Customer buying dynamics are undergoing huge transformations across all industries, and the B2B buying process is no exception. What may have worked well in the past, simply might not cut it in the hyper-connected, super-integrated, customer-focused present.
Keep up with the evolving B2B purchasing process by considering these three insights:
1. Sell your B2B products and services through online marketplaces.
Historically, online marketplaces have been more relevant to the B2C purchasing process than the B2B purchasing process. This is partly because the B2B sales process can be longer and more complex than simply buying a pair of sneakers from Amazon.
However, sophisticated marketplace technology and the evolving B2B buying process means that more and more B2B technology purchases are taking place through marketplaces. In fact, Jay McBain predicts that “17% of the $3.5 trillion that businesses and governments spend on technology may go through marketplaces as quickly as this year.”
Staying competitive in the Decade of the Ecosystem means giving your customers the buying experience they expect. Modern B2B customers want to be able to browse listings, compare prices and providers, submit briefs, collaborate on proposals, discuss project details in a private comms portal, sign deals, and make payments, all within the same marketplace infrastructure.
What’s more, launching your own ecommerce-enabled B2B marketplace where your partners and resellers can sell their services alongside your own brings a host of additional benefits:
· A slick marketplace can differentiate you from your competitors. Special features like Customer Portals, digital proposals, and the ability to make milestone payments can take your B2B customer experience to the next level.
· A marketplace selling a range of products and services from a range of resellers and partners helps attract and delight new customers.
· Private marketplaces allow you to easily and smoothly connect your customers with an array of accredited partners.
2. Tailor your B2B sales process to target Millennials.
According to a TrustRadius survey, 60% of B2B tech buyers in 2021 are Millennials. This means that Millennials are in the driving seat of the B2B purchasing process, and selling effectively means tailoring your approach to target this cohort.
· Millennials are digital natives who value the ability to self-serve online and independently find and compare products and services (see our point above on marketplaces).
· They value customer reviews and are influenced by independent community groups and forums found on social media, so spending time building online communities will help grow your customer base.
· They prefer making purchases online with their smartphones, so always optimize the purchase process for mobile.
· Millennials are accustomed to superb B2C customer experiences, so focus on providing an equally killer B2B customer experience.
3. Meet complex customer needs by embracing a solution aggregation strategy across your channel ecosystem.
The modern B2B purchasing process sees buyers looking for complete, end-to-end solutions from vendors and suppliers. This means that staying relevant requires finding ways to meet your B2B customers’ complex needs by delivering multi-vendor solutions built on deep integrations across your ecosystem.
For example, solution aggregation could take the form of pre-packaging your tech product along with the services of value-added resellers, thereby providing a software subscription, training, tech support, professional services, and even hardware all in one ready-to-go package. Microsoft is a great example of a company embracing a solution aggregation strategy to great effect, particularly in the IoT realm. “When you think about the value chain across IoT, it usually takes anywhere between 10-40 partners to implement an edge to cloud IoT solution – that’s going from the original piece of hardware all the way to the cloud,” says GM of Microsoft’s global channel sales and IoT Nicole Denil. Denil explains that Microsoft uses solution aggregators to work with system integrators, software vendors, hardware vendors, and other manufacturers to create all-in-one solutions that are then delivered across various verticals, including manufacturing, retail, and healthcare.