There’s a new kind of B2B buying cycle and a new kind of B2B buyer: Digital is the foundation of the new buying cycle, and empowered, the B2B buyer assumes control of the path to purchase. The B2B buyer’s journey is being reshaped by B2B customers starting the discovery process by performing digital searches. Dealing with a digitally empowered B2B buyer means communicating with them on their terms, and that includes taking a consultative approach to sales. It’s about developing solutions to help B2B customers solve their business problems. It’s about stepping outside of the B2B marketing box and, to varying degrees, applying B2C methodologies.
CMA Members only
The new B2B buyer is fickle, highly educated and with high expectations of the brands with which they choose to engage. A significant portion of buyers do their own research independently, before they ever reach out to a live person at a company to do business. Sixty-four per cent of small business owners (SBOs), for example, spend up to two hours a day searching online for information and insights to support their business. They know what they want and they know how their wants and experiences compare to those of their peers. They can access innumerable testimonials and reviews—sources that contribute to a high level of trust, to help inform their purchase decisions.
What it all means is that marketers, as well as salespeople, need to adapt to the new ways of buying, adapt or die as they say. If they can’t participate online in social circles or at least listen in, if they can’t bring a highly personalized point of view to those conversations, adding credible value in the process, if marketing can’t work with sales to develop the right products and services based on customer needs, then they will lag behind and ultimately lose out to the competition. It’s the buyer who’s in control. Today’s B2B marketers now must be able to speak to buyer needs, what they care about. This new status quo has ushered in a new kind of marketing, a different sort of conversation. It’s not exactly B2B, it’s not exactly B2C, it’s P2P, or person-to-person.
The new buying cycle is in the cloud
Cisco’s Mark Collins discusses how digital technology is blurring the lines between people’s personal and professional lives, allowing marketers to listen-in and better understand buyer needs. Data is the critical enabler of P2P marketing.
The SBO: Canada’s key B2B buyer cohort
The Cargo Agency’s Dan Gliatta offers a snapshot of the small business owners’ mindset; their challenges, frustrations and expectations. In fact, SBO’s demands are very much in-line with those of the everyday consumer—acting on this is paramount for business-to-small business (B2SB) marketers.
Case study: Marketing Mercedes-Benz Vans (MBVC) in Canada – The Cargo Agency strategy that lead MBVC to deliver more vans to SBOs than any other brand in the large commercial van market in Canada.
Blurring the tactical lines: Effectively engaging today’s B2B buyer
AMEX Canada’s Rob McClean looks at how B2B marketers are taking pages from the B2C tactical playbook to better engage buyers, much of this relying on digital. But whereas the B2C purchase may happen directly on-site without any interaction with a salesperson, in most cases, the B2B audience DOES want to engage with the salesperson.
Case study: Amex Take Charge Campaign – How Amex Canada positioned its charge cards as the ideal payment solution for SBOs, creating interest and generating demand for its charge products.