4 Reasons B2B Digital Transformation is Dominating

November 8, 2017

Man with Laptop in Lap

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Bernie Borges, CMO of Vengreso. 

In case you’ve taken a five-year nap, you know that the B2B buyer is digitally savvy. Sure, this is more or less true across different industries. Ignoring the reality of the digitally engaged buyer, is risky. Let’s examine the four pillars that make up this reality.

The Modern B2B Buyer is on Social Media

During the past five years, many B2B organizations have been slow to adopt social selling practices. The proof is abundantly available that the modern B2B buyer needs a modern B2B seller. In 2017 81% of the U.S. population is active on social media. Let’s not forget that we sell to people. The B2B buyer whose behavior is heavily skewed to engaging in digital channels in general, wants to engage with sellers digitally. Any B2B organization who thinks their buyer has a split personality – one at work and one outside of work – is taking a big risk. People are people.

The Rise of Content Marketing

The sophisticated marketer has figured out that publishing content that maps to the buyer’s journey is effective because the buyer needs it and wants it.

Let’s examine this without the “sophisticated” qualifier. When you think about this, it’s not really that sophisticated. It’s simple logic. Here it is.

Buyers do not:

  • Take phone calls.
  • Respond to email.
  • Want to talk with sales in the first half of their journey.

Buyers do:

  • Want to read educational, informational and entertaining content.
  • Use social media to conduct research.
  • Use social media to ask questions.
  • Register for webinars that help facilitate the buyer’s journey.
  • Have high regard for the opinions of peers and influencers.
  • Consume content in different formats, e.g., long form, infographic, video, podcast, webinars, etc.

You see the simple logic? The buyer is in control of their buying journey. With 6.8 people involved in the average B2B buying decision, the way to reach and engage this team is through relevant and engaging content that is helpful to their journey.

Mindset Shift

In my book, Marketing 2.0, published in 2009 (the stone ages of social media), I spoke of the need for businesses to undergo a mindset shift to use social media to drive business results. Eight years later, we see considerable evidence that the shift has happened. Research points out that 75% of the B2B buyer’s journey is influenced by information discovered in social media, and 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed digitally.

It’s natural to witness the maturation of the B2B buyer’s mindset shift for two reasons. More managers responsible for making decisions have become engaged in social media and therefore experience first-hand what it takes to engage in digital communications. Additionally, more use-cases have emerged enabling slower-to-adopt businesses to take notice and take action, especially when direct competitors have demonstrated prowess as “social sellers.”

The Evolution of Business

No one remembers the mindset shift that took place to put a telephone on every employee’s desk. Just imagine the conversations in the executive suite when telephone technology was in its infancy. It probably sounded something like this: “We can’t give a telephone to each employee! We won’t be in control of their conversations with prospects and customers. Additionally, they might abuse the telephone and call friends. It’s just too risky. We’re not going to do it.”

It sounds comical, doesn’t it?

Some of us remember when email was first introduced as a digital communication tool. Similar conversations took place in the executive suite. Yet, email has become the most pervasive digital communication channel in the modern era.

The new modern era – the connected era – is comprised of digital communication tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and in Asian regions WeChat and WhatsApp.

The social channels most used by B2B organizations remain LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Other popular digital tools and channels include text messaging, private messaging on social media apps, social video and yes, even email.

The modern B2B organization must engage the modern buyer in the manner in which the buyer wants to engage. In Lithium’s 2017 State of Social Engagement we learn that most brands are stuck in broadcast mode through their company channels. It’s time to get human or risk being irrelevant to your buyer!

Our customers and prospective customers are engaging in digital channels. Marketing and sales alignment is a culture shift that has to happen in the B2B selling organization. When marketing says, “your number is my number,” the alignment mindset is off to a great start.

Employees who willingly engage in digital channels because the brand has made it easy for them are more likely to be influential to a buyer, because the buyer wants to engage with subject matter experts.

Digital transformation is way more than a buzzword. My only pushback on the phrase is that it’s missing a word. I prefer to think of it as digital sales transformation. Isn’t that what we’re experiencing?

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