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3 strategies for responding to the changes in the B2B buying journey

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

Tumultuous times have a way of changing our approach to many things, especially the decision-making process. Organizations with decades of internal processes built around making critical decisions were challenged to radically change during the global health crisis, as the norm seemed to change almost every month. And when those decisions involve purchases, that only complicates things.

As economic and social uncertainty continues to loom, some companies are realistically questioning how much money can be allocated to an investment right now. Is every investment a wise appropriation of funds? Small businesses can certainly attest to this fear, with a UpCity survey finding that 57% cut their spending during the global health and economic crisis. Those who left their spending intact opted for a budget redistribution and chose to spend more money on salary increases (34%), marketing (28%) or operations management (27%).

In the past, companies set approval thresholds to authorize spending up to certain dollar amounts. The decision for greater capital expenditure would, of course, be reserved for higher levels in the organization. Sure, leadership would collect feedback to provide more context about the purchase, but the final decision would be left to the C-suite.

However, a shift has taken place. It is no longer possible to collect input in the same ways as remote working and hybrid working have become commonplace. A meeting for larger expenses should be scheduled, although this can add months to the process. These roadblocks have led some companies to abandon processes that were set in stone for years.

Related: 6 fatal B2B sales mistakes to avoid

The changing face of B2B customer engagement

Companies working with these companies have responded quickly and evolved to accommodate the new many-to-many relationship that has emerged. An increasing number of people within the supplier communicate simultaneously with an increasing number of people at the customer, often across multiple locations and media. In many cases, this only increases the pressure on the company’s internal operations. It takes more time and energy to sync with a client to ensure message quality and consistency, mainly because B2B buyers are now moving in different directions.

With the evolution of the multi-step decision-making process, suppliers had to be prepared to support asynchronous communication. This way of connecting has led to a new trend in the B2B customer experience, where buyers ask for information, but not consistently. It is up to suppliers to meet them where they are with up-to-date information. All this leads to significant changes in suppliers’ internal operations.

Internal systems also had to change to handle this new style of remote decision-making. Video calling, video chat systems and so on are essential to align internal teams to facilitate consistent communication with buyers. Process-based decision tools are also quickly adopted. Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack and Adobe’s acquisition of Workfront illustrate how critical communication and decision-making between dispersed individuals has become central to maintaining B2B customer engagement throughout the B2B buying journey.

Related: 5 tips for developing your B2B sales

Introducing new B2B customer engagement strategies

B2B customer engagement strategies have changed. That fact cannot be denied. However, you still need to resolve B2B pain points to maintain customer relationships and stay in the good graces of your customer base. There are aspects of operations that may need a few tweaks to keep up with what’s ahead. Here’s what you can do to be prepared:

1. Get everyone on the same page

If you’re not aligned with your team, you won’t be able to provide relevant strategies to customers. Getting everyone on the same page sounds easy enough, but Sales team found that 86% of business leaders believe that ineffective collaboration and communication are the top two causes of business failure.

Don’t just focus on the tools and systems that facilitate collaboration and communication. They should already be there. Look at the processes involved. Like B2B pain points, are there obstacles to more effective communication? If there are, now is the time to find ways to streamline them internally.

2. Evaluate the order of communication

The order of communication with your customers should not be taken for granted. Just ask the 82% of decision makers who believe salespeople are not prepared for meetings, according to SiriusDecisions. A Forrester survey confirms this sentiment, with 78% of executives reporting salespeople are missing vital information. Another 77% believe these representatives do not understand their business issues or the purpose of the product.

To overcome these shortcomings, make sure your team members understand where customers are in their B2B buying journey. If a customer is still in the design phase and has yet to establish requirements, the company just sours to make a decision. Capture accurate data and clarify your B2B buyer insights to ensure you consistently meet customers where they are.

Related: Sharing Winning B2B Customer Stories: Showcasing an Effective Case Study

3. Embrace the new normal

You no doubt know by now that many change attempts fail due to internal resistance and a lack of management support. As such, you need to strengthen your internal change management competency to ensure you can continually adapt to customer requirements and an ever-evolving market.

The B2B buying journey has changed forever and is likely to change again in the very near future. Social and economic turmoil has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and led to continued improvements in how businesses connect. Properly addressing specific aspects of the B2B buying journey can ensure that your team is better positioned to handle whatever the future holds.

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Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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