Improve the B2B Buying Experience.
Strategies for improving the B2B buying experience constantly changes. However, we're very interested in the B2B buying experience because of the new technologies that influence it. That's why we've written 8 ways to improve the digital B2B buying experience.
With smart tools such as AI recognition and intelligent chatbots, personalizing the buying experience becomes more convenient. Adopting those personalization options for the unique needs of B2B markets is essential to honing the B2B buying experience.
1. Identifying the buyer's "need-recognition" moment
Understanding the full business-to-business buying process is important before you can improve the experience. The B2B process includes many more people.
First, there is a need-recognition that must happen. The business needs to recognize what the company's needs are before a purchase. Salespeople, IT, third parties, or even competitors of the business can help influence the decision.
After, the process of scaling the purchase requirements and determining who the company should work with comes next. A good example is buying a mass quantity of computer systems. Which supplier can help the business acquire 40,000 IT units?
At this stage, the company will look at who their supplier options are, and how they stack up to the scale of the need recognition process. A local computer supplier, like Best Buy, may not have as many units as necessary in stock. Ordering directly from an IT manufacturing and supplier warehouse may be what is needed instead.
2. Recognizing when your company enters the B2B buying process
It is important to recognize the stages a company goes through to reach your company during the buying process. Once their need-recognition is identified, your company will be on a list of potential suppliers for them to contact. Recognizing the moment where your company is approached during the buying process is key to streamlining the sales process.
3. Understand how offline payment options impact the online B2B buying process
Experts commenting on the B2B buying experience for PYMNTS.com news claim that companies should strive to offer “Amazon-like” experiences for the buyer. However, pricing and payments, in the B2B world, look incredibly different than they do in a typical brick and mortar, offline world. PYMNTS news claims that in order to have a successful B2B buying process as similar, one must reproduce it like the average consumer buys offline. For example, offering consumers the option to buy it fully or to pay for products in installments is necessary for large purchases like investing in the latest iPhone.
4. Finding a balance between tools and buyers' needs
The science of the B2B buying experience is a fine balance between smart tools and practical application. B2B marketers are the most critical of the sales experience. It is this expertise that drives B2B marketers to shine at the top of their game in the marketplace.
However, the B2B buying experience is an arduous journey. In the March-April 2017 issue, Harvard Business Review described the B2B buying experience as “hard, painful, deeply uncertain, stressful, a deluge of information, frustrating,” and some described it as “a minefield.”
This issue that HBR noted is that decision-makers spent time waiting for a sales rep before purchase. Suppliers tend to make the sales process too complex because they are focused on what they are selling, rather than the buyers needs'. HBR’s 2017 survey metrics found that the suppliers thought were succeeding in making buying easier.
5. Proactive data gathering and practical application
One issue B2B strategists face is the practical application of data. Either they will gather data and never review it or they will not gather any applicable data at all. By default, tools should have data gathering, and data application, but brands must practically fine-tune this data gathering. B2B strategists have to source data in order for the data to be useful in a real-world buyer’s journey.
6. Full service is the secret
Full service includes the tech that allows the customer to seek full self-service. The idea is to provide as many service avenues as practical and to give the customer a route that makes sense to them. Each buyer has a unique buying process and habits. For example, replacing a chat app for a voice-over walkthrough is not always efficient for all customers.
Some customers may prefer the chat app option to directly communicate with the chatbot and converse with the brand, rather than be told how and why to buy. The customer may have more nuanced or complex interests in the brand than an automatic sales pitch would be able to satisfy the customer's need.
7. Reach above customer expectation
In addition to the practical application of tools, adopt a mentality of reaching above customer expectations. While competitors' tools and tricks are relevant, adopting the mentality that you are seeking to outdo your customers' expectations keeps the focus honed on the customers and less on the competition.
8. B2B buying experience and long-term relationships
Customer loyalty comes from a personal and pleasant buying experience. By using the tools that specifically target an improved B2B buying experience, the B2B sales team builds long term relationships with buyers.