Connecting with B2B Buyers in a Virtual World

Connecting with B2B Buyers in a Virtual World

Over the last nine months, I’ve talked with hundreds of businesses, and many have been struggling to reach new buyers.

People with deep industry connections say booking calls with existing contacts during the pandemic has been easy, but everyone is struggling with developing new relationships in a virtual environment among decision makers they don’t know.

Without conferences, trade shows, banquets, mixers and other means to meet new prospects, many have resorted to cold-call outreach as one of the now-limited options to build business. According to LinkedIn, cold calls and cold emails are an immediate turn-off, with only 4 percent of buyers reporting favorable impressions. However, when sales representatives reach out through mutual connections, the meter jumps to 87 percent favorability. Clearly, utilizing existing relationships to get referrals and establish new business is the fast track to connecting with new buyers.

What Should Sales People Do?

What do B2B sales team members do who have no relationships to lean on for referrals? How can you reach prospects? B2C offers some great tips, some of which can be transferred to the B2B world. Warby Parker, for instance, pioneered apps and software to virtually “try-on” eyewear. MTailor has made its mark in custom tailored fashion using an easy app utilizing a cellphone camera to measure customers for the company’s bespoke clothing, and guaranteeing the fit is just right. What do these strategies have in common? A personal and uncomplicated experience that’s different for every customer.

Think about what makes your company unique and interesting. Are there ways to transfer that experience to a virtual environment? We’ve spent some time exploring this idea among our colleagues and customers, and learned a lot about what and what not to do.

Understanding Today’s B2B Buyers

The first step is understanding how people buy today.

At the beginning of a purchase decision, B2B buyers act like B2C buyers, utilizing online resources to narrow down options. Positioning yourself to take advantage of this and inspire calls from B2B buyers requires relevant, compelling and easily accessible content.

Thanks to the internet, the purchase cycle is heavily weighted toward buyers. Most purchase considerations have been made before buyers reach out to you. They’ve read reviews, visited your website, researched competitors and sought out the opinion of others before picking up the phone.

Changing the Marketing Mindset

In a study conducted by Uberflip, B2B buyers preferred user reviews and product tours from vendors over the longform written content and white papers many marketers (who should frankly know better) still prioritize. It’s not that this written content doesn’t have a place, it simply can’t be the only place. People absorb information differently and now more than ever online access must address those differences to meet the needs of buyers whose only access to your company is through technology.

You may be wondering, “but there’s a pandemic.” A well-produced and cost-effective video can easily take the place of plant tours. Some manufacturers, like Audi, are actually live-streaming plant tours and providing personal guides. That level of sophistication may be out of reach for some, but the experience of a plant tour can still be achieved with video.

So, for sales success in 2021,

  • Ask clients for referrals and be quick to leverage the opportunities
  • Utilize positive reviews in marketing materials, including websites, eBlasts, video content, etc. This could take the form of a quote or a testimonial
  • Create a plan for producing simple, short (2-3 minute) videos of your manufacturing process. This could be done in a series to help your sales team answer buyer’s questions by sharing specific links that quickly zero in on the answers. Focus on communicating the advantages and benefits of your products
  • Integrate streaming video into business development opportunities to grow your audience and provide live interaction with prospects
  • Grab your camera and shoot and edit some videos on your own. There are easy-to-use editing programs available that will make you look and feel like a pro. But first, brush up on your video skills and techniques to best to tell your story.

For more tips on producing video, check out these previous posts appearing in the Axiom Ideas & Insights blog.
The Fiver: Tips for Successful Videos, and
Creating Viral Content: Tips for Video and Digital Campaigns

Contact Craig Dick for more information, cdick@axiomcom.com.

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