WEBINAR RECAP: Win B2B Buyers Post-COVID
If you didn’t have the chance to catch the panel discussion on how you can win B2B buyers, don’t fret—in this blog we’ll highlight important moments you missed from the webinar. During the webinar, we heard from Peter O’Neill, Gregoire De Clercq, and Gerhard Otterbach.
Peter O’Neill is a Sales and Marketing Consultant and the Former VP, Research Director of B2B Marketing at Forrester.
Gregoire De Clercq is the EMEA Marketing Director at Rockwell Automation.
And Gerhard Otterbach is our very own Head of Corporate Business Europe here at Evalueserve.
The three panelists discussed the changing behavior in B2B buyers due to the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, how you can adjust your sales and marketing strategies to win more deals, and how the digital landscape has changed over the last year.
Changing B2B Buyers
Peter spoke about the changing behavior in B2B buyers:
“Buyers are really expecting something different, something additional, from the people they talk to, the potential vendors they talk to; most importantly marketing messages and of course the people that sell to them, being digitally now. They want to hear insights. They want to hear information that is relevant to their business or industry, but also business oriented, about their business not technology, features, or functions.”
Peter’s point is that buyers have changed their outlook on marketing and sales functions. The power of the buyer has increased, and they demand more value upfront from vendors and those trying to sell to them.
Regarding how the pandemic has changed B2B buyer behavior, he went on to say “Social events will happen less and I’m not even sure the aspect of social business will return. Buyers are less and less interested in the social aspect of B2B marketing. The whole buying process has definitely changed.”
Adjusting Your Sales and Marketing Strategies
Gregoire began this topic of discussion with background on the manufacturing industry at the height of the pandemic.
“Manufacturing was at a standstill. We were in the middle of some of that storm trying to help our customers as well. In the heat of that crisis, you had to find new ways to fast-track decisions, help advise your customers, and maintain existing relationships. Yes, technology helped us, but you had to find that normal content was not sufficient, it had to be more relevant. We had to face as well the crowded momentum of fatigue. With everything online—how do you stand out?”
The question Gregoire poses here is a tricky one; with everything changing to fully digital and remote, how exactly do you stand out?
“[Consider] all the dynamics of face-to-face [meetings], online [meetings], SEO, content consumption through the web, optimizing your ability to be found by the right buyers, where on the roadmap are you seen?
We have seen fast-tracked investment and reallocation of the budgets to position ourselves in that way to offer that relevant content to the customer. The buyer persona didn’t change as much, but the influence and role in how they find information has changed. It changed how Rockwell offered content and information. We aren’t going to go back to where we were before, it’s an evolution. It is an adjustment in finding the right balance.”
Gregoire went on to pose 3 questions regarding your sales and marketing strategies moving forward.
- Are we addressing the customer’s challenge?
- Are we adding value?
- Is it the right channel or means to add value?
Shifts in the Digital Landscape
The conversation shifted to the shifting digital landscape. Peter began the conversation with this nugget of knowledge:
“Platforms [can] provide customer insights to the salesperson before the meeting. What knowledge [do] they already have and what information will they need? Customer insights and these platforms help salespeople be more competent through digital selling and ideally providing the right information at the right time—these investments and technologies have helped a lot in the selling processes especially in the last 6 months.
So, what will change in 6 months down the road?”
The conversation continued down the topic of the shifting digital landscape and the future of B2B marketing and sales. The panelists are all in agreement that COVID-19 will have lasting implications in how business do marketing and sales, especially now that most businesses have been fully remote for close to a year, if not longer.
Gregoire mentioned that businesses now have data to prove that efficiency and productivity have not seen a decline with most employees moving to fully remote positions to counteract the effects of the pandemic and limit its spread, and he doesn’t think there will be a need for face-to-face business when the next generation takes over.
The digital landscape, not just business functions, but also how and where people work, has moved almost entirely digital.
With the pandemic still in full swing, you can only expect buyer behavior and the digital landscape to continue changing as the pandemic continues. Read below a quick excerpt of Gerhard Otterbach’s recap of the discussion.
“In summary, what will remain is that the new normal will at least bring some things back that have happened in the past, but things will never be the same as they were before the pandemic. We will keep a lot of the influence that has accelerated the B2B buying and digitalization during the pandemic.
There is a combined process of digitalization of sales and in the product.”
*Some comments were edited for brevity.