Intergage explain the importance of buyer enablement for manufacturers to empower potential buyers with the content, support, and personalised solutions they need to make informed buying decisions.
Did you know less than half (47%) of forecasted business ends up being closed? It’s a frightening statistic, and it’s not helped by others: 64% of respondents to a survey by Gartner couldn’t tell the difference between one B2B brand’s digital experience and another. As branding goes, ‘entirely anonymous’ is almost worse than being associated with negative sentiment. Buyer enablement could prove to be a key weapon in a manufacturer’s arsenal.
Few B2B sales are plain sailing. Most B2B buying committees are comprised of six to eight people, each with their own motivations and opinions; getting sign-off for new purchases requires buy-in from finance and operational departments; there is almost too much information out there for buyers to wade through. Such challenges mean that closing business is getting more and more tricky.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Feeling lost in your own pipeline is preventable with adaptation – the same process that has saved manufacturing businesses from multiple hurdles over time.
In recent years, manufacturing has been swift to react to new challenges – from supply chain management to digitalisation. The data tells a story of success; the total value of UK manufacturers’ product sales rose by a staggering £28.4bn (7%) between 2021 and 2022. British manufacturing is indeed thriving. But here’s the catch: in the current landscape, 77% of B2B buyers state that their last purchase was very difficult or complex.
Who doesn’t want their buyers to find buying easier?
To address this challenge, it’s essential for manufacturers to understand the concept of ‘buyer enablement’. At its core, buyer enablement is a strategy that empowers potential buyers with the content, support and personalised solutions they need to make informed buying decisions. It’s not just a buzzword; it’s a powerful approach that can provide manufacturers with more opportunities to win better business.
Practising buyer enablement is more complex. It needs a profound shift in perspective. It’s recognising that in this digital age, buyers are more independent and informed than ever. It’s about focusing on the buyer’s journey, their needs and the challenges they’ll face, rather than just pushing products. To win buyers over, you need to serve as partners and educators. You can’t just sell, sell, sell.
After all, the landscape is competitive, and buyers have more choices at their fingertips thanks to the internet. Issues like supply chains and global pandemics, though being managed, are building more pressure upon companies’ financials. Adopting buyer enablement strategies mean that manufacturers can improve the buying experience and secure a competitive edge. In a way, it’s about creating a smoother and more transparent buying process, and in doing so, attracting and retaining more customers due to their trust in you.
Buyer enablement has, like anything, several components to implement. How these are implemented will vary from company to company, and buyer to buyer, but they’re the foundations.
First, we have information and education. Manufacturers should provide buyers with the information they need, not only about the product, but also about industry trends or best practices. There are many ways to host this content, with company blogs being one of the most popular. This education helps build trust and positions you as an industry expert.
And then, you need to personalise your content. Remember that every buyer is unique, has their own specific needs and challenges and that they’re fundamentally human. Thankfully, you can leverage data and technology to tailor your solutions to each buyer’s situation, making sure they feel valued and understood at every point in their journey.
Underpinning both is support. The buying journey is far longer and more complex than the four-step journey we’ve all come to hold up as the gold standard. Providing guidance and answering key questions at every stage is key. You want to hold the buyer’s proverbial hand without necessarily dragging them along.
These have a knock-on effect, as enhancing the buyer’s experience is likely to increase the odds of them choosing to purchase from you, as well as choosing your products or services over competitors’.
The advantages of implementing buyer enablement strategies are substantial. For one, offering support and education means manufacturers can foster a sense of trust and loyalty among buyers. Meanwhile, personalising content and providing proactive support can significantly increase conversion rates. This is the foundation upon which companies can begin to build long-term partnerships with customers who value your expertise and assistance, as well as your service.
Implementing buyer enablement in manufacturing isn’t overly complex. Intergage break it down into a nine-step process. Everything starts with a shift in mindset, recognising that your buyers are partners in the journey, not just endpoints of the sale. Knowing exactly who your ideal customer is makes it far easier to sell to them and gives you the opportunity to build upon data and analytics on buyer behaviour, preferences and pain points to better understand their needs.
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Once you’re familiar with your ideal buyer, it’s important to educate your teams, equipping sales and marketing with the knowledge and skills they need to provide support and produce content which educates.
Let’s not forget your tech stack, either. Everyone has one. Implementing, or better leveraging, your CRM is a great starting point. But to engage and empower your buyers even better, you can use marketing automation tools to personalise your communications and provide timely support.
It’s important to remember that no process is perfect first try. Buyer enablement is somewhat iterative, meaning you should be continuously monitoring resultant data to gauge the effectiveness of your strategies. For instance, interviewing customers at every stage of the journey, from prospect to long-term client provides a detailed, and tailored, insight into how your buyers find the process you’re conducting.
None of this is to diminish the position of British manufacturing at present; the industry’s resilience is crucial to its enduring success. But it’s important to consider that adapting your sales strategy is as necessary as adaptations in your production line when it comes to building out success. By focusing on the buyer’s journey, providing education, and offering personalised support, you can ensure your customers don’t just stay—you can help them thrive. In turn, you’ll win better business.
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