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5 Hot B2B Buyer Behavior Trends To Guide Your Business Development Strategy

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Posted by John Beveridge on Jul 26, 2018 1:00:05 PM

5 B2B Buyer Behavior TrendsShowing empathy towards buyers is the key to business development success.

The ability to understand your buyers' pain points and the processes they need to go through to facilitate a purchase is essential to growing your business. It is the essence of sales enablement.

The DemandGen Report 2018 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey Report provides valuable insight into what's important to buyers. The 2018 B2B Buyers Survey "was conducted in June 2018 and polled 259 marketing executives. The respondents came from a variety of industries, with High Tech representing the largest share (31%), followed by Manufacturing (19%) and Professional Services (14%)."

We've picked out 5 key trends from the survey that every professional services business should consider in their business development strategy.

1. Buying Cycles Are Getting Longer (Again)

In what is becoming a recurring theme every year, the Survey showed that buying cycles are getting longer.

61% of buyers said their purchase cycle increased either significantly or somewhat when compared to 2017. The chart below provides deeper insight into lengthening buying cycles.

Buying Cycle Influences-1

Considerations for your business development strategy

  • It's extremely important to understand the buying process for potential opportunities before you pursue them. You need to know all of the people involved in the process and what their concerns and pain points are. You also need to know how the decision will be made. If you don't have a clear idea of how the process will work, it's unlikely that you will be successful. If your point of contact can't share this with you, they either don't know or are using you to fill out a spreadsheet. Work towards getting introduced to others in the buying process to understand the process better. If you can't get a good idea of how the decision will be made, it's probably a good idea to move on to other opportunities.
  • Develop a good understanding of how your prospects typically buy. If you know how buyers in your target market typically buy, you can apply that knowledge to new situations and work towards "filling in the blanks."
  • Don't give up if the process slows down. Try to find out why the process has slowed down and adjust your tactics accordingly.

2. A lot is happening in the first 3 months of the buying cycle

Whether you know it or not, buyers do a lot of research and start to form opinions in the first 3 months of their buying cycles. 

First 3 Months-1

Considerations for your business development strategy

  • Creating buyer-focused content that gets found can be the difference between making the short list or not. Content that addresses buyer pain points, potential solutions and demonstrates how you've solved similar problems is what buyers use to draw up their list of potential providers. A solid inbound marketing program focused on the keywords your buyers search for is essential to the modern buying process. Outbound marketing can supplement your inbound program, but relevant content is at the heart of all your demand generation efforts.
  • Buyers first look to see if an existing partner can help them solve their problems. It's important to stay close to your customers and make sure they're satisfied. Don't sell a service and leave the rest to your service team - you can miss upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
  • Reach out to buyers when they access your content. Not everyone who accesses your content is ready to buy, but some are. A soft outreach like, "I saw your downloaded our eBook on cybersecurity. Did you have any specific questions or are you just trying to learn more about cybersecurity?" can start a sales conversation early in the process. This drastically increases your chances of success. You can start to understand the buying process and shape the conversations on potential solutions.

3. Buyers reveal what is important in their evaluation process

It just makes sense to understand what's important to buyers. And it's not always what you may think it is. In the chart below, buyers reveal what's important to them.

What buyers evaluate-1

Considerations for your business development strategy

  • Price is always important, but other things are more important. Ease of use and implementation along with features and functionality are what's most important to buyers. That's what you need to focus on in your sales and marketing! Pay attention to price objections, but keep in mind buyers are focused on solving problems first.
  • Know your customers and focus on similar opportunities. If you follow this blog, you have likely heard us stress the importance of focus (more to follow!). All things being equal, the competitor that knows the company, its business and its people will win.

4. Buyers say focus is more important than ever

When asked what winning vendors did differently than the other vendors, buyers indicated that a knowledge of their world is paramount.

What did the winner do differently

Considerations for your business development strategy

  • Find a niche and become an expert. Today's buyer is looking for a specialist who understands her industry and her company - she's not looking for a generalist. By focusing on a market niche based on industry or other demographic factors, you can offer customized solutions and content. By doing so, you'll be able to fulfill the top two differentiators that buyers identified as being most important.
  • Content is essential in the modern buying process. Content is what gets you on the short-list and helps you move to a successful sale. Buyers want high-quality content that's easy to consume. Content should be the foundation of your business development process.
  • Know the buying process and be responsive. Not surprisingly, buyers indicated that responsiveness was important to them. I'm frequently surprised when I'm in a buying process how unresponsive some vendors are. I think, "if this is what they're like when they're selling, they will probably be unresponsive if I buy from them."

5. Buyers tell us what they want from websites

As we said, content is the foundation of your business development process and your website is where buyers access it. Here is what buyers want from your website.

What do buyers want from websites

Considerations for your business development strategy

  • Show your focus and expertise on your website. You specialize in a target market niche; make sure people who come to your website know where you focus and what you do within 5 seconds. Because if you don't, the buyer has bounced to the next competitor's site. As DaVinci said, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
  • Pricing transparency helps everyone. Buyers use pricing as a qualification criterion - they want to make sure the solutions they consider fit within their budget constraints. Likewise, you also want to use pricing to qualify. If a potential buyer can't pay you what you need to operate profitability, it's not worth expending limited resources on them.
  • Make your content accessible. For those of us who are generating leads with inbound marketing, there is a balance between generating leads with forms and making good content easy to access for people who are considering buying. There are different strategies on how to strike that balance, but keep in mind that people who are buying don't want to complete long forms.

We've talked in other posts about how to develop a winning business development plan. One of the elements of a good business development plan is the ability to adapt based on marketplace feedback. We highly recommend reviewing your existing business development plan in light of the 5 trends identified above. We're here to help - please feel free to schedule a free business development strategy consultation.

Topics: Business Development Strategy

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