Marketing and Sales Leaders Can Leverage Buyer Insights To Create Rewarding Digital Buying Experiences For Buyers
One significant outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increasing desire on the part of buyers for digital buying experiences. Not that this type of outcome was ever in question. The capability to offer digital buying experiences was already anticipated to be of importance by the end of the decade. The pandemic has turned this forecast into a definitely now reality.
This new reality will put added pressure on CMOs and CSOs to coordinate strategies impacting the development of digital buying experiences. It is the type of development B2B organizations will have to attain deep buyer insights about if they hope to accelerate their revenue growth. At least have a chance to.
What has become evident in the past 14-16 months is B2B buying has undergone radical change. You can say that it has traveled from “shock and awe” to a new preference to buy digital-first if they can. Buyers have adapted fairly well to the idea of digital-first and remote buying. McKinsey recently shared that 70-80% of B2B decision-makers preferred remote human interactions or digital self-service.
I am using the term “digital-first” for a reason. There has been a subtle shift in buying behavior I’ve detected in recent in-depth buyer interviews. It sounds like this from a VP, Operations I interviewed:
“I love it! Look, some of the reps I have interacted with before are nice people. Don’t get me wrong. But from now on I will check first if there is a way I or my team can just get what I need online without having to talk to anyone.”
If you unpack that quote just a little, what you hear her saying is she will be checking each and every time if she can go about “buying” digital-first. Digital only. No humans involved, please. This is a significant buying behavior shift.
The questions related to this buying behavior shift are simply straightforward: Are you ready? If not, are you planning to get ready?
In today’s new reality and a new era for B2B, planning for and differentiating on digital buying experiences will become a new frontier in the future of buying. What is clear is that buyers are not going to go back to the way it was. This changes a lot about how and what we know about buyers. Some of the assumptions being made about the buyer’s journey and even the internal buying processes of buyers are sounding very antiquated. For instance, many companies are still wedded to old funnel thinking first presented by Elmo Lewis over a century ago!
It is assumptions about the buying journey, I believe, that lead to a number of issues causing angst to sales and marketing leaders. Lack of opportunities, lost customers, losing deals, inability to generate leads or inability to capture the attention of buyers. To name a few.
To address the angst, marketing and sales leaders should count on gaining buyer insights about the change in buying behaviors. As well as about the preference shift for a digital buying experience.
There are four areas marketing and sales leaders can gain insights into that will help them make informed decisions on what to drop and how to move forward:
1 – Avoid and drop assumptions
The first step is to just drop the assumptions about buyers and try to understand the changes your buyers have made in the past 15-16 months. It is time to update your buyer personas on how such changes are impacting their goals, issues, and challenges. And their buying behaviors.
2 – Step back and drop the buying journey label for a moment
Rather than dive into the minutiae of the buyers’ journey, step back and look at the whole buying experience first. And certainly, drop antiquating views of the funnel.
3 – Focus on buyer interaction design (BxD)
Employ design thinking to arrive at how buyer insights can help you to design better digital buying interactions for your target buyer personas. Make the first digital buying interaction a cornerstone on delivering differentiating experiences.
4 – Be practical with digital first
Although buyers may indicate a preference for digital-first and digital-only, it can be impractical for your business. It will mean that you will need to build out a hybrid between digital and human interaction. Interactions that create a rewarding overall digital buying experience for the buyer. Experiences that help bring personalization to life.
Obtaining critical buyer insights into these four areas will help you to address how to differentiate by delivering a unique digital buying experience. Buyers are waiting for it.