6 trends in B2B buying that you should care about

Shankar Ganapathy
June 8, 2021
b2b buying in digital buying experience

Do you still buy things the same way you used to 10 years ago? No, right? Neither do modern-day B2B buyers. Their expectations and demands have also changed in keeping with digital advancements. It’s more about convenience – ease of doing business, flexibility, and customer experiences.

And so, the way we do business needs to change too! The modern b2b buyer is evolving, turning more to digital solutions for doing business, seeking SaaS models that minimize risks and hold vendors accountable to promised outcomes. This evolution of the modern buyer is disrupting established sales models, forcing leaders to rethink their sales playbook. Sales pitches now need to go beyond product-oriented spiels to buyer-centric plays. In fact, as per research by Gartner, companies who make it extremely easy to buy from them have a 2X higher chance of winning the customer.

The new B2B buying behavior

The transitional changes in buyer behavior are yet to be fully explored or understood by revenue teams. You might think this is commonplace business knowledge, but surprisingly, most companies continue to look at their enablement strategy, sales methodology and forecasting process in absolute isolation from their buyers’ journeys.

This leads to a fundamental disconnect between the way companies are selling versus what the B2B buyer preferences - digital customer relationship building is not yet a paradigm of B2B sales. Buying behavior is also getting influenced by B2C buyer experiences – doing business is now all about convenience. So, solution providers who can make it easy for their buyers to buy from them will win more business than others.

In this new world, B2B buyers are maniacally obsessed about the value they are going to get from the purchase – they want engaging, personalized, and outcome-oriented experiences packaged into the traditional bundled services that are offered with the product. All in all, there is the rise of the new business buyer.

As we were starting Inc, we interviewed 100s of sales leaders and their buyers to understand the emerging trends in B2B buying and selling. The single biggest learning for us was that the modern buyers give a lot of value to one thing - the experience we provide to our buyers. The digital b2b buying experience is the most significant differentiator for sales leaders as they pursue new opportunities to drive predictable growth and profitability.

Download this b2b buyer engagement Ebook now

#1 Time is premium for the new-age buyer

B2B buying for the most part used to be driven by IT/procurement teams. The Saasification of business solutions and the direct impact it can have on business outcomes has forced the business buyer to take a more central role in buying and value realization.
Many of these business buyers hold stressful day jobs with KPIs to deliver. They don’t have the patience to listen to meandering sales pitches. They prefer to be treated as partners, expect complete transparency, and want to understand value creation before engaging in a buying process. The new-age business buyer looks for value-driven discussions right from the start and is not motivated to buy unless they see at least 10x ROI.

#2 Many are first-time buyers

Most B2B buyers are going through a purchasing process for the first or second time in their life (or at least in their current organization). This means they are most likely not well versed with selling to internal stakeholders, driving consensus, or working with legal, IT, or procurement. In fact, as per research by Gartner, the buying process gets so convoluted that 4 out of 10 buying attempts end up in no-decision. Even when they end up purchasing, 8 out of 10 times the buying group felt their latest purchase attempt was more complex and difficult than their previous one.

#3 Digital-first buying behavior is an emerging trend

They are digital-age pros who demand self-service and an outcome-oriented approach to make their buying lives as easy as possible. According to a McKinsey survey, 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer digital self-service and love the digital platform – it makes them feel more independent.

Another buying preference, accelerated by the ‘safety first’ mode of the pandemic, is that they prefer remote and digital modes of purchasing. So, they love to use tools that make them self-reliant, as they want a more collaborative and real-time approach that ups the ease of buying.

#4 New-age buyers have different expectations from salespeople

New-age buyers prefer to do their own research instead of talking to sales reps for information discovery. As per research by Gartner, they spend 45% of their time researching by themselves. This means the B2B buyer is well aware of your service/product even before your seller talks to them. If the seller doesn’t add value, the buyer will lose interest quickly (Gartner explains this concept through the ‘sense making' seller)

To cater to this new b2b buying behavior, sales leaders should look beyond the seller-only based sales model to one that is built around the buyer and their preferences.

#5 Modern business buyer is always looking for value

These busy business honchos are always prioritizing, looking for quality, and as the Harvard Business Review puts it, looking for fundamental ‘elements of value’ which are table stakes, the functionality of approach, ease of doing business, individual preferences, and inspirational value additions.

These buyers prefer to work with vendors who can clearly show off the value that makes decision-making easier for them. With the XaaS business model becoming the norm, customers expect faster and measurable time to value.

They also look for continuous and measurable ROI – they know that with XaaS, it is easier to find alternatives. So, they are clear that they want to do business only with those vendors who care about solving their problems and help them measure the impact in terms of value.

#6 Trust, transparency, and openness matter to them

They don’t want sellers who just sell the product – they want someone who will innovate with them, stand with them and create customized solutions together.

In short, they don’t want to be treated as just another customer – but they want to be a partner working together towards problem-solving and getting value. They, therefore, expect sales teams to be transparent and open throughout the journey with them.

This also means they are open to talking to salespeople even while figuring out what their problem is and are open to working together to find the right solution. This doesn’t mean they’ve cut the cheque easily, but that they are allowing you to showcase your differentiator quality much earlier in their b2b buying process.

As a Forbes report reveals, “Buyers are twice as likely to be influenced by vendors who are transparent and trustworthy”.

In conclusion…

B2B buying has got even more complicated with the work from home transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The future of B2B sales will see a permanent transformation to cater to the new buyer and their preferences. This will also force sellers to adapt from a selling-first mindset to an enabling-buying first mindset.

Selling will also become omnichannel, outcome first and digital-driven, and most workflows will be built around the buyer and seller working together. Sales leaders who adapt to this change will win more business than others.

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