B2B buyers research mostly online nowadays. A recent Forrester study found that more than half B2B buyers research the supplying companies themselves as their major source of information.
Buyers, inevitably, consult with colleagues, even competitors, refer back to previous investigations and experience. But these merely echo chambers to the plethora of information found online.
Therefore whatever information is online about a product or service has to be complete, accurate and positive.
More importantly, it has to be broad enough, personalized enough, to satisfy a wide range of researchers, not all of whom have to same needs or perspectives or even use the same sources or content.
Every product needs omnichannel exposure in order to be available by whichever resource, device or channel the researchers, who are always several within a corporation or FI., choose to use to find the information they require. A good research team will review and compare information from several sources and from different channels in order to get perspective.
Instead of hastening the buyer process, digital has made it slower because it is complex. Very often, the first stumbling block is defining what is needed, the stage defined by the Gartner study as Problem Identification. Many departments in the corporation or FI may be able to see that something “needs to be done” but are not necessarily able to define this quickly in digital terms. The second stage, according to the Gartner study, is that of Solution Exploration.
Procurement staff may not be totally aware of the latest digital developments which are available to solve the problem, not from incompetence but simply because the changes are coming so fast. They may tend towards a customized solution, which would take even longer to produce, simply because they are not aware of how existing platforms can be customized. This is where omnichannel exposure of the products available to the digital researchers has to assume that the potential buyers are leading with their problem or need, not with the potential solution which is probably out in front of their current knowledge.
Once a potential solution is discovered, the procurement staff has to go back and review their needs, the third stage called by Gartner Requirements Building. They have to revalidate their conclusions and then build consensus among all the colleagues involved in the different departments. Like most projects, the planning phase is the most essential and takes at least as much time, if not longer, than the construction and implementation phases.
The economic and strategic benefits of digitalizing the procurement process are obvious. This encourages sellers of everything to rush head-long into digital marketing but the proliferation of available and often competing platforms makes it difficult to know where to start. The confusion can be cleared and the decision process shortened by employing the services of an expert who knows the seller´s industry intimately and also knows his market, as well as available digital solutions, including those which are ahead of the curve.
A professional marketing consultant can help a client´s marketing team play a strategic role in accelerating their company´s digital innovation to understand and anticipate their client´s information needs during the problem identification, solution exploration and requirements building stages of procurement which lay the groundwork for closing the eventual sale.