The digital revolution has drastically changed B2B buying and selling practices. Long gone are the days of two martini lunches; instead, businesses today need to communicate relevant value as quickly as possible.
A new report by RAIN Group involving approximately 500 B2B buyers and sellers provides some interesting insight into what marketers need to do to reach and convert this new breed of buyer. Here are my five takeaways from the report:
- Buyers desire content based on research and insight into solving business problems: According to the RAIN report, the top content that influences buyers to connect or take a meeting includes relevant primary research data (69%), content customized to the buyer’s own situation (67%), descriptions on sellers’ capabilities (67%) and insight into how products solve business problems (66%). The takeaway: marketers should lead with content that not only captures buyers’ attention, but more importantly, can be easily understood, verified and applied to the buyer’s journey.
- Buyers are conducting more initial research on their own: While B2B buyers would like to hear from sellers, they are not waiting for this. Instead, they are conducting more research on their own before ever contacting a seller for info on a specific solution. IDC says that up to 92% of B2B buyers prefer to start their buying journey online, and SiriusDecisions says 34% of executive-level buyers prefer to conduct online research before speaking with a colleague or industry analyst. The Corporate Executive Board estimates that buyers are 57% through their purchase process before they even initiate contact with a sales representative.
- Buyers want to be reached early in their process: As they are conducting their research, B2B buyers want to hear from sellers. According to the RAIN report, 71% of buyers want to hear from sellers when they are looking for new ideas to drive stronger business results, and 62% want to hear from sellers when they are actively looking for a solution. To be successful, marketers need to do their homework to tailor their messages to address specific business problems, describing how their solutions address them.
- Buyers want emails specific to their challenges: While email remains the preferred outreach channel by 80% of B2B buyers, they desire well-written communications that quickly convey value and relevance to their specific industries, companies and situations. That means no more generic, bulk email – in fact, only 5% of sellers say sending such bland, mass-market messages is effective anymore.
- Buyers may require multiple touch-points: According to the RAIN report, it will take between five and eight touchpoints via email and other mediums (e.g. phone, social media, etc.) to generate a meeting or conversation. That means sending one email and expecting a multitude of conversions may be wishful thinking for B2B marketers. As a result, they should prepare a multi-message campaign to attract B2B customers – and not simply to resend prior email messages. Again, the more specific the content the better: 31% of sellers say sending one-to-one emails manually after researching and customizing their message is extremely effective in reaching B2B buyers. Doing so demonstrates your time investment, understanding of the relevant business challenges and knowledge of the buyer’s unique situation.
While the digital age has changed the B2B buyer’s journey, B2B sellers can be successful if they understand what their buyers are looking for and invest the time and effort to consistently provide helpful, relevant insight, value and guidance.
How have you adjusted your marketing and selling practices for the changing B2B market?
Check out MarketingProfs for an infographic associated with the RAIN Group report.
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