Old ways of doing business towards businesses (B2B) are dying out at an accelerated pace due to a pandemic that has changed the way we do business. In this remote world, corporate clients are no longer willing to wait weeks or months for a transactional relationship to occur. They often want their user experience to be as streamlined as a business-to-consumer (B2C) transaction, which includes instant value and equal instant payment and delivery.
Moving away from blindfold and holding hands in B2B sales
Previously, sales relationships for high-value corporate clients involved a lot of touch points to move potential customers through the sales funnel. Webinars, technical manuals, calls for disclosure, initial procedures - all created with the intention of establishing "know, like, trust" points of contact and strengthen the chances of a closed sale. Documents with a “blindfold” were also shared en masse, without a comprehensive understanding of the customer as a person.
Today’s corporate client rarely has the time or liking for such a lengthy process with Sherlock levels of investigation to get answers to basic questions. Today's customer is a hero who chooses his adventure, chooses and researches himself and often does not consult a sales expert.
And while the backdrop of the pandemic has changed consumer experiences, accelerating e-commerce and drop-ship business, the continuity between Sunday night and Monday morning driven by work from home has created an equal shift in shopping at work. The modern B2B client is moving towards a consumer buying model, so we as service providers need to learn how to bridge the gap between what used to work and customer needs today.
B2B customers today are looking more and not waiting but making decisions and buying faster
Because much of a customer’s journey today is completed anonymously, most decision-making processes are often done before even the first line of contact is established.
Where Yelp has normalized deciphering the offline experience for restaurants, websites like Capterre and G2 are now becoming a model for potential customers who qualify a business before engaging in a purchase. Based on what I see, more and more customers are preferring the direct hand shopping experience.
I read it somewhere and it stuck in my memory that 70% of B2B customers state that their latest purchase was very complex or difficult. If you hide your business behind a wall and just jump on the call, you’re just making it harder for the customer to say yes.
How to switch from B2B to B2Me?
The good news is that the evolution of customer preferences towards the B2C experience means more self-service for your customer, fewer opportunities to leak into your funnel and the potential for very attractive aspects of B2C: speed to revenue and access to quantity.
Creating a personalized, convenient workflow for your potential customers can drive higher sales by making the customer feel like you’ve listened to and followed them in their time and like they’ve been allowed to peek behind the curtain which is why I moved away from the agency models in personal. This can trigger a more automated flow of “I know, I like, I believe” through your funnel.
So how can you start adding these features to your funnel? There are several ways:
1. Use technology to make every experience as enjoyable as possible
Teams should work on creating more personalized methods of interacting with potential clients. This is the foundation of relevant experience: gaining knowledge that you can act on without the effort of the customer. Not only will you progress more effectively through the sales process, but you free up sales time and give them the power to focus on the more nuanced aspects of the engagement.
2. Self-service purchase orders
Based on what I see, more and more B2B customers are using corporate credit cards without requiring a purchase order. Allowing credit card transactions instead of a 30-day payment period can create a more sustainable revenue stream while adding a sense of convenience to the customer when making a purchase. I see this becoming the norm for small and medium-sized companies because in their case the speed of execution becomes a critical advantage.
3. Make better use of team and client time.
Set up chatbots or live chat on your website or social media accounts to give the customer control over the engagement. These tools can provide insight and help ask common questions that would otherwise be difficult to ask over the phone. They also deliver an instant reward to the customer who wants to move on to the transaction and allow upgrades and cross-selling in a one-on-one environment.
B2B closed content days, weekly meetings, lengthy calls to get basic information about what is being offered and sold is a thing of the past. Today, control is dramatically shifting to the customer and, as I see it, the B2Me movement is affecting the entire funnel and needs to be adjusted.
Future offers are likely to contain enough information available on request and in a personalized way (no form!), Self-service everything, self-determination of purchase and payment times, and instant delivery. For those who can make the transition, the promise of speed and sales volume can quickly put you ahead of the competition.