Every B2B buyer seeks the perfect business match. They’re looking for a solution to their problem, the aspirin for their headache. And in today’s world of data overload, it’s hard to even know where to start.
Researching and buying B2B solutions hasn’t really changed in 50 years. Although the Internet has changed how much research the buyer can do on their own, the information is still static, boring and impersonal. If the buyer doesn’t fall asleep and gets past the research stage, they then have a handful of vendors that they need to talk to. And talking they do: In a situation not dissimilar to Sisyphus and his boulder, the buyer is forced through a complex cookie cutter sales process, only to repeat it with the next vendor. Each one feels like a huge undertaking, and only when they get near the end does the process feel personalized.
Why, in an era when anyone with their consumer hat on can research and buy a product in under 10 minutes, is the B2B experience so uninspiring?
For one, it’s really hard to narrow down a vendor list personalized to the specific needs of a buyer. That’s what my own company Crushpath has been working on, as there isn’t a dating-site-like algorithm that matches buyers to businesses. Currently, buyers are forced to spend time researching, combing through answers in discussion threads and asking their peers for advice. B2B offerings are complex, but most of the time spent in the sales cycle comes from the buyer developing full confidence in the solution prior to making the big decision.
Second, since B2B purchases haven’t advanced to the level of self-service that B2C have, money equals awareness. Big brands spend millions on getting their message out there, with giant conference booths and factories of content producers. And once they get a prospect into their scripted sales cycle, the spending only continues, throwing in everything including the kitchen sink to get the signature.
Finally, the B2B sales cycle has not seen big advances in personalization. Of course, the sales deck the buyer sees has their company name and logo on the title slide, but that’s where the personalization typically ends. This assumes that the buyer even made it that far. Since the initial research stage results in reading generic info on a website that could be targeted at any Jane Doe.
What can make this archaic regimen change?
The answer is quite simple: technology that goes beyond the lowest common denominator of marketing awareness and automation to squarely focus on making the required buyer-to-business match.
So what can you do to start attracting the perfect match of B2B buyers? Seek out a partner who is thinking about customer acquisition as more than just casting a big net. Look for folks who know the power of an unfolding story, starting with the first touch of a potential buyer. Ensure they know how to target beyond the basic qualifiers (role, geography) and are able to do it across channels effectively. Once you have the potential buyer hooked, ensure that their intent is used to drive a call-to-action. If they are just in discovery mode, give them a chance to access valuable product information that’s focused on their business. If they are evaluating competitors, give them strong reasons to work with you (remember this is match making so make your qualities shine). Finally, if they are ready to purchase, remove all barriers to do so. Put them on a path to buy.
Now imagine what the world will look like when all B2B buyers realize there is a unique business match for them, one that doesn’t take months to research and leads them to vendor relationships of substance. Quite a business ecosystem.