B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
The enterprise B2B sales journey is no longer transactional, it is about education and building partnerships with your customers.
How have buying preferences changed in recent years?
Enterprise sales organizations need to be mindful of how today’s B2B customers want to buy. This can be tricky for sales teams who are under pressure from their sales leaders to close deals and therefore want as much interaction as possible with buyers in the early stages of their buying journeys. The problem is that buying preferences have changed signiﬁcantly in recent years. Buyers only want to speak with sales people in the latter stages of their buying journey and, more often than not, prospects don’t need to (or want to) follow a seller- assisted buying journey that was common in the pre-digital era. Therefore, it is up to sales organizations to provide personalized buying experiences without imposing means of communication that customers simply don’t want.
To achieve this, organizations need to embrace the concept of human-assisted buying experiences that take place in the digital world. Firstly, this means empowering buyers to do their own research on your business and products or services, along with serving content on the platforms they regularly use and promoting content through people they already trust. It also means participating in, and sometimes even creating, relevant digital communities. The truth is that many buyers are having private conversations online without the seller even knowing, which is why it has become so crucial for organizations to provide educational content that can be easily accessed across their website and social media channels. The enterprise B2B sales journey is no longer transactional, it is about education and building partnerships with your customers.
even though we can conduct business virtually now, as humans we still need face-to-face interaction both professionally and personally.
Will virtual selling replace in-person sales?
Enterprise level business decisions are increasingly being made through virtual channels, so sales teams need to invest in their virtual selling interactions and processes. But this is not to say that in-person sales interactions will become non-existent. One thing that we all learned from the global pandemic is that even though we can do most things in business virtually now, as humans we still need face-to-face interaction both professionally and personally. This is where attending conferences and events becomes extremely valuable. These in-person events complement virtual selling programmes by offerring buyers the chance to secure in-person time with potential vendors, without having to commit to a dedicated sales meeting.
What opportunity does LinkedIn present selling organizations?
LinkedIn is the largest virtual community for business professionals and many conversations take place on the platform including decisions on B2B purchases. Whilst it may be frustrating to organizations that they cannot see or inﬂuence the private conversations, LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity for these organizations to build trust with prospective buyers. If businesses can help their buyers to build their own social capital and brand, then it helps them to cut through the noise and build better relationships in a shorter period of time. Engaging with the content of your buyers online, sharing your insights directly with them and featuring customers on your website are all good ways to help buyers build their social capital. If you have a business podcast, then inviting your buyers on is a great way to establish them as industry experts and strengthen your relationship with them. For some businesses this may require a mindset shift away from the sale being a transactional experience and adopting the mindset of building a partnership together.