The landscape of B2B buying has evolved significantly, prompting a call for adaptive selling and marketing strategies. Those in the B2B sector are acutely aware of the mounting challenges they face.
An illuminating moment occurred during a recent roundtable discussion we hosted when one panellist claimed that it could take up to 500 outreach efforts to secure a single appointment. This shocking statistic serves as a clear signal that it's time to explore a different approach, given the old adage that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is a form of insanity.
The Challenge of Abundant Choices and Complexity
The core problem stems from B2B buyers grappling with an overwhelming array of choices while being bombarded by undifferentiated content. Moreover, identifying the B2B buyer has become increasingly complex. In the tech industry, for instance, pitching used to target the Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Officer, but budgets are now dispersed across various departments, such as HR and marketing, making the B2B buyer more elusive.
To add to the challenge, purchasing decisions are no longer made by individuals but by groups, and these groups are growing in size, which hampers the decision-making process and makes it harder to capture their attention. Groups tend to be risk-averse, often leading to a reluctance to make a decision – the most likely outcome is inertia.
In summary, it's difficult to reach potential clients, and when you do, it's more challenging than ever to capture their attention and, subsequently, their trust.
Where Does Trust Fit In?
While the landscape has shifted for buyers, trust remains a pivotal factor. Just examining a typical B2B buying journey can be mind-boggling, with the inclusion of jargon, confusion, information overload, and exaggerated claims. Trust used to be cultivated through one-on-one interactions with a salesperson, but these relationships have largely given way to buyers conducting their own online research, and vendors streamlining their sales processes.
Nevertheless, buyers still value human input, and combining this with the efficiency of a digital platform can provide the best of both worlds, supporting both customers and sales teams.
From Leads to Accounts
Conventional B2B sales models relied on scoring individual leads, allowing experienced sales teams to track where prospects were on their buying journey. As previously mentioned, this approach has lost efficiency compared to searching for signals at the account level. This second method enables sales teams to conduct more effective outreach and target leads with precise messaging at the right time, enhancing the chances of a successful sale. It also empowers sales teams to gather invaluable intelligence from their interactions with potential clients, which can be fed back into the system. The qualitative sales intelligence obtained from a single conversation can be a significant indicator at the account level.
Outbound, Inbound, and Nearbound
In addition to traditional outbound and inbound communications, which have proven to be less effective, it's crucial to consider the ecosystem of companies in proximity to your customers, particularly the partner channel and other influencers. "Nearbound" is emerging as a potential innovative go-to-market model in B2B. Just as consumer buying journeys have become increasingly fragmented, B2B presents more opportunities to integrate your brand into the conversation by collaborating with communities and networks of buyers to ensure your communications remain relevant. Nearbound strategy involves co-marketing with channel partners, data sharing, and co-selling, leveraging the value of the ecosystem, and is poised to become a significant source of sales in the B2B sector.
Simplifying the B2B Buying Journey
While selling in the current B2B environment is challenging, it's equally arduous for buyers to navigate the complex process. Companies are likely to reward vendors that facilitate a simplified and more streamlined buying process. By adapting their sales approach and not sticking to traditional methods, organizations can surmount the difficulties of marketing to increasingly elusive prospects. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and similarly, sales teams can benefit from the broader digital and human community to create sales opportunities.