As businesses look to move forward, customer experience (CX) will be critical to success both in terms of recovery in the short term as well as longer-term sustainability and profitability.
The success of SMEs operating in the B2B space will be contingent on them having both a deep understanding of and being responsive to the B2B buyer.
The Modern B2B Buyer
Prior to the pandemic, the B2B buyer and the buying process could be described as follows:
- Complex and difficult
- Greater number of buying participants (on average 7 stakeholders)
- Somewhat sceptical and having varying degrees of trust
- Self-educating undertaking a range of activities including:
- Searching online
- Reviewing supplier websites
- Reading articles and blogs
- Watching videos
- Downloading whitepapers
- Very Demanding
- Over 75% of business buyers expect sellers to anticipate needs and provide recommendations before they initiate contact (Source: Customer Think: How B2B Customer Experience can Influence Sales Growth)
As we move past the pandemic, all of these B2B buyer and buying process characteristics still apply.
However, as businesses are trying to recover, your buyers are also:
- Uncertain about the future business conditions and how to proceed
- Facing enormous pressures due to cash flow constraints and declining revenues
- Risk-averse with a mindset of “proceed cautiously”, “save money”
- Proceeding cautiously
What Do Business Buyers Want from You?
As business buyers help their companies start to recover and navigate their way through the “new normal”, they are seeking the following from product and service providers:
- Insights and guidance
- Actionable Solutions
- Assistance with implementation to achieve their objectives
- No pressure to buy
In their book, Buyer Centred Selling, Thomas Williams and Thomas Saine listed some of the remarks heard from a focus group of business buyers about their expectations from sellers. These included:
A seller who understands our business model and can capture how we need to connect and serve our customers.
Someone who’s on our team—someone who can help us overcome our internal obstacles to change.
I don’t want a faithful follower – I want a leader. I want someone who is blatantly truthful and able to coach us across the finish line. If that doesn’t work, then I want him to drag us across.
Therefore, the B2B customer experience you deliver must be focused on buyer enablement. That is, helping business buyers to predict threats, solve problems and capitalize on revenue-generating opportunities.
This is how you will sell. This is how you will succeed!!!
Impact of B2B Customer Experience on Business Performance
It is critical that B2B CX is a core component of an SME’s Recovery Strategy and Action Plan due to the following:
- 70% of business customers will spend more with companies that provide great customer support
- Brands that improve CX experience a 10-15 per cent boost in revenue and up to 20 per cent lower costs [Source: Customer Think: How B2B Customer Experience can Influence Sales Growth)
- A proactive, prescriptive approach increases purchase ease by 86% (Source: “The New Sales Imperative,” Harvard Business Review, March/April 2017)
- Nearly 65 per cent of business buyers are likely to look for other vendors if a company does not try to personalise communications with their organisation.
Given the pressures and uncertainty that business buyers are facing as they try to recover revenues and rethink business operations, it is imperative that you make BUYER needs a core focus of your B2B customer experience strategy
What You Must Do to Help Buyers and Drive Revenues?
With the tough economic conditions and uncertainty about what the future holds, business buyers will only make investments where they see opportunities that will enable the business to become stronger and persevere in the short term and thrive in the longer term.
As a result, business buyers will only be prepared to buy when the issue they are facing meets 3 criteria:
- Is strategically relevant-addressing 1 or more strategic priorities or initiatives
- Desired change needs to happen quickly
- Benefits can start to be seen in shorter rather than longer periods of time
Therefore, in order to make business buyers buy, your job as a product or service provider will be to identify and deeply understand the “top priority” business issues, objectives and initiatives for your key clients and prospects.
You will need to recommend solutions that address these priorities as easily, clearly and quickly as possible. This will entail demonstrating to your customer or prospect:
- Why Make a Change (i.e. take action)?
- Why Change Now?
- Why You are the Best (and Only) Option
To do so, requires effective listening, diagnosis, engagement and solution development with your business buyers.
Like to learn more?
If you would like to learn more about how to deliver a B2B customer experience that enables buyers and leads to more sales and revenue, register for the upcoming webinar
Reigniting Your Business Growth through B2B Customer Experience
Join us Michael Haynes & Brett Trainor and learn:
Why Customer Experience is more critical than ever to acquiring and keeping Business Customers
What exactly Business Buyers want in today’s environment
How to develop and implement a B2B CX strategy that will drive Business Growth
Wednesday, 3 June, 2020, 3pm CST
Listening to Customers: The Foundation For Business Growth
To continually drive both innovation and business growth, you must truly LISTEN to your business customers and prospects.
The Secret Sauce To Sustainable and Profitable Growth
To acquire, retain and nurture large B2B customers to ultimately grow your business, you need to deliver a “DUAL” B2B Customer Experience”