Making the B2B Buying Marathon a More Manageable Race

 

Everyone knows that there’s more than just a certain prestige that comes with claiming a big company as one of your clients. Big clients are obviously great from an optics standpoint, but more importantly for small enterprises, these contracts and revenue can really be a game changer for the balance sheet and the future trajectory of a company.

More than 80% of purchases from Fortune 1000 companies and companies with more than $1B in revenue is contracted. Selling services or becoming a supplier to one of these companies could ensure major success for your business, but of course, making that sort of sale can be a long game. A large percentage of this contract work with big business is contracted in annual agreements.

Therefore, both doing and attempting to do business with a Fortune 1000 company generally requires a serious time commitment. Your business might have to wait anywhere between 6-12 months, and provide ongoing support, to close that deal. In that time period, you’re using up valuable human resources chatting on calls and making face-to-face meetings to chase after dollar signs you’re hoping will materialize, given all of the work you’ve invested.

Compare that with how ecommerce happens today. Whereas with a traditional pipeline, you are funneling massive amounts of time and money into methods of persuasion, with ecommerce, purchases can happen on the spot as prospects are able to make a decision and act on it instantly. Ecommerce does away with the pushy (and sometimes desperate) appeal to buyers, instead of providing them with the tools, resources, and information they need to put the sale into motion.

As a result, those outdated B2B sales methods are quickly disappearing: buyers see less and less value from salespeople, and more and more value from accessing data on their own and reaching out to salespeople when they’re actually interested and ready to buy. According to Forrester, many of today’s B2B companies are still forcing this old interaction model – requiring buyers to interact with sales reps to complete a purchase – when in fact, nearly 75% of buyers say that buying from a website is more convenient, and 93% actually prefer it.

Now, the upstream part of the sales process is shifting online and influence will take place there too. Forrester also reports that buyers want “do-it-yourself online options for researching and buying,” and expect companies to have made updates to accommodate that preference. Companies need to be ready by updating their websites and their capabilities to make sure they’re not missing potential sales.

That’s where conversational commerce comes in. Conversational commerce is where messaging capabilities and the purchasing process intersect, allowing businesses to interact with potential buyers either through company representatives on social platforms or even chatbots. By enabling conversational commerce through company websites, companies will still be able to be a part of the sales process – but in a way that is less intrusive and more private to buyers.

Companies like Intercom and Drift already understand this – providing companies with website tools that support the buying process by facilitating interaction with the buyer on their terms. These tools meet buyers where they are – and only when they’re interested.

This type of help will become even more important as consolidation of information into platforms, such as Koble, comes to life as it will steer buyers away from the heaviness of search and instead, to the lightness of social. The benefits are seemingly endless for both buyers and sellers. Buyers will be in charge of how much they want to be “sold” to, and sellers will be interacting mostly with buyers who are already qualified leads, as they have indicated interest, and who are closer to being ready to buy.

To avoid being left behind with antiquated sales tactics, suppliers need to be well-equipped but also have the patience to manage the process. Engaging with these new tactics will require rethinking how the sales team supports a conversational commerce strategy and ensuring that the infrastructure reflects this new perspective. Ultimately, this process will yield higher quality leads, more success, and an overall, more effective sales process that will keep both buyers and sellers satisfied. In the future, B2B buying may continue to be a marathon in terms of the sales cycle, but these new social technologies will limit the wear and tear on both the seller and the buyer.

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07/10/2018