With so many offerings on the market, differentiation and showmanship are once again coming back into style. But how do you balance this new trend with the nature of traditional B2B sales?
As we like to say here at Thunderfoot, B2B doesn’t have to be boring.
But boring isn’t the biggest problem B2B companies face. These days, paper mail is a novelty; calling strangers on the phone is a faux pas. Traditional marketing strategies that B2B organizations have long relied on are rapidly fading away, like a facsimile that’s been Xeroxed one too many times.
From the 17th century cordwainers who pioneered the contemporary business-to-business model to today’s large corporations, every industry has watched marketing strategies constantly evolve. However, such progress can pose a looming threat to underprepared organizations. Understanding how to keep up with these changes and what companies need to do to thrive in a modern, digital landscape is now more critical than ever.
What Major Changes Threaten the Traditional B2B Model?
B2B sales and marketing teams have historically functioned in a linear manner, focusing first on marketing, then on sales interactions. However, this traditional approach is quickly becoming obsolete. Here’s how:
The Consumerization of B2B: B2B consumerization is the ever-increasing rate at which B2B sales occur in the digital landscape, instead of traditional face-to-face sales. The transition has resulted in B2C consumers carrying their expectations of experience into their roles as B2B purchasers. But what makes B2B consumerization so impactful is the unavoidable influence of a cognitive bias known as the contrast effect, which can cause companies who fail to adapt quickly seem significantly less innovative than competitors, regardless of how their capabilities actually square up.
The Shifting Demographics of B2B Buyers: Younger generations are moving into positions of purchasing power, which comes with new trends in consumer behavior and sales cycles. Most importantly, new generations of B2B buyers have grown up fully immersed in a digital world, further instilling an expectation of online access and design excellence.
Increased Accessibility for B2B Buyers: Never again will you come across a potential customer unfamiliar with your brand. Research from Forrester reports that the average number of buying interactions, where buyers research an offering prior to purchasing, is now at a high of 27, with the majority of it being done online. Because consumers have so much information at their fingertips, organizations and their sales teams enter the picture much later in the sales cycle. No longer can companies just rely on a charming salesperson to make a good first impression and connect with potential customers. Instead, businesses have to do much of the work beforehand and must always have a compelling online presence that engages users throughout the buyer journey.
How B2B Orgs Can Adapt to Today’s Industry
B2B organizations are now incredibly reliant on their digital presence to attract leads, make purchases, and grow their brand. Maybe you’re now thinking, Wait, but how? Good news — we found three ways businesses are successfully leveraging digital experiences for users:
Become data-driven: The sales cycle no longer begins with a handshake. Instead, marketers must now proactively find their audiences within the vast digital landscape. A robust data strategy is what powers cost-effective marketing strategies, identifies high-intent audiences and high-performing content, and prepares teams to meet buyers wherever they may be in their unique sales journey.
Invest in a captivating, premiere digital presence: In this digital age, buyers are aware of you before you’re aware of them. That means your digital presence must embody five principles of digital marketing:
- Optimized — Can people easily find you, even if they aren’t sure what they need yet?
- Synergistic — Is your style, voice, and messaging uniform across all channels?
- Helpful — Does your content inform buyers’ purchasing decisions?
- Engaging — Does your website and content invite exploration?
- Actionable — Is there a clear path to the next step in the sales journey?
Develop a people-centric, self-service experience: The consumerization of B2B is based on the reality that all businesses are run by people. Applying that principle to your UX/UI is how you leverage your digital presence, brand identity, and self-service offerings to connect with users without ever actually talking to them.
Bring Your Organization into the Modern Age with Thunderfoot
The digital landscape is hard to conquer alone, but no one expects you to do it all by yourself! Enter: Thunderfoot. Our integrated team of marketers, designers, and creatives have years of experience helping B2B organizations not only keep up with the new world of advertising but also surpass business goals. Check out how we helped a Salesforce consulting firm modernize their brand with a fresh visual identity and award-winning website that speaks to today’s consumers.