While B2B buyers are shopping for different products and services than general consumers, it’s important to remember that they are consumers as well. Understanding how consumer preferences translate with business buyers can help improve your organization’s marketing plan.
5 Keys to Success with B2B Buyers
B2B (business-to-business) marketers don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to understanding their customers, they simply need to remember that the buying preferences of the people who are end-use consumers will be similar to those of B2B buyers; after all, B2B buyers are people, too.
A closer look at five consumer buying behaviors shows how those same preferences could translate into similar preferences for B2B buyers. In turn, providing insights that can help marketers who sell to business buyers improve their marketing approach and return on investment.
5 Consumer Insights Can Bring Success with B2B Buyers
1. Communication Preferences
70% prefer to receive brand communications by email.
Stop calling! Email is far and away the consumer’s preferred way to hear about brands, followed by regular mail. Fewer than 1 in 4 consumers want a phone call. If more than 7 of every ten consumers prefer to receive brand communications via email, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same holds true for business buyers?
Phone calls are interruptions; emails can be held for a recipient’s convenience. Phone calls aren’t permanent records; emails can be retained forever (or at least until the B2B buyer is ready to buy!) Yet most busy business executives receive several (cold) sales telephone calls each day.
2. Get Comfortable in the Social Space
Positive posts improve brand perceptions by 10%.
Many businesses are still struggling to develop an effective social strategy; however, business buyers are already alive and well on social networks, many with dual-purpose (professional and personal) social profiles actively participating on social platforms.
B2B marketers need to understand the duality of the business buyer’s social presence and be aware that B2B buyers are learning about brands for personal and professional purposes, and they are also sharing their experiences with brands on social platforms. Lack of presence on social networks means that competitors who are present in the social space will have an advantage.
Furthermore, online shares – whether positive or negative – can have a significant impact on buyer’s brand perceptions. New data from ShareThis and the Peley Center for Media demonstrated that positive online shares lifted brand perception by nearly 10 percent, while negative shares decreased brand perceptions by 11 percent.
3. Personal Payoffs, Values and Emotion are Still at Play
70% will pay a higher price with businesses that share their values.
Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to buy (or not to buy) from organizations based on the extent to which they believe an organization shares their values and beliefs. B2B buyers don’t check their emotions at the door, either.
In fact, a new study by Google, the Conference Executive Board and Motista found that 71 percent of business buyers will purchase from organizations based on their personal values (defined as “the combination of professional, social, emotional, and self-image benefits”), and nearly 70 percent will even pay a higher price in order to do business with companies whose values are in alignment with their own.
4. Content Marketing Matters More than Ever
> 80% research purchases online before buying.
An ever-increasing number of consumers – more than 80% – now research purchases (especially major purchases) extensively, online, prior to buying. The same holds true for B2B buyers, with a majority saying they consumed anywhere from 2 to 10 pieces of online content before they were even ready to speak with a sales representative.
5. The Devil is in the Details
The Devil – or in this case, the B2B buyer’s decision – is going to be in the details. B2B buyers want to find the best deal on the product or service most likely to solve their problem or meet their need, and will be looking for details such as:
- the extent to which a product or service can be customized
- available upgrades, add-ons and accessories
- what type of concessions an organization is willing to extend
- the extent to which they retain control over decisions that impact their business (such as being locked in to a long-term contract)
- the guarantees the seller is willing to make
- their recourse or service options if things go wrong
- the amount of training, support, maintenance and other customer care the seller will provide
- whether they believe they are getting a fair price
- the extent to which they perceive that the seller truly values their business
All of these details – and all of the consumer-translated preferences listed above – can (and probably will) influence the final decision of a B2B buyer.
The extent to which an organization understands how objective and subjective considerations play a part in the decision-making process and consequently tailor offers and marketing messages and mediums will see an impact on their overall marketing return.
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