5 Big Changes in B2B Buying Behavior

If you’re a B2B marketer — especially a services provider — your environment is about to be upended. Customers are changing, and so are the ways they buy. I’ve been struck recently by five glaring developments in business buying behavior that you need to know about.

If you’re a B2B marketer — especially a services provider — your environment is about to be upended. Customers are changing, and so are the ways they buy. I’ve been struck recently by five glaring developments in business buying behavior that you need to know about.

And once you know, you must consider how to adapt and, better yet, turn the changes to your advantage. Consider these.

The Arrival of Millennials in Business Buying Positions

These 30-somethings are rapidly migrating from researcher and specifier into decision-making roles. I’ve written about this before, offering ideas for how marketers can cope. But I also see this development as part of a larger trend that has deep implications for how we need to be selling and marketing today.

Use of Ratings and Reviews Sites in B2B

Comparison sites in the mold of TripAdvisor and Yelp have entered the B2B buying process; especially in crowded categories, like software and services. You’ll find ratings sites like TrustRadius, Capterra (now owned by Gartner), Clutch.co and G2Crowd, where users leave product reviews — and sellers quake in their boots. Here are some tips for how marketers can take advantage of this new channel.

Expanded Customer Requirements for Compliance

Long prevalent in government buying, companies of all sizes are increasing their requirements of vendors in areas such as sustainability, diversity, and — for manufacturers in such categories as apparel — wages, working conditions, and safety. Christine Crandell brought this to my attention recently, with examples like Marriott embracing the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 as a source of competitive differentiation, and how event planners are routinely making venue carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions an evaluating criterion in property selection.

Buyers Are Bringing Their Consumer Expectations With Them to Work

They want fast, personalized service, pricing transparency, ease of use, a human face, seamless integration across contact channels, and mobile access. We know this, but are we stepping up?

Enterprise Buying Platforms Mature

B2B buying has long been enabled by EDI, supplier exchanges, and e-procurement. But the pace is accelerating — fast. A new entrant is Globality’s platform that helps large enterprises buy services. According to Kathy Chin Makranyi, head of corporate marketing, Globality’s founders recognized that services procurement is inefficient, and ripe for change. So, they set up an AI-enabled platform that manages the entire buying process, enabling buyers to write the RFP, identify a short list of candidates — even inviting incumbents to participate, conduct the bidding process, hire for and manage the project, and handle the billing. Globality has vetted and recruited over 17,000 services providers to the platform, giving enterprises access to entirely new potential vendors. And the platform saves both time and money in managing the competitive bidding process.

“It’s a marketplace between the global 500 and a network of worldwide providers. The big services firms, the McKinseys, KPMGs, and Accentures will play, too, because it makes their sales cycles faster and easier. If you go with the incumbent, you’ve confirmed they are the best choice. Sourcing team[s] can learn and validate their work. And a provider who lost can find out ways to improve next time,” explains Makranyi.

Calling all consultants, accountants, lawyers, agencies — here’s your chance to compete on a level playing field for enterprise accounts.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Are You Buying Marketing Tech Too Casually?

For the past couple months, I’ve been working on our research report, “The Marketing Tech Buying Process.” And one thing really surprised me: A lot less formal prep and discussion is going into those purchases than I expected. Are marketers buying their technology too casually?

For the past couple months, I’ve been working a lot on our most recent research report, “The Marketing Tech Buying Process.” And one thing really surprised me: There is less formal prep and cross-departmental discussion going into those purchases than I expected.

Which raises the question: Are marketers buying their technology too casually?

For starters, most technology requirements are set by a single person or team. Only about a third of our respondents have multiple teams or cross-functional teams working on it.

Marketing Technology Buying Process: "Who typically defines the requirements and technology selection criteria?" Then, when we looked at the processes marketers use to prepare for the purchase and to evaluate success after implementation, we found most marketers rely on informal processes.

For example, in preparing for the purchase, only three processes were used by a majority of our respondents, and two of them were budget-focused. When it came to setting functional requirements, the most-used process is informal requirements assessment.

Prior to beginning the research and procurement process for a significant marketing technology investment, what steps do you take?And it was the same in follow-up: The most used process was informal.

Are informal processes really the best way to decide what tech you need and whether or not a purchase was successful?

As marketing technology is becoming more important, and the overall customer experience is becoming a more important marketing KPI, shouldn’t more departments have input on what you need?

After all, these are important purchases. As one respondent said, “I cannot afford to buy a lemon. My job depends on it. I cannot afford to buy it twice or lose time that I need.”

So what do you think? Is your marketing department buying technology too casually? Or is this the best way to do things? Do you worry about having too many cooks in the kitchen when you’re trying to get that marketing tech stack souffle to rise?

Let me know in the comments.

And if you want to see more,  click here to download the complete report.