Business buyers are turning to online sources, other influencers while making buying decisions mimic buy process of consumers.
Labeled “consumerization” by some experts, this process is radically transforming how B2B companies sell to other businesses.
According to a study from technology solutions and managed services provider Avanade, enterprise buyers have begun to mimic consumer shopping behaviors, shifting the sales process out of the control of the seller.
"Businesses have lost control of the sales process, and B2B and B2C buying models are merging," said Mick Slattery, exec VP-global service lines at Avanade, in a statement. "It's no longer business-to-business or business-to-consumer–it's business-to-everyone. Those businesses that understand the nature of today's complicated customer relationships are creating longer-term and more lucrative relationships with customers."
The report, "B2B is the New B2C: The Consumerization of Enterprise Sales," found that when making a purchasing decision, 61 percent of B2B buyers tap third-party sites and feedback from business partners, industry peers or social conversations before engaging a company's sales teams. What's more, a staggering 89 percent said these resources figure into their final purchase decision.
"Social networks and mobile technologies are invading the workplace and contributing to a decentralized sales process," the report said. "Information about a company and its products or services is available everywhere–whether the product is manufacturing equipment sold to businesses or a refrigerator sold to consumers. B2B buyers are shopping at work like they do at home."
Additionally, not only are B2B buyers consulting third-party sources outside of company sales teams, they are also sharing insight into their purchases publicly. After purchasing a product or service, 42 percent of B2B buyers left a review about the company they purchased from on a third-party website. Roughly one-third (32 percent) posted a review on social media channels such as Facebook or LinkedIn and nearly one in five (19 percent) posted comments about the company on Twitter.
This means the customer experience should be prioritized more than it has been at B2B companies in the past. And buyers will reward those companies that do so—they are willing to pay up to 30 percent more for a product or service that offers an improved customer experience, the report said.
Those B2B companies that are investing in technology and modifying internal roles to boost that customer experience are seeing positive results. Specifically, they are experiencing increases in customer loyalty (61 percent), revenues (60 percent) and customer base (60 percent).
Avanade's study, conducted in October in conjunction with Wakefield Research, surveyed 1,000 C-level executives and IT decision-makers in the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.
For more: -See Avanade's report