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THINKING

Changing expectations in B2B purchase decision making

When we look at the B2B landscape, most of us can probably draw on our personal experiences as consumers to understand the shift that’s happening.  

Most of us do a significant amount of buying online – groceries, household products, electronics. That behavior is spilling over into our professional lives. Intuitively we know this is leading to people buying online more frequently for their businesses, but let’s put that into perspective.

A recent Forrester report estimated B2B eCommerce will top $1.1 trillion by 2020. That accounts for 12.1% of all B2B sales in the US.That’s a huge number – big enough to be twice the size of the predicted B2C eCommerce market for that same year. And 2020 is truly right around the corner.

But what is happening at the individual level? How do people buy and what are they looking for from their experiences? Where are businesses falling short in meeting those needs? Based on what we’ve seen in working with clients: 

  • The vast majority of business purchasers are buying things online for their businesses. Again, given how much we personally buy online, that’s not shocking. 

  • Business purchasers are frustrated with how hard it is to buy things online for their businesses – they wish it was as easy as it is when they buy for themselves. And a sub-par experience directly affects whether or not they move forward.

  • Third, people have a good idea of what would make the buying experience better – unsurprisingly, it’s the same things they want as consumers – ease, transparency, and customization. 

It’s becoming more and more important that businesses make information accessible and support new purchasing desires and mindsets. Of note is Amazon’s reintroduction of Amazon Business. They’ve incorporating business-friendly features, like shared payment methods and approval workflows. In addition, buyers can compare multiple offers, see products in action and look at reviews from other purchasers. In other words, Amazon is delivering for businesses what we already experience as consumers. 

These heightened expectations don’t apply to just straightforward “physical” products. These behavioral shifts will affect more involved sales as well. We all understand the human touch is still extremely important, especially for complex products and services, but customers are asking for companies to keep up with how they want to do things across all channels.  

What we’ve seen in the broad B2B marketplace is that many sellers are slow to adapt to this new way of purchasing. The purchase experience, for the most part, is still incredibly complicated. Why? There are several factors at play:

  • Many large corporations are still married to their traditional distribution or sales channels and they are hesitant to risk any revenue to explore new approaches.

  • Companies are complex and often siloed. They are focusing on their specific product or service as opposed to connecting the dots, and thinking about an overarching solution for customers.

  • Finally, the sales team isn’t always receptive to new ways of doing things. They don’t want to become irrelevant. Sales people will still be critical, but they will need to adapt. 

Are you prepared for these changes? If not, how do you keep up and appeal to buyers? 

Are you also able to make shifts in the experience that lead up to the purchase itself?

Is the customer experience seamless across all relevant channels? 

Does your content support a “research and validate” mentality before and after the purchase? 

And does your sales team play a valuable role, especially when customers are dealing with complex sales? 

2and2 can help you answer these questions and determine how to maximize your growth potential. 

 
 
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