There’s been a seismic shift in the B2B tech buyer journey. Once a predominantly sales-directed process, today’s purchase path is far more customer-driven than ever before. These days, tech buyers create their own individualized journey, taking advantage of digital resources readily available online—competitive research, product review sites, and social media, to name a few—all in an effort to familiarize themselves with as much brand or product information as possible before initiating communication with a potential tech vendor.
As customers continue to evolve the B2B sales journey, it’s critical that tech vendors remain adaptable in their processes, addressing the distinct needs and preferences of potential buyers rather than following a more traditional path toward purchase. Otherwise, B2B sales organizations risk losing sizeable audiences to other, more flexible vendors.
Traditional v. Modern B2B Sales Model
Unlike its B2C counterpart, B2B sales has never been a simple transaction. Though it has, until recently, been consistently driven by sales reps themselves. Traditionally, companies have attempted to attract potential buyers using methods such as:
- Face-to-face meetings
- Attendance at conferences and/or tradeshow events
- Cold-calling prospects
These conventional tactics place significant importance on personal, face-to-face interaction with customers to facilitate the sales journey. Today’s sales model, on the other hand, is way more digitally dominant. Buyers can now leverage online tools to research vendors, perform competitive analyses, and learn more about a particular brand or product before reaching out to a sales rep for more information.
This transition to a more modern, digitally curated customer journey, has compelled B2B sales organizations to adapt their sales processes, prioritizing the needs and preferences of potential buyers and modifying the customer journey accordingly. As a result, sales organizations create improved buyer experiences, which help increase chances for conversion.
Customer Benefits of the Modern B2B Sales Model
With B2B tech buyers spearheading the customer journey, they don’t have to rely as much on vendors for answers to their brand or product-related questions. Instead, they can seek out information on their own terms, be it through a company website, social media, or piece of content, for example. This revolutionized model also provides B2B buyers with opportunities to:
- Expand awareness of potential suppliers
- Conduct research on their own terms
- Create a more positive customer experience in the sales cycle
Customer-Driven Trends Influencing B2B Sales
Throughout the core stages of the buyer’s journey—awareness, consideration, and conversion—today’s B2B tech buyers leverage a variety of digital tools and capabilities to establish new patterns of behavior, which ultimately influence the course of the customer journey.
Here are three examples of how B2B tech buyers have reshaped the customer journey:
1. Building Awareness through Social Media
Social media has matured in a big way. Nowadays, it’s a key tool customers use to identify potential new vendors, with the most popular channels being:
Thus, having a strong presence on these platforms has become an absolute must for B2B tech vendors looking to attract intent customers. Prior to today’s digitally focused sales model, buyers never really had the opportunity to explore such a wide breadth of tech vendors and widen their range of possible choices. Now that social media has become such an influential factor in B2B sales, companies have responded by sharing various resources and relevant content to their social media platforms, including informational videos, research reports, and webinars to pique the interest of prospective buyers.
2. Establishing Buyer Enablement Best Practices
After narrowing down a selection of vendors, buyers conduct their due diligence to see which companies align with their particular needs. To carry out this research, buyers rely on webinars, podcasts, and thought leadership articles to better gauge these companies and the products they’re interested in.
For tech companies, this has placed a huge importance on buyer enablement, which describes the process of empowering tech buyers with all possible resources to help navigate their own customer journey. Over recent years, companies have had to bolster their buyer enablement strategies with assets that allow today’s information-hungry buyers to carry out research on their own terms.
However, churning out content and hoping something sticks doesn’t quite cut it with today’s customers. According to our DemandScience benchmark study , B2B tech buyers say content is only relevant to them 63% of the time, which indicates a growing need for companies to develop more diverse, thought leadership-driven material that showcases industry expertise and results-driven solutions.
One way to do this is with an account-based marketing strategy. A persona-based approach B2B tech vendors can take to target specific buyers with content that’s custom tailored to them exactly, negating any issues of irrelevancy.
3. Creating Optimal Omni-Channel Experiences
It would be logical to assume the decision stage of the customer journey is still dominated by the traditional B2B sales model. Interestingly enough, buyers’ solo endeavors have actually played a major role in reshaping that process. According to Trust Radius, 57% of B2B buyers act independently at this stage, making final purchase decisions without ever speaking to a sales rep. And while sales calls and web chats still have their place in the customer journey, prospective buyers prefer turning to other resources, like:
- Webinars and podcasts
- Company ratings, reviews, and brand reputation
- Product comparison sites
Even if buyers do communicate with sales reps, they’re also very likely to research companies through multiple channels to help firm up their final decision. Even the best sales teams can risk losing credibility with potential buyers if they’ve provided a less than stellar customer experience across all communication channels, so the responsibility now weighs on B2B sales organizations to bolster their omni-channel strategy.
More often than not, today’s tech buyers drive much of the customer journey, approaching B2B tech purchases in a way that suits them best. Instead of vendors managing the entire sales process, buyers can now empower themselves digitally to make the best purchase decision for their business. Hence, B2B sales and marketing teams should recognize these changing dynamics and adjust their sales approaches for increased opportunities for conversion.
If you’d like to learn more about the evolution of B2B tech sales, download a copy of our latest benchmark report, “B2B Tech Buyer’s Journey: New Insights, New Influences.”