B2B companies are faced with the most transformative era in business history. On a greater scale than that of the first Industrial Revolution over a century ago, we are witnessing a technological and digital revolution that will disrupt business-to-business profoundly in the next 10 years. The scale of which is still unpredictable and undoubtedly will continue to have more disruption in store for businesses over the next decade.
The scale of disruption will mean the B2B buyer and seller dynamic will continue to be rocked. We are seeing many industries feel the impact of new technologies upending previously accepted norms of how business gets done. This is being felt by the supply-chain side of businesses acutely. As traditional supply and value chains are disrupted, upended, and even made extinct by new digital technologies. It is safe to say that no industry or B2B markets will go without some form of disruption affecting buyers and buying behaviors.
More so than in consumer oriented markets, B2B markets had a degree of predictability that companies often relied on. For example, many legacy B2B companies have consistently put forth a tremendous amount of effort and resources into trying to achieve a 2% to 5% bump in annual revenues. Relying on the predictability of long-ago established customers. Relying on this form of internal predictability is no longer possible.
A Time For A Reboot
The realization is setting in for senior executives that the time to develop their buyer insights assets and competencies is becoming mission-critical. Just as well, the realization also has materialized that what has worked in the past, is not working today when it comes to understanding buyers.
B2B companies are struggling to make gaining buyer insights more than the gathering of analytics, buyer intelligence, sales intelligence, and buyer personas couched in factual data. One consistent result indicates that CEO’s are perceiving that they are not getting the critical insights they need. Multiple studies over the past three years from the likes of PwC, Deloitte, Forrester, and IBM indicate that 75% or more of CEO’s are identifying building out competencies in insights as one of their top goals.
A big reason often named is the lack of insights about buyers for the purposes of helping to guide companies through significant transformation and achieving growth.
What B2B senior executives have come to realize is that it is time to reboot how their organizations go about achieving buyer insights that will help to drive growth today and in the future.
What are signs B2B senior executives will know they are in need of a reboot of their buyer insights? Let us examine 5 signs indicating to senior executives it is time to reboot:
Your Buyer Personas Are Outdated
When the first-ever sets of buyer personas were researched and created in 2002, they were done in an era when legacy B2B organizations were dominant in their markets. After conducting well over 3,500 buyer interviews and creating hundreds of buyer personas 15 years later, I can say with certainty – things aren’t what they used to be.
Yet, many B2B organizations are being misled into researching and creating buyer personas as if legacy B2B organizations are still dominant – or – that they have not changed. If your buyer personas are rooted in outdated sales and product marketing paradigms pertaining to role-based perceptions and the feeding of the perpetual content machine – it is time for a reboot.
You Are Working From Old Organizational Hierarchy Perceptions
Digital transformation in B2B is having a major impact on how people interact, solve problems, work together, and ultimately make buying decisions. The legacy issue mentioned previously still permeates the approach of B2B sellers. Whereby the chase continues to get in the C-Suite and get to the perceived ultimate decision-maker. I have seen entire sales and marketing strategy plans that amount to one thing only – get into the C-Suite. B2B organizations, due to digital transformation, are becoming flat and hierarchies of the past are no longer.
Your Views Of Hierarchal Buying Teams And Committees Are Off
Closely related to old perceptions of organizational hierarchies, the concept of buying teams and committees are changing rapidly. As companies become flat organizationally, we are seeing the rise of collaborative teams and units. Analogous to the rise of the self-directed consumer over the past decade, we are beginning to see the rise of self-directed teams working within organizations. Operating and performing outside the purview of traditional hierarchies. With a high degree of independence to make high-stake buying decisions
Your Analytics Tell A Story Of The Past Only
The capabilities to produce analytics has been expanding at an exponential rate. The advent of CRM, Sales Automation, and Marketing Automation has produced voluminous data. At issue is much of analytics remains tactical. Looking at the past histories of sales by variables such as geographies, territories, and various channels. Whereby marketing finds itself analyzing historical trends related to online visits and which content was accessed.
You Have An Internal View Of The Buyer’s Journey
While the concept of a buyer’s journey or customer journey has become somewhat of a buzz in B2B, the majority are still representing an internal view of a buyer’s journey. It is a mapping of all the internal processes taking place with a view of buyers having internal interactions with an organization. With many executives finding such a view inadequate and perhaps detrimental to efforts to aligning with buyers.
Reading Future Signals
In previous articles, I have written about the number of companies, nearly half, of the Fortune 500 and the S&P 500 over the past 20 years who no longer exist or are barely surviving. In the next 10 years, business prognosticators predict that we will see even more changing of the guard. With as many as a quarter to a third of the public companies listed currently not surviving.
To survive, B2B companies will need to become adept at reading future signals. Buyer insights can play an important role in helping B2B businesses understand and predict future strategies that will align with how their buyers are changing. To survive also means rebooting, building, and maturing competencies in buyer insights.
Not maturing buyer insights capabilities can undoubtedly lead to the fate encountered by nearly half of the companies listed on the Fortune 500 or S&P 500 from nearly 20 years ago – no longer existing.
(What follows is an engaging video from Howard Tiersky, CEO of FROM, a New York City-based digital transformation agency. He talks about the value of insights and how the lack of insights is one of the top challenges enterprises face in innovation and transformation.)