What Businesses Need to Know About the B2B Buyer Journey
Many B2B organizations are making headway on their digital transformations, with the early adopters beginning to see notable improvements on efficiency and employee productivity. But it’s interesting to note that the majority of B2B organizations have focused their digitization efforts more on internal processes and systems, and less on customers. This needs to change.
B2B customers (more so than their B2C counterparts) demand greater access to digital tools when it comes to researching and buying products, with more than 75% of buyers doing more than half of their research online. And more than two-thirds of the B2B buying process takes place before the buyer even comes into contact with a human employee, according to Marketo. This means that digital initiatives should be an integral part of the strategy that marketing, sales and customer success teams put in place for optimizing the B2B buyer journey.
Recent research by McKinsey confirms the importance of B2B organizations investing in digital capabilities when it comes to the buyer experience. For one thing, B2B companies that perform well here are generating 8% more shareholder returns and a revenue compound annual growth rate that is five times that of their competition. Dig deeper and you’ll find that the importance of cloud communications to the B2B buyer journey quickly emerges.
Here are three of the ways the cloud improves the customer experience:
A Consistent Cross-Channel Experience
B2B buyers who spend time researching and purchasing through multiple channels ultimately spend more money, McKinsey finds. This speaks to the importance of properly integrated sales channels. From in-person interactions, online purchasing and the increased role of mobile devices in the buying process, customers must be able to move seamlessly from one channel to another as they evaluate services and vendors.
As important as it is for nurturing prospects, a successful cross-channel experience shouldn’t stop with the sale. Having a strong mobile enterprise strategy is essential for B2B companies across the entire customer lifecycle, and particularly after the sale. Buyers want to access account information, administration preferences and reports, as well as have the ability to request help or make payments from any device. The cloud enables B2B firms to integrate their phone systems with other communications channels such as video, chat and mobile apps, allowing business users and customers alike to have more streamlined experiences in whatever medium best suits their current situation.
More Personalized Customer Experience
The sheer volume of customer data creates new possibilities for B2B organizations, but only if properly leveraged. Sadly, just 15% of B2B companies feel they have a complete view of their customers, McKinsey says. However, with the easier integration capabilities offered by cloud technologies, organizations can utilize advanced analytics that provide a better picture of the customer journey. Sales reps, for example, can use this data to review specific customers’ interactions with company websites and mobile apps, review support calls and activities, and analyze overall application usage to determine everything from where a prospect is in the buying cycle to what features or add-ons might appeal to them. Similarly, customer service teams can provide more personalized implementation experiences based on pre-sale inquiries or proactively reach out to customers when new features that may interest them become available.
With a more holistic view of each customer’s interactions, B2B companies are empowered to provide more targeted marketing and more tailored service, further contributing to a better overall experience for B2B customers.
Increased Speed and Agility
When it comes to implementing digital tools and processes, speed is key. Yet few B2B companies have a rapid deployment program in effect. However, organizations that have adopted cloud communications are in a better position to enable IT teams to quickly test, pilot and scale the roll out new features and services – without the hardware costs typically associated with in-house upgrades and add-ons. While this is internally beneficial, of course, it also makes it easier for businesses to quickly integrate and test communications features that simplify the buying process or service experience for customers. This plug-and-play flexibility allows companies to rapidly optimize experiences to suit the preferences of their customer base, increasing win rates and customer loyalty as a result.
While the cloud and digitization are nothing new to B2B companies, many still have a long way to go to improve the buyer journey. If the benefits outlined thus far aren’t enough, here’s one more reason to consider accelerating your digital transformations: B2B digital leaders earn 3.5% more revenue and are 15% more profitable than their counterparts, according to McKinsey. Compelling food for thought.