Customer Journey

Modern B2B buying can be complex, but companies can adapt – starting with the customer experience

Businesses constantly need to find new agile and customer-centric ways of working. B2B companies looking to drive better business, maintain the most qualified leads and ensure they’re consistently converting, should consider their end-to-end customer experience. Here’s why.

Increasing market competition & Digitization

Digital is the new black (or rather has been for quite some time now) because: 1. Buyers prefer purchasing online and 2. The market is saturated. We’ve all become expert researchers and self-proclaimed “Googlers,” meaning that before your sales rep even reaches out to your leads, chances are, they’ve self-educated on the solutions available to them. Competition is nothing new to B2B, however, digital has shifted B2B buying behavior, mirroring that of B2C in many aspects.Traditional outbound sales tactics no longer attract buyers the way it used to and sellers have less influence on the customers in modern buying.

In the past 10-15 years of digital transformation (and amplified by recent events like Covid-19),traditional go-to market sales models have shifted to digital interaction models meaning prospects in fact prefer less in-person sales tactics.

“By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur digitally.” - Gartner

 

What to consider:

It may be time to rethink how your company approaches online sales and support.What kinds of resources are available to your leads and existing customers? Do you offer live chat, add-ons or self-service options?

What will set you apart from your competitors will depend on how well you adapt the customer journey in the digital sphere. Consider how well you address the needs of your customers, the obstacles they face and how you enable them to find solutions with as little friction as possible at every stage.

Long sales cycles

B2B buying is characteristically known to have long sales cycles. Whether it’s the bureaucracy of getting approval from internal decision makers, multiple rounds of product demos, the back and forth of contract negotiation, etc. The time from first touchpoint to sale won can take weeks, months, a year…or more. What does this mean for B2B buying? Conversions require a significant investment - time, effort and resources. Even if you have a large volume of qualified leads in the pipeline, you might not see your SQL’s convert overnight.

What to consider:

As you continue to nurture your SQL’s and move them closer to making a purchase, consider those who already have: your existing customers. Building a good customer experience and offering the right support when your customers need it often leads to loyal customers who become advocates and continue coming back for more, with a much shorter sales cycle at that.

Does your business offer support and nurture existing customers after they’ve made a sale? For many B2B companies, upselling and cross-selling are a great pay off when it comes to revenue, reducing churn and providing ongoing value and support. What's more? Having a product-led marketing strategy is an especially hot topic these days when it comes to adapting to the modern buying journey and acquiring, retaining and enhancing the customer experience long-term.

 

High customer expectations

B2B customers are just like any other – they want great experiences that live up to their expectations, which can be a tall order to fill. To make a sale, businesses need to be highly performative and attentive to the unique needs of every prospect and customer 24/7.  When the expectations of your leads and customers are not fulfilled (even momentarily) in a saturated online market like today, chances are they'll take their business elsewhere.

Live chat is an increasingly popular support channel and one way B2B can look to improve the customer experience and adapt to the modern buying journey.
Live chat support is increasingly popular, even for B2B services, and often surpasses traditional support channels. With customer expectations at an all-time high, your response time could be the deciding factor on whether or not you lose or gain an opportunity.

What to consider:

Buyers have become increasingly more complex and customer loyalty and trust are just as critical to the customer journey as is lead generation. Meeting your customer’s expectations means understanding their issues at hand and what motivates them at every stage of their buying journey. Businesses can look to achieve this with data. Analyzing data from your CRM and marketing automation tools, for example, can help you gain a 360-degree perspective of your client base. Which services attract your customers to consistently re-purchase? Do the majority of your end-users require onboarding or support after purchase? What is the most critical touchpoint driving the most conversions?

Understanding your customers based on the data available to you and how to leverage said data fosters brand loyalty and trust, and will enable you to deliver the right experience time and time again. Consider how and where your data is housed. Is it centralized and integrated in an efficient way? If the answer is no, it may be time to think about breaking down those silos and integrating your marketing and sales platforms. Connect your CRM with your marketing automation and sales tools for example, and you'll be well on your way to understanding your customer's buying journey, backed with real data-driven insights.

Lead generation will always be the name of the game when it comes to winning initial sales and new opportunities. However, creating long-lasting customer experiences and understanding how to continue to engage and deliver meaningful support is how B2B can drive consistent conversions, keep qualified sales in the pipeline and provide long-term value to their customers.

Want to learn more about improving ROI for B2B companies? Download the new Adobe produced E-book now:

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