There’s a perfect storm brewing in front of marketers at B2B manufacturing brands. Amidst the rise of B2B e-commerce and surging competitive pressure on established distribution partners, shifts in buyer preferences are also creating cause for concern.

Gen Xers and Millennials report being 1.4x and 2.2x more skeptical, respectively, of any claims made by sales than Baby Boomers, according to Gartner’s 2018 B2B Buying Survey. In other words, forcing buyers to learn through sales-owned channels isn’t going to cut it. So, how do you sell to people without using what appear to be sales tactics?

In light of that trend, B2B marketers must focus on helping a growing class of digitally native and digitally savvy customers navigate complex purchase decisions. Content and guided selling tools that help customers make decisions, as opposed to just selecting a specific product, lead to higher rates of buyer reported purchase ease and lower rates of purchase regret. However, as data from Gartner L2’s inaugural Digital IQ Index: B2B Manufacturing suggests, building out this kind of portfolio is easier said than done.

The adoption rates of guided selling tools and content that Gartner has found to be most helpful in helping B2B buyers complete their buying jobs are overwhelmingly low for brands across the Index. Outside of embarking a full-fledged content audit, marketing teams faced with a mandate to refine or retool their content strategies can start by asking themselves two questions:

  1. Do we provide our buyers the support they need to help them understand what to do and how to do it (i.e. prescriptive advice)?
  2. Do we provide our buyers the support they need to help them complete discrete, job-related activities (i.e. practical support)?

These are integral to the successful execution of buyer enablement strategies. By anticipating the needs of the buyer and curating a clear and easy-to-navigate set of insights and interactive tools on site, such as calculators or user-driven diagnostics, brands will help enable buyers to find the answers to their own questions and, as a result, simplify the purchase process.

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