I don’t consider myself “old,” yet I remember business-to-business sales before the Internet. You contacted a salesperson, who was the “Gatekeeper of All Information.” Then you went through a series of meetings, learning a little more with each one. After all the meetings with all the potential vendors, you made a decision. It was time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating.
The Internet changed all that. Last week, Joe Shelman, the GM at Exhibits Northwest Seattle, passed along, “The New Breed of B2B Buyer” written by Joel York. In the article, York explained how B2B has evolved, and, more importantly, how the rules of buyer engagement have changed.
“As one of the most serious of Internet users, the B2B buyer has been transformed through adaptation to the new online environment. A new breed of B2B buyer has arisen, a species that is more connected, more impatient, more elusive, more impulsive, and more informed than its pre-millennium ancestors.”
How It Used to Be
“The Internet has changed the B2B buying process so radically that it’s difficult to recollect exactly how the pre-Internet B2B buyer used to go about the business of making a purchase: paper, phone, and people mostly. The process went something like this: ask the analysts about the next big thing, collect requirements into an RFP, get a list of vendors from a roundup in an industry magazine, go to a trade show and collect collateral, solicit and evaluate the RFP responses by mail or fax, call in a short list of vendors to do a dog and pony show, follow up with a technical drill down meeting, maybe do a bake-off or a pilot, select a vendor, call a reference account, negotiate final pricing and contract terms, and wrap it all up by planning out phase 2 of the project.”
If you are still operating in that world, you are a dinosaur — alive, but extinction is on the horizon. I would encourage you to read “The New Breed of B2B Buyer“, not once, not twice, but three times. If I was still teaching, you’d be tested on it next Monday.
If you are the owner or General Manager of your business, you may want to distribute this to your team . . . Then devote a meeting to reviewing it page by page. Yes, it’s that important.
One final quote:
“Although the days of the traveling B2B sales rep are over for all but the most expensive purchases, it is essential not to fall into the trap of hiding behind email. When it comes to building rapport and trust, chat is better than email, phone is better than chat, video is better than phone, and face-to-face is better than video. When your business depends on trust, you must provide the technologies and opportunities for your B2B sales reps to engage with your new B2B buyers at a personal level.”
I’d enjoy hearing from you after you’ve read the article. Let me know if you agree or disagree. Thanks.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.