B2B Articles - February 16, 2023
By Eddie Becker, Content Specialist
Whether it’s pivoting during a pandemic or navigating an uncertain economy and possible recession, B2B companies need to be creative in their selling tactics to convert leads into customers. For most businesses, this means incorporating digital strategies they haven’t used before.
Almost every company had to make changes to stay afloat during the Covid pandemic and meet their buyers changing preferences. According to McKinsey, 70-80% of B2B decision-makers indicated a strong preference for remote sales interactions and self-service functionality.1 Those preferences aren’t solely based on safety but on the convenience a digital, self-serve marketplace offers.
That same research found that over 50% of buyers are willing to spend $50,000 or more on products/services through remote or self-service channels. This digitization trend includes the buyer’s desire for an omnichannel purchasing experience. Sales roles continue to hybridize, mixing video calls, phone calls, online interactions, and in-person visits.
But these sales roles aren’t limited to humans. Customer service has been dramatically impacted recently, with numerous businesses utilizing technology more often to communicate with prospective buyers. According to Moneypenny, an outsourced communication provider based in the U.K., live chat increased for some industries by as much as 206% during the pandemic.2 Whether automated or managed by humans, online chat has grown exponentially as a preferred option for many customers.
It’s not you. It’s them.
As more buyers shift their purchasing habits to digital methods, companies are forced to pivot and adapt or lose sales. On average, 43% of baby boomers, gen X, and millennials prefer a rep-free buying experience.3 The days of bringing prospects into the office for a visit or meeting over dinner or drinks are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
In fact, by 2050, Gartner predicts that 80% of sales interactions between suppliers and customers will take place via digital channels.4 Seller-driven purchasing has shifted to buyer-driven. Buyers are creating their own path to get what they’re looking for, doing their own research instead of relying on a sales rep for information. Companies not leaning into a digitized sales process that uses rich, informative content may find themselves left behind.
For B2B companies that haven't figured out how to marry their sales force with the digital space, here are some techniques to help turn leads into customers.
Businesses will market themselves through their great products, exceptional service, or subject matter expertise. These components are essential, but marketing using intent data is critical.
Intent data shows businesses what potential customers search for based on third-party data. A company might be a leader in the SaaS industry, but their customers are finding their business because they searched for “software to track customer engagement”. A company could be a disaster restoration service that’s been around for decades, but customers find their business by searching “repairing a flood-damaged warehouse roof.”
Justin Withers, SVP of Product Strategy and Marketing at Zoom Info says, “Organizations that can collect and use online intent data can reach buyers much earlier in the process, guiding their decision-making before a competitor even knows about the prospect’s interest.”5 Intent data helps businesses better understand customers’ pain points and better market to those pains.
Many B2B businesses are selling a high-quality service or product that’s relatively costly. The value of such a product is best conveyed with a demonstration. A SaaS business, for example, would benefit from giving a personalized demonstration to a client, pointing out specific software features that solve the buyer’s pain points. Demonstrations targeting the specific needs of the buying groups provides more profound value than simply pointing them to a web page or having a phone call to describe the product. Creating a video demonstration that leads can share with their buying group creates even more value.
Showing a prospective buyer a product demo does two critical things. Of course, it proves that a particular service/product solves the buyer’s problem. But the other facet of a demonstration is the opportunity to build trust with the buyer, being willing to answer questions and cover the components of the product that are most applicable to the client.
If a company’s salespeople aren’t talking to the whole buying team, they will miss out on important perspectives, unseen needs, and unspoken goals. Understanding the concerns of the different departments represented will help businesses speak to the buyer's various pain points.
A company’s marketing team can develop content that helps buying groups make a decision. This could include collateral that speaks to someone from finance and IT. Supporting the needs of various departments increases the opportunity to earn the client’s business.
In some of Ironpaper’s recent research, we discovered that 51% of B2B decision makers believe the most common reason potential customers drop out of the sales process is either a) they don’t understand the value of the product/service or b) the price of the product/service offered is too high.
Find more insights from Ironpaper's B2B market research here.
As we stated earlier, it’s critical to understand buyers’ pain points and speak directly to those pain points in the sales process. The best way to help buyers reconcile the price and value of a product is by focusing on how it solves their challenges and can help them address their goals.
1McKinsey & Company, “These eight charts show how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever”, October, 2020
2Moneypenny, “Study shows increase in live chat usage during lockdown”, June 16, 2020
3Gartner, “2022 Strategic Roadmap for B2B Selling”, December 14, 2021
4Gartner, “The Future of Sales”, 2020
5Zoom Info, Justin Withers, “What Is Intent Data? Insights Beyond the 4 Corners of a Website”
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