Whether you work in sales, marketing or another customer-focused role within a manufacturer, you’ve probably taken notice of the chatter around the changing B2B buyer. Perhaps you’ve even noticed some changes in your direct customer base in terms of age, preferred channel for connecting with your business, and what they seem to expect when engaging with your business.
Keeping up with the ever-evolving customer is a challenge for most manufacturers. In a recent study, 94% of manufacturers surveyed agreed that their buyers want and expect the ability to research products and receive quotes without ever talking with a sales representative. Similarly, 95% of respondents in the manufacturing space agreed that digital transformation funds would be best spent on improving the buyer experience.
What Your Buyers Really Want
All the data indicate that modern buyers come with elevated expectations. But how can manufacturers best identify, meet and exceed those expectations? To get started, let’s take a look at three of the most pervasive traits we’ve come across:
Self-service is becoming the norm: In the manufacturing space, it’s common for businesses to assume that the “old way” of doing business, is the best way. However, with increasingly digital-native buyers making their way into decision-making roles, businesses must address the reality that customers are comfortable with discovering, researching and even transacting high-consideration products and services via digital channels.
With 68% of B2B firms stating that they are underway with a digital transformation project (get a copy of the study here), there need to be clear strategies and objectives regarding how to address self-service options for customers. Whether this means introducing an eCommerce solution, enabling vendors and resellers to easily sell configurable products through digital portals, or providing direct sales a means of conducting their engagements digitally.
View the complete study here
Buyers come with a healthy dose of skepticism: Today’s buyers are conditioned to being skeptical. It’s a byproduct of the B2C space where options are endless and researching and buying commoditized goods means doing your homework to ensure you get a quality product.
Manufacturers must take meaningful steps to build trust with their buyers. To be sure, many manufacturers have built brand trust, but that doesn’t mean today’s fickle buyers are unwilling to migrate to competitors that offer cheaper products and a more seamless experience.
To attract and retain today’s buyers, firms should lean on their expertise and provide buyers with a consultative experience. When it comes to high-consideration purchases, help customers configure, price and request a proposal independently, discover greater value through solution co-creation, buy more using up-sell and cross-sell recommendations, and easily navigate guided-buying engagements via digital platforms.
Buyers want quality content to self-educate: As we’ve said before, today’s buyers want to do their own homework when buying from your company. But what’s more frustrating than trying to educate yourself and there’s a complete lack of materials? Or even worse, the materials that are available are garbage? If this is the case with your business, you can be sure buyers will look elsewhere, regardless of how the relationship is with your sellers or brand.
Manufacturers should look to deliver quality content that provides buyers with the resources to make their own choices. This doesn’t just mean product data sheets or a slick website - although both will help. Videos are also important, and we’re not just talking about slick commercials. Consider 3M as their video content spans everything from slick, full-length demonstrations to pitchy 30-second demos showing their products in action.
Remember, providing quality content means understanding your buyer, what he/she is interested in getting from your company, and providing it to them when, where and who they wish to consume it.
Learn How CPQ is Helping Manufacturers Connect With Modern Buyers
Contact FPX and discover how our experience working with manufacturers has helped us develop the world’s best Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution for those who build and sell configurable products and services.