With the average B2B purchasing journey taking approximately 350 days, it’s no wonder it is synonymous with being both long and laborious. But it doesn’t need to be. And the complexities that may at first seem like bumps in the road, should instead be viewed as opportunities to create a better experience.
B2B buyers generally have high expectations when it comes to the brand experience. They expect experiences to be efficient, personalised and easy to navigate – particularly when they are built on long-term business relationships and often high spend.
In a competitive market, brands are having to rethink the way in which their products and services are sold. Yes, B2B buyers want a seamless experience across all touchpoints, but what is proving to be one of the key differentiators is being able to meet the needs of the people within the business, as well as the organisation as a whole. The key is delivering meaningful value.
Customer obsession begins with data
To deliver a complete, personalised customer experience, there’s no magic bullet. Whilst technology is advancing, there is still no single product that can solve every brand’s needs. Each piece of technology requires human input and the skills to support it. Too often we see companies place too much confidence in the technology and neglect to recognise the importance of the human-led strategy that allows tech to deliver on its promise.
Before investing in technology, or people, there needs to be a shared vision across the organisation about how these investments will tangibly benefit customer’s needs, wants and the ways in which they like to engage with a brand.
Data can help to identify what matters to specific individuals at every touchpoint of the customer journey. Gathering data from various channels – media platforms, content management systems, commerce platforms, supply chain, customer service platforms – enables brands to deliver personalised moments, enhancing the customer experience and stimulating brand loyalty.
Pay attention to the individuals within the business
When it comes to purchasing decisions, buyers want to work with brands who will help them achieve their own professional career ambitions and agendas. Decision drivers vary dependent on the sector that they operate in. Our research shows that those working in professional services prefer to work with brands who can teach them ‘new skills/knowledge’, whilst those working in the technology sector favour ‘products and services that can be customised’.
Buyers also want to work with brands who can demonstrate a genuine understanding of their business and understand their pain points and the challenges they face. This can be conveyed through content strategies that speak directly to the business, directly responding to their problems, priorities, and concerns.
On an emotional level, softer values such as ESG initiatives, or diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) policies, are coming to the fore. There’s a growing desire to work with brands whose brand values reflect their personal ones. This is proving to be a real differentiator in the B2B customer journey.
Building brand experiences that think beyond the sale
Our research shows that brands who offer personal value to their buyers are more likely to see improved commercial outcomes – translating to a 16% shorter sales cycle in 2022. The key is to build brand experiences that think beyond the sale – creating an emotional connection to boost customer engagement and loyalty.
By behaving like a forward-thinking business, and adding meaningful value to the buyer acting on behalf of the organisation, brands can gain the competitive edge. It’s no longer enough to be experts in products and services that benefit the business alone.
Our research shows that moving forwards buyers want to be proud of the brands that they work with, who can enrich their lives, have a progressive approach to all stakeholders, and can teach them new skills and knowledge.
From a business point of view, they want support, expertise and understanding of the company’s needs, a brand that is quick to respond and adapt to changing needs, offers customisation of products and services, and can consistently deliver on time and as specified.
For brands, now is the time to explore new avenues to connect with B2B customers. By finding out what their preferences are, and using this to tailor customer experiences, will stimulate brand loyalty and strengthen relationships. Success will be driven by consistent, personalised CX rather than intermittent splash appeal.