In sports, confidence is often mentioned as one of the key ingredients to winning. I saw this firsthand with my daughter and her competitive experience in gymnastics. She attended the same gym as Amy Chow, the U.S. Olympic Gold and Silver Medal winner in the 1996 Olympics. And a team member of the 2000 Olympics. One Saturday, while waiting for my daughter, I watched Amy do a small portion of her routine on the balance beam. Repetitively turning and jumping on the beam for an hour.
When she was done and walked by, I asked her about what she had just been doing. She replied by stating that she was practicing that one routine so that when the moment came in a competition, she would be confident she can do it. And that her teammates will have confidence in her to help get a winning team score.
Confidence is essential in many areas. Including business and the act of buying.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused confidence to wane on the part of business and buyers. It does not take a huge scientific study to see that confidence has been shaken in a lot of industries. The degree of uncertainty that is defining 2020 will continue in 2021. Although promising vaccines on the horizon may improve business outlooks, they may not impact buyer confidence in the same way.
Even industries benefitting from increased demand related to COVID-19 express only temporary confidence. An example from our Center for Buyer Insights Buyer Outlook Study:
“Here’s the thing, while we have seen a tremendous spike, we know it is not normal. That it can turn on a dime. We know that. What worries me is not being able to get a sense of what demand will look like six months out. A year out.” – Vice President, Global Logistics Operations
B2B marketers and sellers will need to recognize that both sides of the demand coin are affected. Businesses experiencing either increases or decreases in demand will have their confidence shaken. At varying degrees and impact.
Building Collective Confidence
In B2B decision-making, confidence has always been a key behavioral element. Attentiveness by B2B marketers and sellers must now be given to building collective confidence.
Buyer decision-making has changed significantly by way of processes, the number of stakeholders, and digital technology. Our buyer insights research engagements over the past few years have shown an increase in stakeholders involved. From an average of 3 to 6 to approximately 5 to 8. Sometimes as many as 10 in large enterprises. What this means is that confidence must now become a shared collective experience.
There has been a tendency to think about confidence in an individual sense. This is natural. Throughout our upbringing, education, and work experiences we have been ingrained to be confident. What is needed now is a mind shift. To thinking about collective confidence. Building collective confidence with as many as 10 stakeholders.
Helping To Convey Confidence
The challenge for B2B marketers and sellers is how to achieve collective confidence. Made more challenging because of COVID-19. Our typical first response is to create content perhaps stacked with statistics. Validating how our product or services does what we say it does. Or, to engage in sales conversations where we are making a business case. A business case presented as irrefutable.
It is not to say these will not be helpful at all in building collective confidence. What this does say is B2B marketers and sellers will first need to gain buyers insights into two areas. What buyers need to build collective confidence internally and how do they convey confidence to multiple stakeholders.
What we have learned in our buyer insights research that buyers respond to getting help. That is, receiving help in their efforts to convey confidence to the entire team. In order to be helpful, we then need insights into what buyers consider helpful and how it is shared collectively.
COVID-19 Ups The Urgency
The pandemic and its impact on collective confidence create urgency for B2B organizations. Despite vaccines on the horizon, we may be experiencing two to four months of very troubling times. Creating more uncertainty and further shaking confidence in the year ahead.
Buyer confidence is an important element in understanding buyers deeply. B2B organizations will need buyer insights to improve their knowledge and capabilities in helping buyers to build collective confidence internally. Which, in turn, will help them build their own collective confidence in building long-lasting loyalty with their buyers.