COVID-19 Changed B2B Buyer Habits for Good: Are You Ready?

Jun 21, 2021

If the trending “consumerization” of B2B buying wasn’t broadly recognized pre-COVID 19, it certainly can’t be missed now:

People want to buy at work the way they do at home.

B2B buyers were placing more and more orders digitally instead of face-to-face long before 2020, and the pandemic shifted the trend into hyper-drive. Manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors who aren’t already offering the seamless, online experiences their buyers enjoy in the B2C world need to catch up. Here are 5 things they should keep top of mind as they move forward.

1. Make Ordering Processes Quick and Seamless

People are now used to buying just about everything online, and they have new expectations for their B2B ordering processes. McKinsey & Company research shows buyers want “outstanding digital experiences that deliver speed, transparency and expertise.” Just having an ecommerce presence isn’t enough.

  • Buyers want comprehensive information at their fingertips and a smooth payment process. It needs to be easy for buyers to find products and prices—and make a purchase.
  • Buyers want on-demand, remote access to more communication, not less, before, during and after purchase, which may be why 33% of buyers rate the option of live chat as a top-three requirement for a best-in-class supplier.
  • Buyers are 2X more likely to make a supplier their primary vendor if they provide a quick and seamless order processes .

2. Offer Real-Time, Personalized Pricing

Static catalogs and websites with one-size-fits all pricing frustrate buyers. They overwhelmingly choose suppliers whose streamlined buying process includes personalized offers. A Hanover survey of 1,000 B2B procurement and purchasing leaders shows:

  • 93% of buyers want personalized pricing and incentives, and 44% need them.
  • 61% would pay more for instant pricing information from their suppliers.
  • 64% would leave a supplier who cannot offer real-time, personalized pricing. This is significant because a majority of buyers strongly prefer to maintain relationships with existing suppliers.

3. Enable Buyers to Self-Serve

Buyers want to interact with suppliers on their terms, and digital self-service is now their default preference. They’ve learned first-hand how easy and efficient self-serve interactions are for getting information, placing orders and arranging service.

  • 80% of B2B decision makers prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service, even for major purchases.
  • 70% of B2B decision makers are willing to make new, fully self-serve or remote purchases exceeding $50K, and 27% would spend more than $500K.
  • Fewer than 20% of B2B buyers want to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field- sales models have traditionally dominated, such as pharma and medical products.

4. Provide Remote Access to Expertise

Buyers may want to self-serve, but that does not mean they don’t want communication and support from suppliers. After all, business purchases involve risk, and business customers often won’t buy without an emotional connection to help alleviate it. Business buyers need to trust their suppliers. The human touch in B2B is as important as ever before.

What’s changed? Buyers want remote interactions that allow them to connect with suppliers on their terms. They expect communication and support on demand.

Make sure your buyers have ways to interact with you one-on-one through live chat or other real-time messaging functionality. When buyers’ digital interactions with you are accessible, responsive and easy-to-use, you’ll build loyalty and become a more competitive supplier.

5. Leverage Robust, Low-Cost Digital Solutions

The way businesses sell to and buy from one another has fundamentally changed. Digital offerings are no longer optional; they’re an essential means of doing business.

Companies need to adapt quickly to each of these recommended measures, and SABX can help. We’ve simplified B2B sales with the market’s first “Seller and Buyer Xchange,” a lightweight platform that allows any size company to easily and affordably bring their existing manual B2B sales processes online and unlock opportunities for growth.

Our team of remote-selling experts can have you up and running with streamlined digital processes in as little as two weeks, with no up-front capital expenditure or tech investment needed to get started. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

Sources: Hanover Research, “What B2B Buyers Want In 2019: Speed, Personalization And Intelligence;” McKinsey & Company, “How B2B sales have changed during COVID-19;” Research completed by CEB Marketing in partnership with Google and Motista; McKinsey & Company, “These eight charts show how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever