Winning in Today’s Challenging B2B Purchasing Process
One of the most intriguing areas of insight uncovered by the survey was the identification of 6 areas.
A 2019 survey of 250 senior-level B2B executives conducted by Demand Gen Reports uncovered interesting facts and trends that provide insight as to how vendors can better position themselves to win in the complicated B2B purchasing process.
One of the most intriguing areas of insight uncovered by the survey was the identification of 6 areas B2B purchasing executives felt winning vendors tended to differentiate themselves versus other vendors that are considered, but not awarded business. B2B vendors are more likely to win contracts if they:
· Demonstrated a stronger knowledge of customer needs,
· Demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and the business landscape,
· Provided higher quality content,
· Provided informational content that was easy to consume,
· Provided timely responses to inquiries, and
· Possessed a sales team having more insights about the customer’s company and needs.
These six B2B vendor differentiators can be grouped into four distinct imperatives for positioning a B2B sales and marketing organization to successfully compete in today’s complex sales process.
· Understand customer needs
· Deliver relevant, easy to consume content
· Develop solutions that answer the needs
· Respond quickly to the customer
Now that these imperatives have been identified, the next question is, how do companies deliver on these imperatives?
Understanding Customer Needs – A Common Foundational Thread
Three of the four imperatives identified in the survey rely on common foundational knowledge a vendor must fully understand to even begin to compete in the complex B2B sales process; a deep understanding of customer needs. Without this understanding, delivering relevant content, and developing solutions to address these needs are virtually impossible.
Delivering Relevant, Easy to Consume Content – Be an Expert
In today’s digital world, B2B buyers use vendor websites and blog content as a primary source for education and research. According to the Demand Gen Report’s Buyer Survey, more than half (51%) of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions, and they want shorter, interactive content that educates rather than sells.
Blogging is now mainstream. Wordpress users alone produce about 70 million blog posts and 77 million comments each month on the popular platform. Many of these bloggers are professionals hired by companies with the sole purpose of promoting brand and brand image.
So how might one gain an advantage in the competitive world of blogging? Develop a deep understanding of customer needs and create relevant content, commentary, and solutions focused on your knowledge of customer needs.
Developing solutions that answer needs – Winning Solutions Solve Customer Issues
Products and services that answer customer needs or issues typically deliver measurable value, and products and services that deliver the most value are those that customers purchase. Without a deep understanding of specific customer issues, needs, and frustrations, it is impossible to sustain the development of solutions that deliver measurable value. Too often companies develop products and services that turn out to be “solutions looking for a problem.” However, companies that start with the customer issue or need and develop products and services which provide solutions to these issues are often the market leaders in delivering value to their customers.
Responding Quickly to the Customer
The final imperative for positioning a B2B sales and marketing organization to win new business is developing a system to assure customers receive quick and complete responses to all requests and issues. Is your company meeting the challenge? Many assume they are, but in reality it is often an assumption based on perception…not data. To be assured your sales force is performing ahead of competition in responding to customer needs, performance must be measured. Below is an actual competitive assessment that was conducted for a packaging company. Their overall performance on attributes driving the business are generally rated ahead of competition (blue bars). However, in the critical area of “timeliness of response” their customers rate their performance behind competition (red bar highlighted in yellow).
Measuring performance and understanding your competitive position for the critical attributes that drive your business is paramount in developing and maintaining a competitive advantage.
Business 101 – Develop an Understanding of Customer Needs
In B2B sales and marketing, much of the future success of your organization is predicated on understanding customer needs. It should be at the center of the organization's culture. Once this occurs, value creation will be the hallmark of customer deliverables, and winning business in the complex B2B sales process will be commonplace.