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Almost 70% of B2B Buyers Want the Consumer Experience - Here's What That Means

 

Even though buyers are yearning for that consumer experience, the buying process for B2B sales is completely different from B2C, making it slightly trickier to replicate the same buying experience. To put that into perspective, Gartner conducted thorough research, which concluded there are six steps in the B2B buying process - and rather than following a linear pattern, buyers loop round these six steps until the buying process finally completes. The six stages are:

  • Problem identification
  • Solution exploration
  • Requirements building
  • Supplier selection
  • Validation
  • Consensus creation

Although the process seems complex - we're consumers ourselves, and we go through similar stages when making B2C sales. We often have a problem, Google a solution, find out how it'll serve us, find a brand, and validate that purchase before sending the money across.

 

The question is, can the consumer experience be replicated, as even though B2B and B2C sales go through similar steps, the B2B buying cycle is far longer with more people involved. Let's explore.

They Want Rewards

Rewards go a long way in B2C sales. The perfect example of rewards-based shopping is with store reward cards - something that the likes of Starbucks do. Coffee lovers get a card stamped or have points added to their online account, which means they work towards a free drink. 

 

You can use the same idea for B2B sales using b2b incentives - but on a massive scale. B2B buyers typically invest large amounts of money and spend weeks in the buying cycle for one product. Plus, research has proven that great experiences and tangible rewards through b2b incentive programs make a more meaningful impression than cashback - rewards like free hampers selected based on what the buyer likes will create a deeper emotional connection.

 

They personalize the shopping experience - and that's what buyers are after. The idea nurtures customer loyalty, and as a company, you're 60 to 70% more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one. 

 

The same study found that 33% of buyers will cease partnering with a supplier because they lack personalization - a b2b loyalty programme from IncentiveSmart (which you can read more about here: https://www.incentivesmart.com/customer-loyalty) provides all the personalization you need, giving you free rein to decide what the rewards are. Across B2B and B2C sales, 77% of people are signed up to some form of rewards program - proving they're enticing and effective.

The Gold Standard Customer Service Experience 

Interestingly, buyers only interact with suppliers for 17% of the entire buying cycle. But when you think back to the fact that they're looping through their buying cycle, some phases don't involve the supplier. But when they do contact the supplier, it's usually with the desire for information that solves a problem. 

 

Gartner conducted a study that concluded buyers are 2.8 more likely to partner with a brand again in the future if the customer service experiences they had made the buying process easier. That's where the gold standard of customer service experience comes in, and some trends can be utilized as they are in B2C - for example, the rise of social media for consumer communication. 

 

B2B buyers are avid researchers, and 55% say they use social media as a way of researching a brand before deciding if they're a match. And, the same study found 84% are heavily influenced by what they see on social media. That leads to the simplest way of acquiring new customers and making their buying cycle easier - keep your social media pages full of useful information that targets buyers.

 

Company and product updates, new launches, and a strong call to action work well on B2B social media posts. Top tip - 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are using LinkedIn, making it one of the best platforms to market your brand and can provide an avenue for buyer communication during the buying cycle. 

They Want Modern Marketing

Staying along the lines of social media - buyers want a similar, personalized marketing experience that shows tailored ads for them. Tailored ads show buyers the solution to their problem - the second step in the buying cycle. Thanks to the rise of marketing automation software, personalized content is easy to produce. AI can scour personal information such as buyer browsing and shopping habits and enables you to create tailored ads based on that. 

 

Consider social media — using the tips provided above — and email marketing as your primary marketing methods. 84% of B2B organizations currently use email marketing - and it's the best for return of investment. For every $1 spent, you're likely to make $42 in return. However, they should be targeted emails that focus on that all-important personalization. Think extra personal, like putting the right name at the top of an email rather than a generic hello.

 

Over the coming years, we're likely to see a shift in the B2B buying experience that brings it more in line with that of B2C - putting the b first buyer first rather than grouping them as one company. Buyers are starting to demand easier buying experiences with fewer steps, better communication, and more exciting rewards. 

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