3 questions every B2B buyer should ask themselves. Have you?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn. View the original post here. 

Digital transformation has remained top-of-mind for B2B companies for more than two decades — it isn’t a new concept. The only difference between now and 20 years ago is there are no more excuses for being a digital laggard.

The nature of work has evolved in tandem with technology advancements, creating a dual space and need for organizations to communicate and collaborate online. Especially given the universal shift to remote and hybrid work over the past two years, digital capabilities are no longer a “nice-to-have” for B2B buyers and suppliers — they’re a must. As a result, buyers are holding suppliers to increasingly high standards in regards to efficiency, convenience, and communication. And considering the needs of buyers are not consistently met, their frustrations are valid. Sound familiar?

Our 2022 B2B Buyers report offers guidance on how buyers and suppliers can align on eCommerce standards. However, when applying a critical lens to your external partnerships, you’d be remiss to not also look inward at your own organization and processes to identify areas for improvement. 

Is your company holding itself back from greater digital success?

 

A self-reflection guide for B2B buyers

According to our 2022 B2B Buyers report, nearly 80% of B2B buyers rate their organization a 4 or 5 when asked how open it is to change. Despite this self-identified willingness to evolve, many decision-makers still struggle to turn their optimism into action.

But digital transformation can’t be a waiting game anymore. In 2022 and beyond, as a business leader you must ensure your teams are set up for success in their jobs, no matter their location. The nature of work has permanently changed and if you aren’t delivering efficiencies and convenience to your employees and customers, someone else will. In fact, 85% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor if their supplier’s digital channel can’t keep up with their needs as a buyer.

It’s time to reflect on the processes and systems in place within your organization — and you can start with these three questions:

 

1. Are your decision-making processes efficient? What about your communication practices?

In the past, you could gather 15 people in a conference room to discuss and make important business decisions. Now, with dispersed workforces and a larger number of stakeholders involved in decision-making, you require processes that enable you to effectively and efficiently push out information to customers. The average decision or communication now involves discussions between multiple stakeholders at buyer, supplier, and customer levels, which means each individual point of communication must be effective and flexible. And because customers can now access data quickly online, those communications must also be fast.

It’s important your teams are aligned internally so you can provide clear and comprehensive information to customers regarding pricing, inventory, and more. When you aren’t on the same page internally, it’s nearly impossible to be on the same page with your customers. Your customer journey and relationships hinge on the strength and adaptability of your internal operations and teams — as does your ability to curate intentional experiences for customers across all touchpoints. Are your internal operations orchestrated to make this happen day in and day out.

2. Do you prioritize roles over individuals?

When an individual occupies a role at your organization for an extended period of time, they become integral to operations. But what happens when the individual leaves your company or gets promoted? When you find someone new to fill the position, you may realize their work style differs from previous employees. And if the expectations for a specific role are unclear, you risk both internal and external communication breakdowns. Don’t tie expectations to individuals — instead, focus on roles.

This is a very real conundrum for many organizations as turnover rates skyrocketed over the past two years — you must be able to communicate expectations for each role across your organization so any changes feel seamless for employees and customers. A large part of this question mark is solved by building detailed capability models. In addition to a typical organizational chart, create a capability model that describes the specific responsibilities of each role contributing to your customer experience and value stream. This flexible approach enables you to adjust your communication model and execution as relationships with customers evolve while still setting clear expectations for employees.

3. Can you adapt to market changes?

If the past several years taught us anything, it’s that change is always on the horizon — market and economic shifts included. In response to global market shifts, agility has become a differentiating factor across B2B industries. For instance, when inflation reached 9.1% in June, were you able to adjust pricing to reflect your supply chain and relay those changes to customers in a timely manner? If you made the strategic choice not to pass along those costs directly to your customers, do you have the flexibility to address other areas of your cost of service to offset the difference?  If you have the protocols and procedures in place to handle such changes, you are better positioned to respond swiftly — which is imperative considering the cyclical nature of the market.

If you wait until headwinds are at your doorstep, you may end up trying to adjust while your competitors who have prioritized these efficiencies thrive. Likewise, when markets rise, don’t waste time playing catch-up and miss out on key growth opportunities when you can implement sustainable efficiencies in your day-to-day. The ability to quickly and fluidly react to change — both good and bad — is strategic priority No. 1. 

 

Don’t Settle for Subpar Digital Capabilities

There are no excuses left in 2022 for inefficient processes and lagging digital capabilities. If you can’t provide partners and customers with convenient and comprehensive digital experiences, you risk losing them to competitors. But if you feel overwhelmed by the questions above or aren’t sure how to operationalize your digital transformation efforts, don’t worry. Digital transformation is a journey, not a one-time action — and we’re here to help.

Contact our team to define your digital roadmap and optimize processes to best meet evolving customer needs.

 

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