Meeting the Needs of Today’s B2B Buyer

B2B companies of all sizes are taking a new look at how they interact and connect with their customers along all phases of the buyer journey. Today’s B2B buyer wants to access real-time information about transactions and track information around relevant products and services with any device at anytime. These needs are forcing B2B companies to expose processes that were once bound within the organization and effectively turning these companies inside-out.

Success Starts with Commerce

The unprecedented success and growth of companies executing B2B transactions online, such as Amazon and Grainger, has shown that B2B commerce is here to stay. In a recent survey ITProPortal conducted with 300 global B2B organizations, 75% of respondents said that their customers had demanded to buy online, and nearly three-quarters of those gave "ease of online purchasing" as the reason. Similar to their B2C counterparts, these B2B buyers also want relevant, contextual recommendations and personalized experiences. However, accomplishing this in B2B scenarios is a bit different than in B2C.

By utilizing data within existing ERP systems, ecommerce platforms can be integrated to deliver critical information to the customer - such as product configurations, CAD files, inventory levels, past purchases, warranty information, similar segment recommendations and delivery times - all of which can be exposed to the buyer, allowing them to transact online for both engineered goods and replenishment items.

Delivering Compelling Experiences

According to the 2B Digital Transformation report, published last year by Econsultancy, up to two-thirds (57% or 67%, depending on the source) of the customer's journey to the point of purchase is conducted online, before there is any interaction with any sales representatives. In many instances, the mind of the buyer has been made up, or greatly influenced, by the time they interact with a B2B salesperson. This further validates the need to create , compelling educational and information-based experiences to help the buyer along their journey. These experiences must also translate to distributors, with whom manufacturers and suppliers compete for mindshare. These buyers and distributors want to read whitepapers, watch how-to videos and hear the opinions of their peers. More advanced B2B organizations are even using AR/VR to train their sales teams, distributors and service personnel before a product is introduced, to reduce NPI cycles and increase the time a product has to sell in the marketplace.

The Role of Data

The underlying data infrastructure of an organization must be ready to power both commerce and the content that delivers these highly personalized, real-time experiences. Factors such as skills and organizational readiness, data strategy and standardization, data collection and accuracy, data visualization and reporting, as well as governance all have to be taken into consideration in order to deliver accurate information to the B2B buyer. Armed with this data, B2B companies can make better decisions on which experience to deliver to which buyer, as well as determine where in the buyer journey a particular prospect might be.

Bringing it all Together

The experience era is in full swing when it comes to B2B companies. Their ability to differentiate is no longer dependent exclusively on traditional differentiation - quality, product, delivery, cost. In the modern global digital era, experience has become another factor that will determine the leaders of tomorrow's industry. With focus on the outcome, commerce, skills, organizational structure, experiences and data, you can help bring your company to the modern era of experience.

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