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How B2B sellers can maintain buyer engagement

The gap between B2B buyers and sellers increases, according to CSO Insights, the research division of
Miller Heiman Group.

His survey of 500 B2B buyers of large and medium-sized enterprises worldwide gave the following results:

  • More than 70% of B2B buyers preferred to wait until the seller hired a salesperson until the seller demonstrated a clear understanding of his needs.
  • Nearly 58 percent of buyers saw little difference among sellers;
  • More than 10% saw no difference among salespeople; and
  • Only 23% of buyers considered sellers sellers as a preferred resource to solve problems.

Vendors are seen as product representatives and not as problem solvers, so buyers first expect that they would like to know more about a specific solution, suggest the results of the survey. # 39; investigation. This limits the sellers to specific stages of the buying process, making them difficult to differentiate from the competition.

"The big change in buyer behavior is that buyers previously needed vendors to provide information about solutions," said Seleste Lunsford, chief executive of
CSO Outlook.

"The advent of the Web began to change that, and subsequent developments in the depth and detail of information available online have made it unnecessary to talk to sellers early in the decision-making process," she said. she told the E-Commerce Times. "Then, consumerization has changed the expectations of buyers."

The roots of the problem

"Convenience is the main reason why B2B sourcing agents opt for self-service rather than for live sellers," said Scott E. Webb, president of
Avionos.

Digital capabilities enable businesses to operate 24/7, and "consumers have taken full advantage of these flexible hours," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Now, as [business-to-consumer] models infiltrate the B2B world, these buyers are expecting the same flexibility in the purchase of their business."

In addition, making simple and repeated purchases via self-service systems is a faster process, "so it's definitely an attractive option for buyers," Webb said.

Artificial intelligence engines and machine learning have allowed consumers to obtain recommendations tailored to their preferences, found CSO Insights. On the other hand, B2B sellers must inquire about their customers at their first meeting.

Internet companies are seeing a business opportunity with artificial intelligence-based technologies replacing sellers, according to the survey results. Already, people can buy for $ 250 million or more complex industrial equipment on Alibaba, for example.

In the end, product reviews, recommendations and prospects for even complex B2B purchases, such as commercial hydro systems, will become as commoditized as those for consumer products, according to CSO Insights forecasts.

Other causes of the growing buyer-seller divide:

  • The increasing workload of sales teams, which leaves them little time to search for new customers and learn more about them;
  • High expectations for buyer-seller interactions
  • The increasing workload of buyers, which leaves them little time for human interactions; and
  • Obsolete account management method, which puts more emphasis on sales than on after-sales services and does not sufficiently integrate sales and service functions.

"Sales and service must be aligned with what they communicate to the customer," Lunsford said. "The two representatives say what they've been taught to say … and the customer is frustrated because the service representative contradicts the sales representative."

The tortuous buying process, which often involves up to six people on the buyer's side, further complicates things for the sellers.

Trust questions

"Buyers find first-hand and third-party sources of information that are more influential and trustworthy than sellers' sellers," said Julie Neumann, director of content at
TrustRadius.

Buyers who are more honest and open about their products are more likely to close the deal, suggest TrustRadius surveys of more than 650 technology buyers and suppliers on the B2B buying process.

"All the resources provided by suppliers were at the bottom of the barrel for influence and trust," Neumann told the E-Commerce Times. Vendor representatives ranked 11th out of 15 for influence and trust, although they are the fifth most used resources.

Sales teams stay alive

While self-service is starting to play a bigger role in the buying process, sales reps have turned from order takers to trusted advisors to buyers, Avionos' Webb notes.

"Sales teams will never be eliminated," he said. "Their roles and responsibilities just change."

The role of trusted advisor "means that salespeople can save time by eliminating monotonous tasks such as basic order entry and reinvesting that time in more strategic conversations with existing customers and new prospects."

Organizations can benefit from a combination of sales facilitation and global changes in various areas, suggested by CSOs, including sales processes, management execution, technology stacks and hiring profiles.

"Organizations can and must undergo massive revisions when their survival is at stake," Lunsford said. The problems and the solutions are real. We never say it will be easy. "

Other steps that sellers can take

"First of all, make sure that buyers can directly discover your product and help them determine whether or not it is suitable for use," advises Neumann of TrustRadius.

Vendors must be open and genuine in their own marketing assets and in their interactions with prospects, she warned. They must also take advantage of the sources of information that buyers already find influential and trustworthy.

"Connect buyers to your customers," suggests Neumann. "Most buyers have an extensive network of colleagues who have experience of all the technologies they envision, or even use case, but they feel that the case studies and the references provided by suppliers are less reliable and less influential than third parties. party resources such as peer reviews and referrals. "


Richard Adhikari has been a reporter at ECT News Network since 2008. His fields of intervention are cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, the software development, the central and midrange computer. and the development of applications. He has written and edited for many publications, including Information Week and Computerworld . He is the author of two books on client / server technology.
Email Richard.

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