Amazon is successful for lots of reasons that all contribute to a delightfully repeatable customer experience. This experience is scientifically fine-tuned from product search and purchase to mind-boggling two-day delivery and packaging.
But let’s drill down into Amazon’s customer journey. It’s downright easy because it’s guided. Virtually all of the friction has been removed. Search is powerful and accurate. The interface is responsive, making it easy for customers to shop on any device. Reviews, pricing info, product shots, live chat, Q&As, videos, specs, seller ratings… Everything a customer could possibly want to know throughout their buying journey is at their fingertips. They save payment info, reduce the number of clicks it takes to check-out and deliver personalized support until yet another brown box (THAT ACTUALLY HAS A SMILE ON IT) arrives at your doorstep.
This amazingly efficient, guided customer journey has done something to us. It has created expectations. As consumers, we have come to expect an Amazon-like experience in almost anything we do online.
So What’s Any of this B2C Customer Experience Stuff Have to do with B2B Sales?
It’s actually pretty straightforward. Your prospects, your customers? They’re Amazon customers. And whether they realize it or not, they are bringing those Amazon expectations into the workplace. They are expecting a digital-first guided journey that is so easy and so aligned with what they need and how they shop that anything less doesn’t get a second chance. They don’t want an informational cold call. They want to self-educate, just like they do on Amazon. They’re not interested in generic sales content. They want custom personalization, just like they get on Amazon. They have no time for 56-slide decks. They want a quick video they can access from any device at any time, just like — you get the idea.
Your customer, as our headline says, has been Amazon-ified. And that spells opportunity.
How B2B Sales Pros Can Capitalize on New Buying Behaviors
When you understand how your customer buys and how those behaviors have changed, you have the opportunity to deliver the customer experience they need and expect, not the cookie-cutter “process” you’ve been trying to cram down their throats.
As digital-first becomes the norm, think about how you need to engage differently. Instead of relying on a static website that falls (way) short of managing the guided experience today’s Amazon-ified customer has come to expect, ask yourself: how can we create a journey that is personalized, guided and frictionless?
As that “average decision makers” number continues to climb (it’s like at 6.8 now, right?), think about what that means for the buyer journey. Better yet, think about it in the context of the other behaviors like digital-first. If 6.8 decision makers need to consume your sales content and they’re doing so from every device and browser under the sun, you need a way to solve that.
B2B is consultative. There are more people involved and it takes more time. Those elements demand a more personalized, collaborative journey in which sales teams guide their customers.
Finally, consider how your customers are collaborating internally as well as how they might want to collaborate with you. According to Amazon-ification, they want to validate and discuss amongst themselves before they pull you in. But if you’re orchestrating the whole thing, you’re in a good place. You’ll know when they want you. When a prospect initiates engagement, you’re practically home.
Amazon’s guided customer journey is pulling consumer brick-and-mortar traffic away in droves, but the opposite actually occurs in the B2B world because a guided B2B customer journey naturally spurs consultation. A guided B2B customer journey will deepen relationships, help you and your team better understand what’s working and what isn’t and, ultimately, drive long-term partnerships benefitting both provider and customer.
The Amazon-ification of the B2B buyer is real. It’s digital-first, frictionless and the customer is in control. Once you recognize those truths and design a journey that align with expectations, you’ll be rubbing elbows with Bezos himself. Or not. Let’s settle for converting a more predictable pipeline, hitting numbers and happy customers.