Business-to-business (B2B) buying cycles have grown increasingly complex over the years, with 77% of buyers agreeing their last purchase was over complicated. Typically, the B2B buying cycle can last from a couple of weeks to months, with an average of 6 to 10 people involved, according to Gartner. Most of those involved are millennials who have arguably shaped expectations for the future of B2B sales, demanding a more personalized and B2C-like experience.
Below, we’ll explore in more detail what millennials expect from vendors and the brands they work for.
Personalized Shopping Experiences
One study found that 73% want a personalized buying experience similar to the one that B2C sales provide. B2C sales are very much an A to B method of sale with consumers guided towards A with targeted and personalized ads. Thanks to the development of artificial intelligence, B2B brands can implement similar strategies by using the technology to track buying habits and searches and then send targeted ads based on that.
According to research, B2B customer-experience index ratings fall significantly behind B2C ratings – on average, B2B brands score below 50%, whereas B2C brands sit between 65 and 80%. That indicates a real need for the B2B industry to incorporate personalization and focus on customer experience management.
Employee Engagement Strategies
The buyers don’t just want vendors to focus on them; they want their employers to recognize and reward their work. Numerous strategies work. Virtual business credit cards, for example, that allow employees to put expenses like food, gas, or any other agreed expenses are a great perk that is great for employee retention and engagement.
Similarly, employee engagement programs work well for encouraging productivity and help to create an excellent working culture. One survey found that 47% of employees want to receive rewards spontaneously, and the same study found that 38% of employees surveyed wanted to be rewarded for their good work. It’s a natural human instinct to crave recognition and reward.
Gartner highlighted buyer enablement as one of the essential parts of the buying cycle. They highlighted how complex the buying cycle is and how beneficial it is to focus on buyer enablement, which does what it says on the tin – enables buyers to progress through the buying cycle with ease. Their research found that buyers who perceived the information provided by vendors as useful were three times more likely to close a large sale without regrets.
Essentially, it means helping buyers know what to do and when to do it and helping them complete discrete job-related activities. That might involve a dedicated team to support buyers through their journey, including everything from product research to fulfillment. The more information they’re armed with, the easier their buying cycle will be.
Buying teams have increased over the years, with more people than ever now involved with one sale – it’s harder to meet the needs of many rather than one individual. Millennials are now the backbone of that buying cycle, and it’s essential to tailor communication and rewards towards their wants and needs.
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