It’s no secret that B2B selling has changed dramatically over the past several years. Today’s buyer is more informed, more price sensitive, and more demanding than ever before. This is largely because global access to information about your products (and those of your top competitors) has exploded in the B2B space. The digitally savvy buyer is 70% of the way to making a purchasing decision before ever engaging with your sales team. Which begs the question – where do buyers spend that first 2/3 of their time and how do they find out about the products and services they buy?
According to Sales Force, B2B buyers rely on a number of resources to find information before making a purchase decision, but online sources are considered most useful.
- 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process
- 90% of buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations from peers
- Nearly 70% of B2B buyers research an increasing amount of content to evaluate their purchases
- 59% of buyers prefer to do research online
Social Media’s Value Still Uncertain
3 out of 4 buyers, according to an IDC study, use social media to research buying decisions, leaving very little wiggle room for B2B marketers in how aggressively they adopt social media strategies within their marketing mix.
The fact is that social media is heavily used by B2B decision makers as a key research channel. And the increasing reliance on social signals by the major search engines means that social media will remain an important part of your marketing mix for the foreseeable future.
Taking Back Control of the Sale
Never before have conditions offered B2B marketers such a clear opportunity to seize competitive advantage. Those businesses that recognize the change in buyer behaviour, and move quickly to adapt their traditional sales processes to the new digital reality will win the sales game in the coming year.
Adopting a culture of Inbound Marketing has undeniable competitive advantages in this new buying environment. Those businesses that succeed will be the first to engage prospects during the crucial first 2/3 of the buying process, defining the sales conversation, and owning the competitive landscape.
Is Your Business Ready for Inbound?
Inbound Marketing has significant implications for the future growth of your business. And like anything worth doing, it requires more than a passing commitment. Not every business has the right stuff to take advantage of the goldmine of leads offered by an inbound strategy. We recently wrote a blog post about how to find out if Inbound Marketing is right for your business that offers a great place to start.
*This article originally posted on September 9, 2013 has been updated on May 1, 2018 to reflect current statistics and practices.