The old saying “it’s not what you say but how you say it” seems to have a heightened importance for today’s B2B marketers. While B2B companies focus much of their energy and resources on creating, marketing and selling their products and services, it turns out the way they offer them may be just as important to B2B buyers.
That’s the underlying theme of a new study, “How to Meet Buyers’ Demand for (Better) B2B eCommerce,” by Sapio Research on behalf of Sana Commerce. The study is based on responses from 560 B2B buyers worldwide, and sheds some important insights into how they prefer to engage with their suppliers.
Here are five key findings and takeaways for B2B marketers:
- Email is still the go-to communications channel: According to the report, email remains the leading B2B buying channel, preferred by 41% of buyers, compared to ecommerce (28%) and over the phone (21%). Furthermore, 57% of those surveyed desire quotes delivered via email, compared to only 34% via phone and 36% online. Email clearly remains the go-to business buying and communications medium of B2B buyers.
- Search and third-party sources influential: Almost half (47%) of B2B buyers conduct web searches when investigating solutions and providers, and over a third (37%) will visit a supplier’s website to vet the company, products and services. Almost that many are further influenced by customer reviews (36%) or word of mouth (30%), compared to the supplier’s own sales people (31%). The takeaway here is to build a strong website that is optimized for search engines to rank your content highly (ideally on the first page of search results), and have a good stable of positive customer reviews and other resources for your prospects to peruse – and not just rely on your own sales people to tell your story.
- Speak their language: According to the report, top key performance indicators (KPIs) that B2B buyers are looking for are cost savings, increasing efficiencies and satisfying their internal clients/users. Thus, be sure your emails, website, materials and references are able to clearly, effectively communicate these benefits of your products or services.
- Simplify: Two-thirds (67%) of B2B buyers say they want to see products and parts information online, 65% want to know product availability and 63% desire delivery details. In addition, 62% want to pay online, and 60% desire payment term details online as well. The takeaway here is to provide all this information via email or on your website – don’t make your prospects search for this or hide it to encourage additional, personal interaction. Doing so may cause them to simply leave to a competitor who better communicates such information.
- Create a digital sales process: In addition to the above, B2B buyers prefer vendors who deliver a seamless, transparent sales process, such as the ability to track orders online (39%), order through an online sales portal (38%), and manage returns (34%) and pay invoices (33%) online. B2B buyers today desire to conduct as much and as many of their transactions electronically and will prioritize vendors who can deliver such digital sales processes for them over those who utilize out-of-date, manual paper- or people-intensive processes.
All of these changes are occurring as millennials have become a bigger part of the workforce. In fact within the next two years, they are expected to make up 50 percent of the U.S. labor pool as baby boomer retire. As demographics evolve, it’s important to understand and adapt to the changing needs of your B2B buyers. This will allow you to significantly boost your chance of being selected by them – and prepare your company for the future generations of buyers that will follow behind them.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.