These challenges are creating a mandate for CEO's to innovate towards new means of attracting new buyers, retaining existing customers, and maximizing value through customer loyalty. A CEO today must think in a much broader context than the myriad of different approaches that have arisen over the past few years to respond as well as adapt to the transformative events taking place in B2B markets. This broader context is essential to viewing in totality the buyer experience one has with their organization. Today's CEO's must make Buyer Experience Innovation a top priority to succeed in the rapidly changing B2B marketplace.
Let's define Buyer Experience Innovation:
"Creating in totality an ideal buying experience and innovative interactions that engages as well as enables buyers to enter into a transactional and loyal relationship with the organization"
Over the past decade, customer experience has become part of the landscape of business thinking. In particular, customer experience has found its way more prominently in the B2C market space as the emphasis on creating brick and mortar as well as online experiences has become an essential means of winning over customers. New technologies associated with mobile, digital, and social media is causing resurgence in customer experience thinking today. In the B2B context, it is important to delineate this context whereas customer experience can be viewed as essential to back office operations while buyer experience is essential to the front office - primarily sales and marketing.
Why must B2B CEO's make Buyer Experience Innovation a top priority? There are several reasons, of many, that can be noted:
Growth Strategies: The lifeblood of B2B organizations is creating sustainable top line revenue as well as market share growth year after year. The path to sustaining growth strategies is through creating innovative and rewarding buyer experiences that help buyers to meet their goals.
Alignment: The issue of sales and marketing alignment has been written about extensively over the past few years. Many organizations continue to struggle with this issue. When this alignment is problematic, it directly affects the buyer's experience and not for the better.
Cohesion: In conversations with several B2B CEO's, a recent issue is that while there have been new approaches related to areas such as demand generation, content marketing, and social media, there is a lack of cohesion in these efforts that contributes to the overall buyer experience.
Static View of Buying Cycle: For many years, we have conditioned ourselves to look at the buying cycle one dimensionally and through the prism of the seller only. Many sales and marketing approaches have been designed around these static views, whether they be defined as 4, 5, or 6 stages makes little difference, and in today's digital age creates a severe disconnect with buyers.
Lack of Insight: While B2C has made strides in customer insights, B2B has lagged behind in attaining critical buyer insight that contributes towards making informed decision. Some of the B2B CEO's I've talked to basically say this "not knowing" truly keeps them up at night and that decision-making can be an art form of crap shooting.
Sales Cycle Modeling: The sales cycle and the numerous selling models that exist have been reinvented over and over throughout the years. Evident to many B2B CEO's today is that buyers today no longer make themselves accessible to this means of one-way communication and have become resourceful in resisting such efforts.
Design Thinking: Forward thinking CEO's today are leading their organizations through sound design thinking in products, services, and experiences. Buyer Experience Design and the sub-component of Buyer Journey Design will become critical pieces of the puzzle in developing buyer experiences that enables and engages buyers.
Brand Experience: While the concept of the holistic brand experience has gained prominence in B2C circles, the sales-driven cultures that exists in B2B organizations have not considered brand experience in the same holistic manner. Today's leading B2B CEO's are beginning to make brand experience a considerable component of strategy.
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