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Turbulent times can change the way we approach many things – especially the decision-making process. Organizations with decades of internal processes designed to make critical decisions have been challenged to make radical changes during the global health crisis, as the norm seemed to change almost every month. And when those decisions involve purchases, things only get more complicated.
Given the ongoing economic and societal uncertainty, some companies are realistically asking how much money could currently be allocated for investments. Is every investment a wise use of funds? Small businesses can certainly confirm that fear, as an UpCity survey found that 57% have cut spending during the global health and economic crisis. Those who left their spending unchanged chose to reallocate their budget, choosing to allocate more funds to pay raises (34%), marketing (28%), or operations management (27%).
In the past, companies set approval thresholds to approve spending up to certain dollar amounts. The decision to make larger investments would, of course, be reserved for higher levels in the organization. Certainly leadership would gather feedback to provide more context on the purchase, but the final decision would be in the hands of the C-suite.
However, a shift has taken place. It is no longer possible to gather input in the same way as remote and hybrid work have become common. For larger expenses, a meeting would need to be scheduled, but this can add months to the process. These obstacles have caused some companies to abandon processes set in stone for years.
See Also: 6 Fatal B2B Sales Mistakes You Must Avoid
The changing face of B2B customer retention
Firms working with these companies have responded quickly and evolved to accommodate the new many-to-many relationship that has emerged. More and more people within the supplier communicate simultaneously with more and more people at the customer – often across multiple locations and media. In many cases, this only increases the load on the company’s internal processes. It takes more time and energy to sync up with a customer to ensure quality and consistency of messaging, especially as B2B buyers are now going in different directions.
As the multi-step decision-making process evolved, suppliers had to be prepared to support asynchronous communications. This contact method has created a new B2B customer experience trend where buyers request information, but not consistently. It’s up to suppliers to meet them where they are with up to date information. All of this leads to significant changes in the internal processes of the suppliers.
Internal systems also had to be modified to accommodate this new type of remote decision-making. Video calls, video chat systems, etc. help bring internal teams to the same page for consistent communication with buyers. Process-based decision-making aids are also quickly adopted. Salesforce’s acquisition of Slack and Adobe’s acquisition of Workfront illustrate how critical communication and decision-making among distributed people has become in maintaining B2B customer engagement throughout the B2B buying journey.
See also: 5 tips to develop your B2B sales
Introduction of new B2B customer retention strategies
B2B customer retention strategies have changed. This fact cannot be denied. However, you still need to solve B2B pain points to maintain customer relationships and stay in the good graces of your customer base. There are aspects of the operation that might require a tweak or two to keep up with what lies ahead. Here’s what you can do to be prepared:
1. Get everyone on the same page
If you’re not on the same page with your team, you can’t deliver relevant strategies to clients. Getting everyone on the same page sounds easy enough, but Salesforce found that 86% of executives believe ineffective collaboration and communication are the top two causes of business failure.
Don’t just focus on the tools and systems that make collaboration and communication easier. They should be there by now. Look at the processes involved. Are there barriers to more effective communication like B2B pain points? If so, now is the time to find ways to streamline them internally.
2. Evaluate the communication process
The sequencing of communication with your customers should not be a matter of course for you. Just ask the 82% of decision makers who believe sales reps are unprepared for meetings, according to SiriusDecisions. A Forrester survey confirms this assessment: 78% of executives say that sales reps lack important information. Another 77% believe these sales reps don’t understand their company’s problems or the purpose of the product.
To mitigate these shortcomings, make sure your team members understand where customers are on their B2B buying journey. When a customer is still in the design phase and has yet to establish requirements, urging the company to make a decision only hurts the relationship. Capture accurate data and clarify your B2B buyer insights to ensure you always meet customers where they are.
See also: Sharing B2B Customer Success Stories: How to Present an Effective Case Study
3. Accept the new norm
By now you probably know that many change efforts fail due to internal resistance and a lack of support from management. Therefore, you need to strengthen your in-house change management capability to ensure you can constantly adapt to customer requirements and an ever-evolving market.
The B2B buying journey has changed forever and will likely change again in the near future. Social and economic turmoil have accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and led to continuous improvements in the way businesses connect. Getting certain aspects of the B2B buying journey right can ensure your team is better positioned to face whatever the future brings.