Traditional business-to-business buying involved two things: wooing customers at live events and buying ads in hopes of hitting the jackpot. Between the digital revolution and a younger demographic dictating new buying trends, things are not so straightforward anymore.
Now there are more players than ever and many more layers to the B2B buying process. The way buyers conduct their research and make purchasing decisions has changed with the times, as well. MarketingProfs reported that millennial B2B buyers want to interact directly with vendors’ representatives far more than Gen X or baby boomer buyers when researching products and services. If you’ve been out of the game for a while, expect to see three major factors affecting the field:
- Digital impacts on buying
If you’re assuming your top B2B relationships function differently from those of your B2C customers, you could be missing out on crucial sales opportunities. The emergence of online tools has added a new level of research to almost every financial decision for B2B and B2C customers alike. These days, we can expect B2B customers be more prepared than ever with research they’ve conducted on their own. For instance, B2B marketers are turning to online communities like TrustRadius to help them evaluate the latest software, just as a B2C would reach out to customers through review sites.
- Personalization and social media
Generally, B2B companies place a higher value on educational formats like blogs and webinars, whereas consumer businesses are slightly more willing to experiment with advanced digital formats. Older buyers still rely on tradeshows, articles and reviews to research vendors. But B2B marketers are taking a more personalized approach and are turning to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with their customers. As MarketingProfs noted in a separate article, they’re putting more efforts toward attributing and weigh touch points in the B2B cycle. Likewise, B2B customers today expect more personal touches from their B2B vendors.
- Content-based marketing
Those who fail to grasp the potential of content marketing are missing out. B2B brands have to work hard to instill a culture of content, B2B Marketing explained. Content is being embedded as a discipline throughout marketing departments and entire organizations. As a result, more people are taking on content creation to highlight and advertise the company’s activities and expertise.
These changes could help explain why sales cycles have increased in recent years. With more decision-makers involved in the buying process, B2B vendors and marketers have their work cut out for them.