Modern B2B Buyers

In a world of information overload, overwhelmed B2B buyers face a crisis of confidence as they struggle to make large-scale purchase decisions. Here are some buying realities for sales leaders to anticipate and respond to customer.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t drive growth

The approach to provide “above and beyond” service doesn’t pay. Research finds that customer satisfaction with service impacts isn’t statistically significant in driving account growth. The vast majority of customers are already satisfied with their current suppliers, so suppliers can reduce their focus on driving satisfaction to drive account growth. Customer satisfaction doubles the likelihood of a repurchase, but deciding to purchase something again represents the status quo, i.e. a continuation of past decisions. Deciding to buy additional or expanded services represents organizational change, often requiring new approvals.

As individuals, we commonly avoid things that seem difficult, unknown, risky or disruptive. Organizations are no different. Some surveys have found that B2B customers are 70% more likely to say a growth purchase requires significant organizational change compared to a repurchase decision. And even those who are motivated face a company uphill battle.

Customers’ confidence in their own decisions drives growth

So what drives continuing or expanding customer relationships with an existing supplier. The strongest driver of account growth turns out to be the confidence buyers have in themselves and their ability to make good buying decisions. Customer decision confidence increases the likelihood of a high-quality account growth purchase. Decision confidence can be defined by the buyer’s ability to feel confident that they:

  • Anticipate necessary changes
  • Determine the right questions to consider
  • Make the right choice

Thought leadership is not the differentiator it once was

Increased access to information from product reviews to pricing comparisons has overwhelmed buyers. Customers have access to reliable, high-quality and trustworthy, but often conflicting, information. As a result, the average buying group spends 15% of the buying cycle time reconciling and prioritizing that conflicting information. When buyers feel overwhelmed, they are more likely to regret their purchase or fail to reach a decision. This negatively affects their relationship with suppliers.

Customer perceptions of the salesperson are critical

Customers are inherently skeptical of a salesperson trying to sell them something. This skepticism results in customers being almost half as likely to buy when they feel the salesperson didn’t disclose all relevant information or they are skeptical of the salesperson’s claims. Sales needs a new strategy to engage customers, one that focuses less on the brand and more on how the customer perceives the salesperson in helping them make a confident decision.

Customers’ perceptions of themselves are paramount

Customer confidence in information has the strongest impact on closing a high-quality, low-regret deal. Transition from thinking about your brand to thinking about the customer’s buying situation is a must. Customers feel confident when they:

  • Determine the right questions to consider
  • Identify which information matters most
  • Identify consistent patterns or themes in the information encountered during the purchase

Having made a purchase, a customer’s satisfaction and likelihood of growth centers around the fact that they believe they made a good decision. Utilize a common sense approach to providing information to buyers.

For more information about demand generation, view the free video entitled Marketing For Business Owners Session 2.

Copyright ©John Trenary 2021

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