The Age of Business Relations: A B2B Manifesto for the Next Decade, Powered by Cutting-Edge Industry Research

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The B2B game is changing. The sales process has transformed, customers are demanding more options, and marketers are grappling with issues of data, privacy, and more. 

How can your B2B company stay ahead of the pack? Here’s our B2B manifesto, backed by our team’s decades of experience and the latest research. 

1) Every Business Problem at its Core is a Relationship Problem.

If your b2b business isn’t thriving today, it is fundamentally due to a business relations problem. According to B2B International, most businesses lose 45 to 50 percent of their customers every five years. Why? A lack of relationship and trust with the brand. 

Did you know, 80% of business buyers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time? And, 70% of b2b buyers cite company reputation as the most influential factor when choosing which company to do business with. If you want to solve a business problem, find and solve the relationship problem first. 

Relationships Drive Revenue.

2) Close First, Convince Later.

According to Gartner, 60% of B2B prospects have already made a decision BEFORE they ever reach out to your company. Talking to a sales rep is often their last step. 

This is why it’s paramount that you CLOSE first and convince later. More buyers today do post-purchase research than ever before. They buy and then want reassurance that they made the right decision. So, close them first. Make sure they choose you before they reach out and then convince them that it was an excellent decision. People believe they get what they pay for.

3) You Already Have a Brand. Is it by Default or by Design?

Your business has a brand. It goes beyond your logo and your tagline. It’s your reputation and it is precisely what precedes you. What do your buyers say when you aren’t in the room? 

70% of b2b buyers cite company reputation as the most influential factor when choosing which company to do business with, and 63% of consumers need to hear company claims three to five times before they actually believe it (via Edelman Trust Barometer). Even if you’ve never architected your brand, it has been done for you. Every single individual and company today has a brand. The only question is this: was it by default or by design?

4) Alignment Beats Attention.

Attention has been touted as the solution to all marketing ails. How do you stand out in the noisy digital age? Get Attention! But, that’s not quite the answer. 63% of consumers think marketing wastes time trying to force prospects to pay attention instead of making them want to pay attention. Forget about attention. Instead, align with your buyer’s goals, needs, and desires. The key for any b2b company looking to succeed in the digital age is to look beyond attention to the 3 Rs to achieve alignment.

  • Establishing Relevance
  • Gaining Respect
  • Building Solid Business Relationships

5) The B in B2B Doesn’t Stand for Boring.

Save the consistency and dependability for your products and services, not your marketing. Marketing today needs to standout. Not in an obnoxious way but in a way that’s relevant and memorable, and boring is not memorable. Many b2b companies are still marketing like its the 80’s – handing out mugs with logos and tri-fold brochures with stock photos. This does NOT work for the digital age. The majority of b2b buyers are now millennials. They aren’t standing around the watercooler discussing the logo on your mug. They are however sharing the funny ad they found on LinkedIn and re- tweeting industry infographics.

6) Evangelism is the New Sales Methodology. Who Are Your Disciples?

Think influencer marketing is just for b2c companies? Think again. Peer to peer recommendations are the lifeblood of b2b companies. While B2C influencer marketing often utilizes a prominent consumer or well-known celebrity, B2B influencer marketing depends on someone who is considered a thought leader in the business world. You can partner with these influencers and they will be your de facto marketing and sales team!

7) Focus on the Experience, Not the Evaluation.

Products and services are evaluated, brands are experienced. When you are evaluated, you become a commodity and hence easily replaceable. If you can make every touchpoint count and elevate the customer experience, you make your competition irrelevant. And, make no mistake, your buyers are comparing the b2b buying experience to their b2c experiences. 65% of Millennials believe the technologies they purchase for personal use influence the technologies they purchase for their organization. 55% of Generation X and 57% of Baby Boomers feel the same. (Spiceworks)

8) Social Media is Simply an Abbreviation for “The Current State of the Internet.”

Don’t let the term “social media” throw you. It hardly means Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Yes, those are social networks but today “social media” is slang for the internet. It’s how your prospects communicate with you, how your future employees decide whether to work for you and how your customers feel about doing business with you. 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions. (Source IDC)

9) The Higher Your Share of Voice, The Higher Your Market Share.

Share of Voice (SOV) is a measure of the market your brand owns compared to your competitors. What percentage of the overall digital space is yours? How much do you dominate the industry conversation? Is your brand the first that comes to mind when your buyers think about your industry? A study done by Millward Brown found that brands that increase their digital SOV increase their market share over time.

10) Business Isn’t Won By The Best.

It’s won by the one that’s PERCEIVED to be the best. If you’ve ever lamented that you don’t understand why your customers would choose your competitors when your product or service is superior, it is because they are being perceived as the better choice. Perception is reality. Salesforce reported that 55% of buyers are even willing to pay more if they THINK they will have a better experience.

11) Your Competition Isn’t Your Competitors.

It’s the modern B2B Buyer’s expectations. Ten years ago, if you had a website while the rest of your competitors still had a catalog, you were winning. Today, you aren’t being compared to your competitors. The b2b buyer of today is comparing doing business with you to every other b2b AND b2c transaction they’ve had. In fact, 80% of B2B buyers expect real- time interaction. And, if you think personalization is just for b2c brands…think again. 65% of business buyers say that they’d likely switch brands if a company didn’t make an effort to personalize communications with their business.

12) People Are Now the Media.

Imagine that your b2b prospect is a beat reporter in the ’50s and you are trying to pitch to them. They are 1) skeptical 2) inundated 3) want you to make their lives easier 4) hate “noise” – they want a relevant pitch – something their readers will actually appreciate and is aligned with their beat. It drives them nuts when you try to get their attention but haven’t done your research and aren’t aligned with what they need. BUT, when you do earn their trust and build a relationship, they will reward you with greater visibility, loyalty, and revenue than you can imagine!

Learn how we can help your b2b brand succeed in today’s digital age. 

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