How is the B2B buyer evolving?

The way budgets are spent in B2B marketing departments has evolved in the last decade, due entirely to the change in channels available to marketers, and the buyers they are trying to capture.

Rewind 10 years and you’d see B2B marketing budgets being spent on events and meetings – fill the top of the funnel and then let the sales team walk that lead all the way through the process until contracts are signed. And while events are still a great way to engage with prospects and see the whites of their eyes, modern marketers are much more savvy in how they approach the 2019 B2B buyer.

If the new B2B buyer isn’t completely comfortable networking at events, who are they?

Shock horror! Millennial’s and Gen X, these youngsters are now making B2B buying decisions.

Getting the content right

B2B buyers are digital savvy and a product of the environment they grew up in. According to Gartner, when B2B buyers consider a purchase they spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers, and 5% with only one sales rep. Which is no surprise given how millennial buyers are skeptical of sales reps and the sales process.

In short, in a world bursting at the seams with data and information, millennial’s are much more comfortable doing their own research. In fact, 94% of buyers said they consume multiple pieces of content from businesses that they ended up working with. Looking with more granularity, 50% said they were influenced by content uploaded onto social media, and 55% from content downloaded as white papers (reinforcing the importance of social media within your marketing strategy).

They are suspicious of sales content

The modern B2B buyer has grown up in a world of advertising, above and below the line. Ads following them round the web. Increased TV slots. Contaminated search results. The outcome is a buyer who is extremely wary of content that could be disingenuous. This buyer wants real value, they are reluctant to open an email from an unknown source and they are less likely to give up their data unless there is a real value exchange.

The onus is on the seller to create content that resonates with buyers at any stage of the funnel and solves the buyers particular challenge, and if this content is gated, it must go above and beyond and offer real value. If it doesn’t, that buyer will just look at another website or piece of content.

They are still part of a larger buying and decision-making team

Once the buyer has researched products or services online, they will feed back to the wider team. To make things a little more challenging, according to Gartner, that wider team is generally between 6 and 10 people. 75% of customers explained that their purchase teams involved a wide variety of roles, teams and locations.

In short, it’s a lot of disparate people to impress with little face-to-face time. From a seller’s perspective, the content we put out there for them to find must be comprehensive enough to resonate across the full buyer spectrum. It must impress the buyer and researcher, and their contemporaries and bosses.

What are buyers really looking for

We know moving a buyer from one end of the sales funnel to the other (and we know the funnel is not a linear one) takes time. In B2B, buyers are still mindful of spending large amounts of cash on products that don’t deliver ROI. On the flip side, modern buyers are also looking to enhance their reputations with product or service purchases. According to Harvard Business Review, there is still buyer nervousness around compliance and regulations, price and scalability – will the product or service still be relevant in 2, or even 5 years? For the seller, being able to produce this specific, quality content, whether free or gated, is critical to ensure they are in the mix when suppliers are discussed in a larger group.

In conclusion

The last 10 years have seen a big shift in the way B2B buyers buy. It is imperative B2B sellers, to be successful, understand these differences and market their products or services in a way that is relevant, timely and pertinent.

If you need help understanding your B2B buyer or advice on the right message to get in front of them is, get in touch with us today.

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