If your small business sells B2B, I’ve got good news for you: Purchase price of products and services matters less and less to business buyers, while social media matters more and more. Those are among the key conclusions of a recent study of nearly 500 B2B buyers conducted by TriComB2B and the University of Dayton. The 2013 B2B Buyer Research report has lots of useful info for B2B marketers. Here are some highlights:
- (B2B) decision makers are more likely today than they were two years ago to use social media sites to do research and gather information before making a purchasing decision. In particular, LinkedIn is the most important social media outlet, with 25 percent of decision-makers (up from 12 percent in 2011) relying on it as a resource in the purchasing process.
- Price is becoming less important—but it still matters. Some 59 percent of survey respondents (down from 64 percent in 2011) said the most important factor in their purchasing decision was immediate purchase price.
- Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is becoming less important, too. Fifty-one percent of the survey respondents (down from 56 percent in 2011) said TCO is calculated into their purchasing decisions the majority of the time.
- Online video offers valuable information for decision-makers. More than half (57 percent) of respondents say they have clicked on an online video to get information as part of the decision-making process.
- It’s not all about online. Although online marketing is important, in-person interaction still matters in the B2B world. Nearly all (84 percent) respondents say they attend at least one industry event each year.
- When you can’t get together in person, online is the next best thing. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of respondents say they participate in three or more webinars per year.
How can you take advantage of these shifts in the decision-making process to boost your sales?
- Get social. If you’re not already active on social media, what are you waiting for? If you are, step it up. Become more involved in LinkedIn. One great way to attract decision-makers’ attention is by joining industry groups on LinkedIn and responding to questions that members have. This can position you and your business as industry leaders and problem-solvers. Also make sure that your sales team have their own LinkedIn accounts and are taking full advantage of what the site has to offer.
- Get filming. Online video offers an appealing way to show, not just tell, prospective buyers about your products and services. Keep in mind that more people these days are watching videos on mobile devices, so short and sweet is the way to go. Consider filming one longer-form video (10-15 minutes) and breaking it down into shorter segments that can be easily digested.
- Host webinars. To get the most from webinars, make sure you require users to register for them. By capturing their contact information, you’ll be able to reach out later and follow up to answer any questions they may have, learn more about their needs and (hopefully) start a lasting business relationship.
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