Forrester forecasts that 1 million U.S. B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020. The B2B customer of today overwhelmingly prefers to research on their own and ultimately to buy products and services via a self-service website. Pair that with the fact that the average adult attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds and you are left with the “modern customer.”
Because the modern customer’s buying habits are continually evolving, marketing and sales teams are being forced to educate and engage customers in more strategic ways than ever before. Understanding that the modern customer is always connected, highly opinionated and easily distracted is just the beginning.
With a wealth of digital tools at our disposal today, marketing teams have an arsenal for dazzling customers and prospects. After the sales rep leaves the room, it’s the self-engaging digital tools that allow your customers to explore on their own terms that are yielding the best results.
Recently, ParkerWhite was tasked with helping ZEST Anchors launch their next generation LOCATOR Overdenture Attachment System. We unveiled an innovative Augmented Reality (AR) app to support the launch of their new LOCATOR R-Tx. By simply downloading the app to a phone or tablet, customers were able to see a 3D, 360-degree view of the product along with all of the new features and benefits from within their own devices. This created an interactive and engaging way to view the product giving customers and OEMs the freedom to explore the product and share the new experience with others. And the data collected from each interaction allows ZEST to begin to nurture that relationship.
Nothing can replace the value of a personal and trusted relationship, but the way sales are conducted today is shifting more and more to a virtual world. In healthcare, the sales rep is not only a product and technique expert but they are also having to play offensive debaters to position against new competitors and altered perceptions of clinical studies.
In situations like that, it’s best for sales representatives to turn the discussion into an interactive dialogue engaging the customer and making them feel like an active participant. This is exactly what we did for Halyard Health’s ON-Q* sales team to defend against a new pain modality. To adequately showcase the superiority of their products, we built an interactive PDF that acted as a sort of choose-your-own-adventure story. Customers could choose sections they wanted to learn more about without having to click through a bunch of slides they already understood. Depending on where the conversation was going the sales rep could easily jump to a certain chapter, allowing them to have deeper, more impactful conversations with potential customers.
Successful B2B marketing campaigns require both sales and marketing teams to recognize that developing relationships with prospective customers revolves around the engagement and optimization of each individual’s interaction. Creating environments and platforms that allow the customer to be the driver in his or her own understanding of your products rather than just being a passive recipient is paramount. When your customers are actively involved in the understanding of your products, rather than just being spoon-fed information, they will build stronger emotional connections with your brand, as you are able to communicate with them with content that is relevant to them greatly influencing purchasing decisions.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.