An important attribute that B2B CEO's will need to possess to lead organizations in Buyer Experience Innovation is ecosystem thinking. Ecosystem thinking can be characterized as a combination of integrated thinking and big picture analysis. It is an attempt to understand the relationships and interdependencies amongst important elements. The complexities presented by B2B markets and environments make this type of thinking all the more necessary. It also provides a platform for communicating to the organization just how to think in terms of providing loyalty creating B2B buyer experiences.
There are four broad elements that lend itself to an integrated view of the Buyer Experience Ecosystem:
In the broader context, B2B offers the most complex network of relationships. Not only must the entirety of the Buyer Experience Ecosystem be considered but gaining insight into the Buyer Ecosystem of your own buyer persona base becomes critical. The challenge for most B2B CEO's is that they will discover a significant shortcoming in the organization's "inside-out" understanding of the many relationships that can exists in their buyer persona's ecosystem. Acquiring the "outside-in" view of the web of B2B complex relationships becomes an essential ingredient to Buyer Experience Strategy. This quote from David Meerman Scott is relevant because with all the shiny new objects that have been introduced the past few years, we can forget it is still about relationships:
"It's fascinating how the fundamentals of business-to-business marketing are the same today as they were 50 years ago. It's still about relationships although today we have new tools and techniques at our disposal."
Understanding buyer engagement pitfalls as well as opportunities is like playing a game of chess. B2B CEO"s will need to anticipate continuously the types of engagements that buyers will respond to most favorably. Here's the bad news for B2B CEO's. Most buyers will have a hard time articulating exactly and precisely how they wish to be engaged. Thus, the ability to anticipate and read the unarticulated through qualitative buyer insight becomes a core requirement. In the modern B2B world, discovering the right mix of outbound and inbound engagement can be an ongoing design challenge to get the right recipe of engagement channels that buyers will select. The advent and rise of engagement channels related to digital marketing and social media has made this undoubtedly a perplexing
issue for many B2B leaders. The roles of sales and marketing with respect to engagement are best defined when shaped by how they contribute to the overall buyer experience. B2B leaders will be faced with the challenge of no longer holding a provincial view of the conventional roles of sales and marketing. A focus on a Buyer Experience Strategy recasts the sales and marketing alignment issue from being that of how marketing will enable sales or how sales will align with marketing messaging to that of how each contributes to enabling the overall buyer experience.
Over the past several decades, the concept of brand in B2B has essentially been one of identity, positioning, and messaging. Today, B2B buyers look to branding as an embodiment of an overall experience. A new way of thinking for many B2B outfits. B2B leaders will need to ponder how the branding experience is integrated and interwoven into every aspect of the buyer's engagement and experience with their organization. Extending the brand experience values to every employee is a considerable undertaken. While this is of the utmost importance, what is often forgotten is addressing organizational systems and structure that can either impede or enable brand and buyer experiences. It does no good to arrive at brand and buyer experience values yet leave organizational systems and structure in place as potential obstacles. Marketing messaging and branding identity alone will not create a buyer experience that engages buyers. In fact, irreparable damage can occur when buyer's respond well to branding identity and messaging but then encounter systemic and structural obstacles resulting in the mindset that the organization fails to deliver on its' promises. This in turn, severely undermines customer acquisition and growth strategies.
B2B leaders today will need to be mindful of how to assess and integrate sales enablement and marketing automation technology as well as the multi-varietal CRM applications that exists into enabling buyer experiences. A significant risk in this area is that there can be an unconscious gravitational pull towards viewing sales and marketing automation as a panacea to challenges in meeting growth strategies. Carefully assessing buyer insight and mapping a view of the buyer journey are necessary before determining which technologies are the appropriate enablers for implementing a Buyer Experience Strategy. Taking a step back and evaluating via an insight-driven approach can lead to choosing the right mix of technologies that contributes to overall growth strategies.
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