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shifts in b2b buyer behavior
July 10, 2023

3 Ways B2B Buying Behavior Has Changed—Forever

shifts in b2b buyer behavior



It was July 2020—the middle of COVID Year 1—and the temperature had hit 95 degrees (F). Then, the AC on my beloved 2003 Toyota Highlander died. The cost to repair it was far more than the value of the automobile. I needed to buy a new car.

But we were in the middle of the pandemic. Shopping for a car the “traditional” way was out of the picture. So, I did what every buyer was doing when shopping those days. I fired up my MacBook, launched Google Search, and started researching my purchase.

I researched models, features, prices, and dealerships. I determined exactly what I wanted: a Toyota RAV4. And a dealership 15 miles away had one. Through the dealership’s website, I basically added the car to my basket and scheduled a test drive. I did the test drive by myself, and only after I was confident that I wanted to buy the RAV did I talk with a sales rep.

B2B Buying Behavior Changed Forever

The pandemic was the biggest digital disruption the world has seen, triggering new ways of working, communicating, and buying. And it altered buyers’ behaviors. I wasn’t the only one who wanted to control the buying process (a seller-free buying process). Further, virtual sales processes companies implemented because of health and safety concerns are now expected for nearly all purchases. B2B buyers want the B2C buying experience. There’s no going back to what I call “the before times.”

That sounds like a sales problem, right? Wrong. It is, in fact, a marketing, sales, and enablement problem. It’s a revenue team problem. If those functions are not in lock step, a business cannot run effectively.

3 Ways B2B Buying Behavior Has Changed

B2B buying behavior has shifted in three key areas, creating challenges for revenue enablement teams:

1. Buyers are savvier than ever.

B2B buyers are 57% to 70% through their buying research before contacting a sales rep, according to Forrester. They perform as much research as they can before having to talk to a seller. Not only that, but 67% of buyers are opting away from in-person interactions, research from McKinsey & Co. reveals.

It’s imperative, therefore, that sellers are prepared when buyers do ask for help. They must provide expertise and value. And they must give buyers a stellar experience, as 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services, according to Salesforce research.

B2B buyers are 57% to 70% through their buying research before contacting a sales rep.

— Forrester

2. Buying teams are larger than ever.

Today, complex B2B purchases involve 11 individual stakeholders and sometimes up to 20 people, according to Gartner. This makes it harder for sellers to understand the power dynamics of a buying committee. It also makes it incredibly difficult for a seller to connect with and resonate with so many personalities and job roles within an account.

Communication and content play key roles in helping sellers do that. Sellers need marketing’s help to ensure they have the right content to educate and inform—available in their moment of need. And they need enablement’s help to create a welcoming, hyper-personalized and immersive buying experience. When sellers have those things, they are better able to act as trusted advisors to buyers, which is something 87% of business buyers expect from sales reps, Salesforce research shows.

3. Buyers have set a higher bar for the content they pay attention to.

Buyers’ attention spans have dropped to just 8 seconds, shrinking nearly 25% in just a few years, according to research from Microsoft. I’m a bit skeptical of this stat, however, since these same buyers will binge-watch a TV series for hours on end. At the same time, though, buyers’ standards for the types of content they engage with have risen. Those two things have made it extremely difficult to capture buyers’ attention—but not impossible.

To do so, teams must work together to create content that is impactful, pulls at buyers’ emotions, is highly personalized, and is modular. Sellers must also have the flexibility to apply content to their unique selling situations. Teams must also be able to measure engagement with content and be able to swap out content that buyers are not interested in.

Buyers’ attention spans have dropped to just 8 seconds.


Enablement’s Role in the Buying Journey

Sellers are under intense pressure to provide the best information, resources, and experience during each precious touchpoint with buyers. That means marketing and enablement teams must support them, creating convenient, self-serve experiences so buyers can research products and services on their own terms, as well as schedule demos and meetings when buyers are ready.

That may sound like a tall order, but modern revenue enablement makes it possible.

Modern revenue enablement turns sellers into teachers, aligns siloed teams, and gives your enablement technology stack a strategy. With it, you can deliver the buying experience today’s B2B buyers expect.

4 Ways to Engage Buyers More Effectively Using Enablement

  1. Use Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) to share hyper-personalized content with buying teams. With DSRs, sellers can create a customized, private selling space in which they include personal videos, invitations to events, sales collateral, product information, pricing, demos, chat capability, and more. They’re central hubs where sellers and buyers can communicate, share content, and align.
  2. Enable and encourage sellers to work together, share best practices, and learn from one another. This type of collaborative effort helps sellers improve their selling skills, share buyer-specific sales tips and advice, and ultimately achieve greater success.
  3. Give sellers the ability to use personalized video and live chat to communicate with buyers. Personalized communication helps sellers “maintain presence in absence” and build trust with buyers.
  4. Use a revenue enablement platform that provides real-time insight into content engagement and broader buying committees. Tracking engagement allows you to assess a buyer’s interest in the content and in moving forward in the buying journey.

Buyers don’t want to talk to your sellers. That’s the reality. Ninety-five percent of their buying journey will be solo. That means sellers must make every precious moment with them count. Modern revenue enablement makes it possible for them to do that by providing a hyper-personalized, immersive buying experience in which sellers consult and help. Customers may be the pilot on their buying journey, but modern revenue enablement ensures your sellers are the co-pilot.

Deliver the Experience B2B Buyers Expect

Download Modern Revenue Enablement: A Buyer-Centric Approach to Win Sales and Grow Revenue and learn how go-to-market teams can reach, engage, and win over more buyers.

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