This phenomenon isn’t isolated to B2C companies; B2B buyers are now demanding richer digital experiences and easier access to information.
To meet the heightened expectations of B2B technology buyers, companies—and specifically marketers—are rethinking their approach to technology and how to influence buying decisions.
Focus On Business Technology
B2B technology purchasing has moved away from a central IT approach and into the business. Forrester data shows that in North American enterprises, 73% of technology spending is led by business leaders—up from 71% last year. (See infographic at the end of this article.)
Since most technology decisions impact the overall company, business leaders are critical to the process. In fact, North American business leaders reserve 41% of their respective budgets for technology purchases and expect to increase their total spending by 5% over the next year.
Business leaders cite three critical reasons to address the need for spending more of their business budget on technology:
1. Technology is a key enabler: They want solutions that deliver value by meeting the overarching business objective for purchasing the product or service, while providing a consistent customer experience. Forrester found 39% of North American business leaders believe that software is the key enabler for their business and helps them engage with customers.
2. Customers’ expectations are rising: Technology empowers customers. Their expectations for digital touch points across every channel and easier access to information in real time require businesses to keep technology current.
3. A growing understanding of technology: As business leaders’ understanding of technology increases, they can interact with technology management teams more effectively to make better-informed decisions.
Why It Matters To Marketers
Today’s technology buyers are more informed and have more options than ever before, which means B2B marketers must understand the challenges and needs of their customers at every stage of the customer life cycle. They can then guide the buyer through the purchase journey to help identify the most valuable tech solution that addresses their individual challenges.
To capitalize on the widespread and significant changes to the B2B technology landscape, marketers should follow these steps:
1. Know your new buyer: That statement seems simple enough, but having a deep understanding of who buys your products—their priorities, challenges, available spending, etc.—is vital. Developing a data science skillset is crucial to knowing your customer. But B2B marketers admit that data analytics are among the weakest of their skills, and 37% say that increasing their organization’s use of data and analytics for customer insight will be a high priority in the next 12 months.
2. Understand your customers’ purchase journeys: Who gets involved and when? How do they research solution information prior to purchasing? What kind of content do they need? Buyer purchase journeys vary, and by answering these questions, marketers can map out their target buyers to understand what they want—and more importantly, what to provide them with to meet that desire.
3. Abandon the “lead funnel” for new strategies that map to the customer lifecycle: Salespeople were once the main source of information for B2B buyers, but online resources have substantially changed the sales process. Marketers must now develop digital engagement strategies and adopt personalization technologies that will build trusted relationships across the entire customer lifecycle, including steps that were previously owned by sales.
As business leaders start to play a larger role in technology buying decisions, it’s important to understand what they expect. Marketers who have a deep understanding of the changing technology buyer can better deliver value at every stage of the customer life cycle.
(Click on infographic to enlarge)