As uncertainty continues in the economy, winning new revenue is increasingly challenging. How B2B companies purchase their direct and indirect goods and services has changed. For vendors selling to B2B companies, their sales cycles are changing and gaining the attention of new prospects is becoming increasingly harder and more expensive. Recent polls have found that over fifty percent of vendors are seeing their sales cycles lengthen or change and they are not sure why.
The B2B buying process is now social, trust-based, transparent and self-directed with the buyer in full control. If companies want to grow in 2012 and beyond, they have will have to redefine how they engage, enable and build enduring relationships with their target markets.
The Six Laws of Social Business Transformation guide companies in understanding and aligning to their customers’ new social-based processes:
- Discover the Invisible. Companies must have an in-depth understanding of the ten steps of the Buyers’ Social Framework™ for each of their target markets.
- There are No Customers, Only Buyers. Change the internal dialog around ‘customer’; a purchase doesn’t mean they will keep buying. Treat everyone like you need to earn their business every day.
- Forget Value Propositions. Ditch product feature-based messaging and change all company communications to be outcome-oriented; these will resonate with buyers.
- Align Outward. Instead of worrying about organization charts and zero-sum budgets, redefine roles in terms of how to engage and enable buyers and deliver value .
- Abolish Marketing and Sales. Buyer expectations should dictate the sales model. By combining Sales and Marketing into a single team with shared buyer-centric metrics companies can achieve greater ROI, faster.
- Value is a Stream, Not an Event. Understand how buyers now define value throughout the relationship and align processes to fulfill those expectations; the result is an army of evangelists.
To accelerate sales cycles, B2B vendors must embrace a more socially engaged business model that includes new ways to enable prospects to achieve their goals. Successful social businesses tightly align with their target markets’ expectations and deliver relevant value at each step in their Buyers’ Social Framework.
“Social business is more than just adopting social media and collaboration tools. Aligning the company to meet buyer expectations is the key to growth,” shares Susan Lucas-Conwell, chief executive officer of Great Places To Work Institute. “New Business Strategies’ Buyers’ Social Framework is a unique methodology to guide us through the social business transformation and more effectively enable, engage and establish, enduring relationships with our customers.”
The biggest challenge companies face is understanding what it means to be a social business. Most executives believe it is either a marketing tactic or an additional channel through which to serve customers. They view social business as a tactical ‘add-on’ versus a strategic ‘instead’. Applying the Buyers’ Social Framework methodology enables companies to map the information buyers seek and where they go for those answers with a vendor’s marketing, sales and customer service processes.
The Buyers’ Social Framework drives faster revenue cycles because it helps vendors learn how to view themselves through the eyes of their buyers. Companies that transform into social businesses uniquely align outward to their prospects’ and customers’ self-directed processes and expectations. The business case is an easy one – shorter sales cycles, increased pipeline velocity, and decreased cost of sales.
Find out where you are in your social business transformation by taking a free 5 minute assessment. It will give you a score and send you a report of all your response.