The “Amazonification” of B2B Buying Behavior: Are You Prepared?

If you have a smartphone, you have expectations of how you like to buy things. And by “things,” I mean “everything.” You want what you want, when you want it, how you want it.

The now fully mature age of digital commerce allows us to not only buy how and when we want, it also allows us to conduct gratuitous amounts of research before we buy. The plethora of customer review sections and sites, blogs, product-focused web sites and even social media, combined with ever-increasing suppliers in the marketplace, are giving consumers the opportunity to purchase almost anything from an informed position. This is no longer about buying a product that meets a need; we are constantly educating ourselves with what product meets a very specific need on our usually very specific terms.

For example, I recently went to trade in my old car to buy a new one. My old car was $2k underwater and nearing the 100k in miles. I did exhaustive research on every vehicle in my price range and segment, watched every YouTube video review possible along with its corresponding online report. I contacted several dealers, got on a mailing list, and inadvertently received a mailer with a very competitive offer for my car ($1k above market value and 0% financing on the new car).

I found the dealership with the car I liked, with a really great rep that was willing to talk via text, and pull the information (invoice, competitive finance rates, etc.) and cars I wanted to compare upon my arrival. I went in on the last day of their second fiscal quarter with only a few hours left in the day. The dealer offered me full value for my car, added a cashback incentive, and gave me a very competitive finance rate; all in just over two hours.

In my case, I strategically timed my appearance on the lot to reduce “buyer wear-down” time but any consumer can at least arm themselves with readily available information and choose from a wide selection of businesses all selling the same product. In this selling situation, what cards does the dealer have left? Sacrifice margin, attempt to persuade me on a negotiable, or let me walk out the door and lose the business completely?

Nowadays, we only want to engage with sales people when we absolutely have to and when we are prepped with the right information. We only consult their opinions when we have done extensive research, and feel that their contribution to the negotiation is added value, and not accompanied by slanted opinions to serve their number.

The Savvy Consumer Has Arrived in B2B

This buying behavior is now made its way into the B2B sales environment. With the rise of seemingly innumerable competitors, margins are slimming, and the “first bid wins” mentality is becoming pervasive in many industries. By the time the sales rep first engages with the buyer, they have likely formed some strong opinions on your product or service – often influenced by a wide group of stakeholders – and are not eager to engage in traditional sales negotiation tactics.

In this new ecommerce sales paradigm, you need to determine if your organization has the necessary tools to engage buyers how and when they want to buy.

Is your team prepared to negotiate with intelligent procurement teams whose aim is to knock down your margins?

Do you have insight into willingness-to-pay at the customer and transaction level?

Do you have dynamic alignment with sales so that you have insight into the profitability of every deal and know which deals to let go?

Knowing that customers are buying across multiple channels, are you equipped with the necessary tools to speak with one voice across all channels so that your company’s products/services are more laser-focused, and not spread out in value like a shotgun blast?

If you have a smartphone, you have a preference in how you buy. How much money do you think your organization might be losing from buyers if you’re not keeping up with how they buy?

About the Author

JJ Worthen

JJ Worthen is part of the strategic accounts sales team at PROS. He is responsible for evaluating and understanding customers' specific needs across a broad gamut of industries, ranging from Chemicals and O&G, to Telco and Financial Services.

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