Many of us spend a lot of time on social media and regularly use it to check reviews on products and services we’re thinking about using. However we tend to ignore the fact that other buyers are doing exactly the same for the products and services provided by the companies we work for.
In fact, 75% of all B2B buyers already use social media to research vendors … and that number is going up quickly. In many cases buying decisions are being made with ‘zero’ contact with the actual vendor, and that means we can be losing business without ever knowing we were in the frame!
“The simple fact is that buyers often prefer to hear what other people think about us, rather than what we think of ourselves!”
For all businesses but especially larger ones this should be a real wake-up call, because effecting the kind of transformation needed to adapt to the way in which buying behaviour is changing is not trivial, it often involves re-engineering significant elements of the business and dealing with entrenched processes and systems, and of course change-resistant teams who just don’t see the need, because it’s still working fine … for now!It used to be that the big companies ate the smaller ones, but now it’s the fastest that eat the slowest! It’s never been easier for #SME businesses to eat the big guys for lunch!
Old-fashioned approaches to marketing which involve ‘interrupting’ buyers, now work less and less well as those buyers prefer to do their investigations in private. As high-quality leads become harder to come by, many companies turn to their existing clients to make up shortfalls in new business revenue, but of course this isn’t addressing the underlying issue.
But fear not, digital transformation is just that, it’s a process of change over time and it can be done in a sensible and orderly manner, but happen it must, as ignoring it will be at our peril.
Tactical vs strategic
55% of startups have now adopted a digital business strategy. This typically starts with 'social moves' focusing on tactical activity such as tweeting a little more frequently and making sure Customer Service teams are responsive to any kind of online feedback. While these things may be helpful, they amount to ‘playing’ by a few individuals in the business and this reflects a lack of seriousness at the top of the business. Worse, this playing is not likely to satisfy consumers and won’t therefore satisfy senior leaders who may simply decide ‘it didn’t work!’
Digital Transformation is a process where the business needs to go where the customer is, in every regard. This means being ‘social’ in their social media feeds, it means being available however and whenever they need you or might be interested in what you do! It means being there before them, anticipating their destination, researching their preferences and tuning the business ‘ears’ into customer and prospect requirements, habits and preferences.
More than anything it’s a strategic play, where leaders need to re-orientate their business and give their teams the necessary priority and focus to deliver for the long term. It requires commitment!
Done right, your business faces customers and prospects on their ground, and is available how they want to consume it, providing them with high-value insights as they start their buying journey. The stats then speak for themselves, with start ups relying on a digital business strategy seeing a possible 34% increase in revenue, and enterprises a 23% increase.
“The first to provide value and insight on the buying journey, usually wins the deal”
Permission & priority
Business often relies upon tried and tested processes and patterns, and in fact many management handbooks will recommend just that as a method to succeed or become more efficient. The problem is that entrenched teams and practices find it hardest to change, as they struggle to break free from the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.
The most forward-thinking large businesses are now rapidly appointing Chief Digital Officers (CDO) to join the C-Suite, but many will see the writing on the wall too late. The fourth industrial revolutions of #AI and #BigData are now upon us and only those businesses that adapt and transform quickly will thrive.