The B2B buyer journey has been rapidly evolving. Here’s what B2B sales and marketing professionals can expect in 2017.
The B2B Buyer is Smarter
The B2B buyer has become very sophisticated in how they conduct research online using digital channels. The buyer’s search is not limited to Google. The buyer also searches LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. They search hashtag streams and product reviews. In Facebook and LinkedIn, buyers might join groups and participate in discussions and/or observe the conversations as well as the people who engage in these groups. The B2B buyer in a group is astutely looking for resources to help their buying journey. Those resources include people.
The B2B Buyer is More Millennial
Nearly half the U.S. workforce is millennial and by 2025 millennials will comprise 75 of the workforce. Remember that millennial age runs through early to mid 30s. In addition to younger executives in decision making roles, many B2B support staffers are millennial. This is a demographic who is adept at using digital channels both personally and professionally. Therefore, their first line of engagement is digital. Don’t expect to call this person or to respond to an email. Rather, you’re more likely to engage through a Twitter DM or a LinkedIn message or a text message.
The B2B Buyer is Video Centric
All the social media channels are increasingly becoming more video centric. Have you noticed how videos are prominent in your Facebook stream? Instagram and Snapchat are video centric. You can upload video content to LinkedIn. And, of course YouTube is the king of video. Live video on Facebook and Periscope is an easy way for buyers to consume relevant content.
The B2B buyer in 2017 is already predisposed to consuming video content. Don’t depend on your company to produce all the video to reach your buyer. Get guidelines from marketing on the video content you can produce through social media.
Some examples of video you can produce include video summary points that were delivered in webinars produced by your company, or video excerpts from company executive’s speeches, etc. Consider producing short video “cold calls” that are customized for an individual you want to reach. Deliver it as a DM or text to a password-protected YouTube channel. This is just one idea. Find creative ways to use video to reach your B2B buyer.
The Three Phases of the B2B Buyer Journey
During the research phase, the buyer is gathering information and wants to remain invisible. She doesn’t want to talk with salespeople yet because she hasn’t yet determined the final list of potential vendors. Talking to sales people could be a waste of time in the research phase….Unless…..You supply information to the buyer that legitimately inserts you into her research.
Once the buyer has determined a short list of potential vendors, she is ready to engage with them. Even if your company is on the short list, it’s still very important that you are digitally qualified to engage with the buyer. Chances are the buyer has come across people during her evaluation phase that made an impression – some good, some bad. You want to be someone who has made a good impression through your well written social profile and by being a source of relevant content and relevant engagement.
If you were visible to the buyer during her research phase, you have a greater chance of being engaged by the buyer when she is ready. You have a better chance of being perceived as a trusted resource by the buyer.
In the final selection stage, you don’t want to be closing the deal based solely on price. If you and your company created a good experience for the buyer during the journey and you’ve established value, winning the deal will not be dependent on price alone. Establishing value should’ve started way back in the evaluation phase.
Your sales process in 2017 should be focused on creating a great experience for the buyer considering these attributes of how she wants to proceed on the journey. The successful B2B sellers in 2017 will engage on the buyer’s terms, levering social media and content every step of the way.
This article originally appeared in Social Business Engine.
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