B2B marketing and selling in 2021 is more about helping customers make purchase decisions, faster and easily rather than selling products and services. Today, those ecommerce technology providers that want to succeed must take a buyer-first mentality and focus their sales and marketing initiatives towards educating and simplifying complex and difficult purchase decisions for their prospects. Providing interactive, relevant and personalized information at various points along their buyer journey as well as tools is what buyer enablement is about.
Before your sales and marketing teams can enable your prospective buyers, it is important to understand them, what they care about and what their purchase realities are.
Understand your buyers - Before you aid your buyers, you must first have a deep understanding of who they are, what they want, their goals, issues and challenges. There are at a minimum of 4 buyers in a buying group, they come from various departments and play different roles. What is their ICP? Their unique and individual pain points, motivations, priorities and goals? How do they tie into the larger business outcome for their organization? What are the aspirational short term and long term goals of the organization? What does their internal purchase process look like? What is the buyer group dynamics? How do they communicate and make decisions internally? More detailed and deep the better. Understanding your buyers should be an ongoing process so your sales and marketing can create effective strategies that serve your customers best.
Understand what B2B buyers care about - Unlike B2C scenarios where buyers are more interested in buying the best quality product for lowest price, B2B buyers care about their long-term ROI. They want to know how your technology will pay off in the long run in terms of investment and return it provides. Is investing money in your ecommerce platform justified? Look at their pain points and what it is costing them financially? How much business are they losing to competitors? What value will your ecommerce offering bring to their business? Who will be financially impacted most on the buying team? How will the whole organization benefit? A downloadable guide or presentation on cost benefit analysis can help.
Understand modern B2B buying realities - Buying realities are different today than they were just a few years ago. B2B purchasing is no longer seller driven instead buyer-first. Prospects prefer a seller free experience and rely on self service options to research their problems and find solutions. Promotional messages about your products and services aren’t useful instead educational ones are. Buying interactions have increased from 17-27. Further buying team is no longer a one or two person job, instead a formal committee with at least 6-10 buyers from various departments. Buyer’s today operate in an information-rich environment where they have access to more data and insights than ever before. High-quality content is necessary but even more important is helping them sift through and make sense of everything they have collected.
Now that you better understand your buyers needs, let’s look at how you can enable them -
Content - Creating relevant and personalized content that is useful to various people on the team at various stages throughout their purchase journey is an important element to helping your buyers progress. Keep in mind whether the buyer is purchasing from you the first time or buying again. Including facts, insights, user reviews, evidence and results in your content can help them see how your platform has helped other businesses like theirs digitally transform. For a buyer who is launching their ecommerce operations for the first time, they may be interested in learning about what their platform should include (they may not be fully aware). For example -
Deep personalization capabilities
Customizable pricing, payment, ordering and reordering options
Digital payment options
Just some of what you can include in your product guide to help with their product evaluation and supplier selection process.
Other content ideas are -
Research reports - example - headless commerce architecture, Ecommerce study
Case studies - showcasing how other businesses benefited from technology
Videos - Platform Demo
Peer recommendations and review sites - 61% rely on them
Competitor product comparison - 65% find them useful
Interviews with experts
Statistics based surveys
Opinions and reviews from influencers, advocates who are often satisfied customers
Buyer insights in the form of what information buyers are seeking, what sales and marketing asset they engage with and at what stage during the buyer’s journey are useful to further build on creating useful content.
Content Format - Another vital element to enable your buyers is to present your information in content format that buyers prefer. While well-researched and well-written blog posts are liked by those who prefer to read, video and podcasts have become choice media formats lately though. Other key factors to keep in mind are -
Easy accessibility and shareability so your sales team can have all the relevant content they need to send to clients as and when they need it.
Responsiveness since most buyers access information are on their mobile phones
Visually appealing and interactive for increased customer engagement
Website - In a digital-first world, your website is the first stop for the buyer team for information gathering. Is your website providing a good user experience? Is it describing your products and services well? Does it contain all the useful information various stakeholders on the team will help find useful? Some examples are - Buyer’s guide containing a product comparison of your direct and indirect competitors (ecommerce technology providers), capabilities, list of third party review sites, user reviews, general ecommerce related insights like current and upcoming trends. This will help buyers get a general sense of what the ecommerce landscape looks like today, what they should look for in the near future and things to consider as they contemplate switching from a legacy to a modern and modular ecommerce ecosystem.
Partnering with the Champion - If selling today is hard, B2B buying is harder. Purchasing and implementing expensive technology has far reaching organizational consequences. Confidence in decision making is critical. Wrong decisions can result in financial losses and make those involved look bad or potentially even impact their careers. So there is immense pressure. Within diverse buying group, consensus isn’t always easy due to individual motivations, opinions and pain points. Your sales reps can play the role of a coach by identifying who the champion is, and then engaging them to build a compelling business case with other stakeholders using buyer enablement content. Content such as proposals, fact sheet and presentation decks containing information on - why change is necessary? What financial impact not doing anything has on business? What peers are doing? Defining requirements, vendor options etc. - can be used by the Champion to secure buy-in from others.
Enabling your buyers effectively is also one way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Showing your genuine interest/commitment by providing a frictionless purchase experience while adding value allows you to stand out. It also adds towards building a happy customer experience (66% of B2B buyers would advocate for vendors that display care about their business). Don't forget to measure your buyer enablement efforts so u can gauge how effective you are being and what else you can do.