Social distancing isn’t just a challenge for consumer brands who rely on shoppers, diners and drinkers.
For B2B brands, not being able to meet people means no events, no face-to-face meetings, no experience days, roundtables or any number of other ways B2B brands use human contact to sell.
In B2B, people often still buy people, so being unable to get close to customers is a serious threat to business success.
But if our buying experience relies heavily on people being in the same room how do we find ways to make this happen virtually?
This is where marketing can help. Marketers are the experts at changing minds and behaviour from afar. But first marketers need to reframe their role from simply providing covering fire for the sales team, to getting right in the trenches with them, driving sales.
Of course, social distancing is merely accelerating buying behaviours that have been changing for a long time.
We all know these stats – over 50% of the customer journey is complete by the time a sales person is involved in a buying process, and much of the decision has been made by the time a customer reaches out to you. Forward-thinking companies have been digitising their buying process for a long time, using website content, video or live chat to complement their sales teams.
However, for those brands still hesitating and relying heavily on a human sales force, your time has come. Brands simply have to find ways to engage with customers in a digital, non-contact environment, or find themselves irrelevant.
Of course, there is still a vital role for sales people as consultants and configurators, tailoring services to suit large, complex customers. But you simply can’t rely on force of personality to get deals done
So where do you start?
Always begin by mapping out the current buying experience. We use experience mapping workshops where we map out your current buying experience, phase by phase, touchpoint by touchpoint, for your key customer personas. We can run these workshops virtually (of course) and include a wide range of stakeholders, from sales and account management to R&D and marketing.
Once we see what the current buying experience looks like, we get a sense for where pain points are, and where we’re over-reliant on human contact to move a sale along. For example:
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5 small steps to check the health of your digital experience
Now’s the time to innovate, test and learn. Those with a seamless digital buying experience will suddenly have a huge advantage, but that shouldn’t put others off. The sooner you get up to speed and invest time in your overall digital experience the better you’ll weather these uncertain times, the better you will serve customers and the more ready you will be to leap back to growth once the downturn is over.
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