Macro Trends Transforming the Buyer Experience

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Recently, I had an engaging conversation with Lauren Carlson, a CRM Analyst with  Software Advice, as well as read her article Tailwinds for Marketing Automation Software posted on The Software Advice Blog.  Lauren notes that the B2B environment is faced with increasing challenges in marketing to as well as selling to the buyer.  Lauren further adds that a confluence of trends is changing the way buyers experience buying decisions and purchases.  While the main premises of her article is on the macro trends that are pushing buyers to adopt marketing automation, there is perspective in these trends that give insight into how the overall buyer experience is being transformed.

One of the macro trends Lauren highlights is that buyers want content of real value.  As presented in two articles that outline the Seven Phases of the Buyer Experience Journey and the aligning Buyer Experience Interaction Model, buyers and sellers can engage in a continuous “looping” cycle of thought and subject matter expertise that correlates with initiatives and offers rich and robust content to enable the buyer’s research.  Closely related to this trend is another, that buyers will not answer the phone.  It has been written about often over the past year that sales are not able to engage until further down the buyer journey and marketing has a tough job of “warming up” the buyer for sales engagement.  Notably, this trend is changing the expectations buyers have of what is considered to be the ideal “buyer experience” they wish to encounter. 

A macro trend that Lauren notes and that Paul Greenberg has written about frequently is that buyers are seeking “consumerized” types of experiences despite being in the B2B environment.  Buyers desire the same simplification, ease of use, and ease of access that they may experience in consumer type purchases.    Putting pressure on B2B leaders to adopt a buyer experience design orientation of their marketing, sales, and support capabilities.  According to Paul Greenberg, adopt they must for buyers want to be “subjects of an experience” and not an “object of a sale” as Greenberg eloquently states. 

Engagement channels continue to expand exponentially each year which Carlson also notes in terms of the increase number of marketing channels.  A macro trend that is evident when one considers the outgrowth of micro sites, micro blogs, and micro social networks over the past couple of years.  Meaning buyers can engage in the special interests of their choice and find the tightly connected peer-to-peer networks to tap into.  Meaningful in the sense that buyer’s expectations are changing for engagements that offer deeper insights, deeper connectedness, and puts pressure on B2B organizations to have deeper expertise.  Lauren notes that another key macro trend is that sales cycles are longer in a down economy, a trending that is most likely consistent with other down economy cycles.  However, in this cycle buyers may be seeking to make deeper assessments than in past downturns.  Increasing the span of engagement and assessment that buyers and marketers intersect at. 

Two other macro trends Lauren refers to relate to software as a service (SaaS) architecture and marketing accountability.  Closely related in many ways since SaaS and automation represent a sizeable investment and accountability, metrics, and ROI are accompaniments to such an investment.  Undoubtedly, SaaS architecture is proving to be an enabling technology for marketing and sales processes. 

These macro trends, or tailwinds as Lauren also refers to them, are transforming the buyer experience at an accelerated rate.  Presenting enormous challenges to B2B organizations as they learn to adopt new methods and evaluate older more conventional methods of marketing to the buyer.  Necessitating the leadership ability to calibrate how to mitigate the risk of “too much” new and prevent the hasty discarding of proven conventional methods. 

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Zambito
Tony is the founder and leading authority in buyer insights for B2B Marketing and Sales. In 2001, Tony founded the concept of "buyer persona" and established the first buyer persona development methodology. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in revenue performance. Tony has empowered Fortune 100 organizations with operationalizing buyer personas to communicate deep buyer insights that tell the story of their buyer. He holds a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management.

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