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B2B Buyer Trends for 2021

“A decade in a year.” That’s how Benedict Evans, famed tech industry analyst, summarizes the shifts that 2020 brought to society’s relationship with technology. Forced experimentation and habit-breaking accelerated trends that were already in motion, and nearly a year into the pandemic, we’re starting to see what’s gonna stick around. 

While B2B buying behaviors may not have jumped a full ten years ahead like consumer retail and other industries have, the “consumerization” of B2B has certainly ramped up. As people worked from home and the personal blended into the professional, it became more obvious how different the often frictionless and personalized B2C purchase experiences were in comparison with B2B buying. Though other market trends have made B2B sales more complex, buyers still have increasingly higher expectations on the experience. 

So we’ve collected some very fresh B2B buyer statistics for you to keep close as you move forward with your demand gen, sales, and account management strategies this year. If you’re short on time, take just 30 seconds to zip through these highlights: 

B2B Buyer Statistics

Millenials are the majority

First off, to put the trends in context, keep in mind that millenials make up a big portion of B2B buyers in 2021: 

Personalization

This is highly effective and increasingly expected. When lacking, and it still often is within the B2B space, it’s a turn off.

Self-service  

This is now the default preference. Buyers want vendors to be available on their terms and to be able to direct their own journey.

Trust and support

It's more important than ever, despite buyers’ dislike for being sold to, for them to trust their vendors and feel supported in the process. Self-service doesn’t mean less communication; quite the contrary, support is welcome and often expected on-demand.

Remote digital engagement

Not only are newer modes working to close the sale, buyers increasingly prefer live chat and video over the phone and in-person meetings. 

Source: McKinsey October 2020 report "How how COVID-19 has changed B2B sales forever"


Bigger, slower sales processes

This was a trend before 2020 that the pandemic continued to drive. B2B buyers are bringing more people to the table and taking a longer time to decide. 

Conclusion 

While B2B buyers have strong demands in terms of personalization and easy access to information and service, they’ve embraced the rise of digital engagement channels like video and live chat to move through their buying cycle. Their consumer purchasing experiences are shaping their expectations in every digital interaction they have with vendors. More people are involved in the buying process and they want support on demand. Sales cycles are taking longer, and vendors are struggling to mitigate this development. To meet these trends and keep a healthy, growing pipeline, B2B companies should recognize that tools enabling conversational selling and account-based strategies should be a critical part of their tech stack. 

Buyers don’t move through tidy funnels anymore. They engage on their terms, so meet them where they’re at. Companies that use conversational marketing and sales platforms can engage with website visitors in real time through live chat, accelerate sales cycles, and gain +62% increase in pipeline creation for sales.

If you want to learn how you can get ahead of trends in B2B buying, have a look at our book The Definitive Guide to Conversational Marketing for Salesforce, or check out this video below. 


Posted on
February 12, 2021
by
Corinne Pearce

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