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Business-to-business buying process is not only growing more complicated but according to experts, it has started following patterns that were first seen in consumer shopping.
They note that social network as well as mobile technology are invading the workplace and contributing to the sales process.
This, they add, is because most information about a company and its products or services can be obtained anywhere and at any time through the Internet.
According to them, the ‘consumerisation’ movement is changing how businesses buy and sell goods.
Business dictionary defines consumerisation as the process of enterprise technology being changed or influenced by new technologies emerging from consumer markets into professional arena.
Business-to-business buyers shop for deals
A survey by Avanade reveals that business-to-business buyers are proactively informing others about enterprise products and services in wide-ranging marketplaces of peer customers, industry experts and salespeople.
The. survey report titled, ‘The Consumerisation of enterprise sales,’ reveals that more than half (61 per cent) of buyers consult third-party sources before consulting a company’s sales force.
According to the report, these sources include third-party sites, feedback from a business partner, social channels and conversations with peers who already have experience with the product or service.
It explains, “These sources beyond the reach of a company’s sales force are a factor for 89 per cent of buyers when making business-to-business buying decisions. Not only are business-to-business customers seeking information about products from a variety of sources, they are also communicating about their business purchase decisions publicly.
“A bad customer experience has long-term and far-reaching implications. After purchasing a product or service for their company, 42 per cent of buyers reviewed a company on a third party.”
Reviews are made on social media
Avanade report says roughly one-third (32 per cent) posted a review on social media channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn and nearly one in five (19 per cent) posted comments about the company on Twitter.
It adds that these posts create an ongoing cycle for purchasing decisions as the information posted publicly by one business-to-business buyer will likely be used by a peer in another decision.
According to the report, in October 2013, Forrester’s David Cooperstein summarises this trend in the ‘Competitive strategy in the age of the customer’ report saying, “With online reviews and mobile web access, your customers know more about your products, your service, your competitors and pricing than you do.”
B2B buyers are copying consumer shopping behaviours
The relationship between (business-to-business) buyers and sellers is expanding far beyond the reach of a company’s sales force, the report says.
Avanade says this is because 61 per cent of business-to-business buyers in the survey report that third-party sites, feedback from business partners, industry peers or social media channels have proved to be useful more than discussions with an organisation’s sales teams when making a purchasing decision.
It points out that business-to-business is next in line in the consumerisation movement.
Technology is seen as the cause and the cure
Avanade says that most companies are responding to technology-driven changes in their sales process by modifying organisational roles and investing in IT.
The survey shows that nearly half (45 per cent) of respondents say that Information Technology plays a greater role in the overall customer experience than in the past.
It adds that 40 per cent attest to the fact that IT contributes significantly to the strategic direction of a company.
Companies can monetise customer experiences
The survey shows that the value of the customer experience surpasses cost as the top factor in a business-to-business purchasing decision.
This is because customers report that they are willing to pay up to 30 per cent more for a superior experience, the report says.
Read More:How to Increase your customer base
It adds, “More than half (56 per cent) of those surveyed report paying more for a product in the last six months because the customer experience was better than other less expensive options. Businesses that embrace these changes are outperforming peers.
“Sixty per cent of companies that have built new business processes and technologies to accommodate shifts in customer interactions report increased revenue – while 60 per cent also report a larger customer base and 61 per cent report a growth in customer loyalty.”
By IFE ADEDAPO