B2B marketers need to stay on top of purchase trends to get ahead when it comes to connecting with buyers. The buyer process continues to shift as buyers become more informed about the investments they're considering before they even hop on the phone with someone in sales. While more than 95% of all corporate buyers want a salesperson to be involved in the sales process, the B2B buyer space isn't the same as it used to be. With the wealth of information available to buyers online, buyers are becoming more independent. Recent studies indicate that the B2B buyer space is experiencing some shifts and new trends are emerging. Related: 3 Content Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to in 2013
The B2B Buyer Landscape
In their 2013 State of B2B Procurement Study, Acquity Group surveyed corporate buyers to discover what their purchasing habits and preferences are. The study revealed Gen Y buyers are more likely to shop online than their older counterparts, with a consistent trend of online purchase increasing in younger generations as 90% of buyers age 18-35 make company purchases online, followed by 68% of buyers age 36-45 (Tweet this stat!). The study also showed that younger buyers research more before purchasing than their older counterparts. While more B2B buyers are conducting online research and making purchases online, the survey also found some interesting information about the purchase process. The survey showed:
- 27.1% preferred to "speak with someone directly to discuss purchase options and walk me through the entire process." (Tweet this stat!)
- 27.1% were willing to do some research, but wanted "to talk through purchasing on the phone with a salesperson."
- 33.8% wanted to do their own research and purchase online, but also wanted "to have the support of someone on the phone to discuss any issues." (Tweet this stat!)
The ABC's of B2B Buyers
We've covered trends that are taking place when it comes to online research and the purchase process. However, these aren't the only trends B2B marketers need to be aware of. Mike Miller, Director of Business and Industrial Markets at Google, noted in an interview with eMarketer that they saw a 23% change year over year when it came to those who relied on search for their business purchases -- it went from 67% to 90%. Miller also explained, "By the time a B2B purchaser actually engages with a company or with a sales rep from that company, they're 57% of the way through their decision process." If your business aims to stay ahead of competition, remember your ABC's when it comes to what buyers want.
- Be Available. Even if your outreach efforts fall short in making contact, let your prospects know you're ready to talk when they are -- whether it's during the research phase, the actual purchase, or after they've made an online transaction.
- Be Beneficial. Buyers don't want a sales pitch; they want to know how your business, product and service will benefit their business. As a marketer or sales professional, you need to instill within buyers just how you can add value to their organization.
- Be Consistent. Miller pointed out that organizations may have one group that's focused on just one channel, another on a different channel, and the messages they're placing in those channels aren't consistent. Don't fall into this trap; make sure your brand and tone are consistent across all channels.
While buyers may be doing more research on their own than ever before, they still want businesses and salespeople to be available should they have questions or want assistance during the purchase process. Your business needs to reach buyers by being beneficial and addressing their needs, whether it's making a purchase or providing research before they buy. Use your content, knowledge and available resources to address the buyer trends that are taking place.