Guiding the new B2B buyer from attraction to advocacy

Today’s B2B buyer is complex. Though today’s business buyers have similar needs and expectations as traditional consumers, the B2B buyer journey is more nuanced.

Adobe and Microsoft recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to evaluate the B2B buyer journey. Forrester surveyed 1,023 global business executives with responsibility for enabling, creating, or participating in customer experience (CX) and engagement to explore this topic.

The following is a summary of some of the key findings published in the Forrester report “Guiding the new B2B Buyer from Attraction to Advocacy,” with some useful advice on meeting evolving B2B customer expectations.

6 Key Recommendations

  1. Foster a culture that worships customer data, insights, and knowledge
  2. Plan for processes that create connected customer experience (CX)
  3. Calibrate around the customer to deliver the optimal buying experience
  4. Let buyers drive your systems
  5. Step up to the change management challenge
  6. Leverage technology systems that deepen buyer insights, align sales and marketing, and improve customer experience.

B2B practitioners shift their focus to customer centricity, but they fall short in execution and measurement

In the research, 76 percent of B2B practitioners and 83 percent of B2C practitioners find customer expectations for more personalized and digital experiences to be greater than ever before. Although customers have high expectations for personalization, many B2B respondents (57 percent) said their organization still operates with linear and static journey maps.

B2B practitioners must steward customers through a complex and long buyer journey

B2B marketers and sellers are increasingly challenged with personalizing experiences that fit the varying individual needs within buying teams. Throughout different stages of the customer journey, B2B companies navigate a more complex web of touchpoints with their customers than B2C companies. Overall, these various stages demand efficient processes as well as special attention for retaining customers.

Companies fall short in CX measurement.

Customer loyalty tops the list of customer engagement marketing goals over the next year. However, customer loyalty is not always a priority when it comes to measurement. When asked about metrics currently used in their organizations, respondents were least likely to mention customer experience metrics relative to others (51 percent). In other words, increasing customer loyalty is the number one customer engagement marketing goal over the next 12 months, but it is less likely to be captured by marketers.

Companies are struggling with challenges around data, systems, and processes

Marketing organizations understand that customer-centricity is required to meet increasingly complex expectations. Most respondents said their company has data, systems, and process capabilities at the ready, but most marketers are challenged when it comes to leveraging these tools to personalize their engagement strategy.

Using data, systems, and processes poses a challenge

Customers often experience disjointed CX between what they receive from marketing and sales. To make it more difficult there exist data silos between departments that are difficult to align. To deliver better CX, companies need to increase visibility and integration of technology, systems, and processes within cross-functional organizations.

Addressing data, systems, and process challenges head on

Addressing challenges around creating personalized content and the ability to analyze data for insights are high and critical priorities for companies. B2B respondents believe personalization would greatly improve their organization’s engagement strategies at the account level and at the individual level. B2B responses believe that investments in customer journey mapping will deliver on improved customer loyalty.

Urgency to address the buyer journey is only amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic

The data suggests that sending frequent personalized and relevant communications while leveraging insights from analytics are key during the pandemic. Eighty-three percent of respondents believe “sensitivity to a customer’s journey is more critical than ever.” Moving forward, retaining and growing customers will serve as a foundation to pandemic recovery. For marketers, shifting priorities from customer retention to customer advocacy will become a critical next step.

Adobe and Microsoft: The road to the future of B2B

Adobe and Microsoft have come together and integrated our most trusted applications, technologies, and platforms —so that your teams can come together too. Now, trusted solutions build on each other and erase the barriers that slowed the flow of information between marketing, sales, customer service, and IT.

Learn more about our partnership with Microsoft here.