I had a conversation in the middle of the lockdown, with a president of a large B2B marketing firm, during which we discussed the future of B2B marketing and sales. The debate centered around if we will ever go back to large events again. My thought was that the longer the pandemic went on, the larger the demand for in-person events would grow.
I based my reasoning on a few of my general thoughts on human behaviors:
- The more you tell me I can’t do something, the more I want to do it.
- While travel is never easy, it is actually productive.
- People like to have well-designed formal opportunities to engage with each other, especially those of us who tend to be a bit awkward or introverted.
We also spoke about how buyer behaviors have been affected. Overall the data has pointed us to the idea of purchase by committee, which has created the need for a way to take everyone on the journey together. This requires easy access to different content that will help answer the questions of the committee.
The behavior of the people in these situations, I would argue, requires the following:
- Easy sharing of relevant content to help answer the questions
- Online conversations, or social media interactions with the leader of the buying committee to help define the needs and outline the potential questions from others (there is always the person on the call who will challenge the solution).
- Then a virtual meeting with the committee that is designed to answer the questions (even though content is accessible online, people don’t always want to read, they want to listen and challenge the premise with someone online).
As B2B marketers and sellers, we need to learn how to juggle the many different approaches to the buying process our customers and prospects take. Carl Jung described it best:
“…people either derive energy from relating to others or from internal thoughts. They also tend to gather information in different ways, either by focusing on data, or by intuitively seeing the big picture. They express themselves in different ways, either with a focus on rational thinking, or on feelings and values. And they also have tendencies to make decisions rapidly with planning and organization, or to be more spontaneous and pressure-prompted. Using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and other assessments, these dichotomies can be measured to indicate type preferences –Working Resources
Here are some things to always think about:
- Education comes first. The buyers who tend to be rational thinkers by focusing on data will seek out content to answer their needs, while the big picture people will look at the total sum of the content and make a decision based on intuition and values.
- Get involved. Go to the industry events and get involved with the audience, meet as many people as you can, and have meaningful conversations. The face-to-face opportunities will support the need of those buyers who need to have a trusted, personal connection with the seller.
- Flexible awareness. The final step to many of the purchases will be that moment when you will have a call with all the different buyers on the committee. As marketers and sellers we need to be flexible, and be able to identify the needs of each person in the meeting.
The truth is, the effects of Covid, like a pendulum swinging, will continue to impact our B2B marketing and sales for quite some time. But I believe we will settle into a more integrated style of marketing and selling with a mix of in-person events and online meetings, and of course, a lot of content to support every step of the way.