyers spend 2/3 of their time of procurement processes independently to obtain information when looking for possible solutions and making supplier comparisons. In total, customers give suppliers only 17% of the total time spent on procurement! And this is a total time spend for suppliers, i.e. time is shared with all other potential suppliers. For salespeople who are used to getting a lot of attention and face time from a customer, this is a painful fact and forces them to think of new ways of working.
A smart sales channel – a sales portal for customer information acquisition is one of the best ways to let buyers get to know the possible solutions and on information of the supplier in general. In an intelligent sales channel, various tools can be used to assess the customer requirements for use on the basis of very complex and precise technical data, and based on this data even to make a preliminary solution directly. With the help of various customer identification tools related to the sales portal, the company is able to intelligently collect high-quality sales leads for solution sales, which contain accurate information about the customer’s needs.
Based on such information, it is very good to contact the customer and start working on the quote for the customer. It is also easier to make a quote when the customer has already received technical information about the needs at the beginning of the sales process.
Buyers have access to a large amount of information – how can you, as a salesperson, support your customer’s information acquisition?
A lot of information is available today. According to a Gartner survey, 88% of B2B buyers feel that they have received top-quality information during the purchasing process. However, only 25% of buyers say that the top quality information obtained led to the actual purchase, which the buyer are completely satisfied with. Buyers feel they are receiving a lot of well-founded information, which, however, is contradictory to their satisfaction on made decisions based on that information. Buyers see that they need a lot of consultation help to handle information so that buyers can best find the solution that works best for them. According to a Gartner study, high-quality information production to the customer leads to up to 4.5 times higher probability of a positive purchase decision by the buyer.
Currently, the buyer takes a lot of time to gather and go through the information. The amount of information also makes current purchasing processes much more complex, and buying takes much longer in the past. The buyer’s path can wander erratically and the buyer returns a lot of time as well as resources to make the purchase.
An intelligent sales channel can provide quality information to the customer in a relevant and easy way. First, a digital sales channel can map out the right information about a customer’s need. Against this well-understood need, the supplier is able to deliver information on the right solutions, through an intelligent sales channel, even automatically if wanted.
A well thought out sales process can be modeled smoothly into a smart digital sales channel. This, of course, requires the use of a flexible sales application so that it can then really be adapted to truly fit into the company’s sales process. The intelligent digital sales channel enables the smooth adjustment of the sales process so that the company can provide the customer a service in the best possible way digitally and in person.
So how do you best help your customer:
- The customer wants to obtain the information directly online – Enable the customer to find the right information in the smart digital sales channel.
- The customer feels that they are receiving high-quality but contradictory information – Help by consulting the customer to understand the information and find the right facts for just that customer need.
- The customer wants different information at different stages of the procurement process – Provide the customer with easy access to just the right information at the right time.
Blog part 2: How do you support the customer’s complex purchasing process? What can a salesperson to do for customer to support buying in a B2B business in the 2020s?
Blog part 3: Buyers are looking for service from several sources – How do you serve best as a salesperson when your customer is buying?
Links to Gartner materials referenced in this article: