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B2B Sales is changing

According to Forrester, the percentage of B2B buyers who prefer to do research online increased from 53% in 2015 to 68% in 2017. But it’s not just pre-sales research. Accenture’s research indicates that when you look at the end-to-end buying process, 94% of buyers do online research. The digital shift has completely transformed B2C buying behaviors, and while B2B has been more resistant to the shift, those changes are coming.

To take advantage of this trend, successful digital sales leaders will recalibrate where resources and management attention is focused. Sales Reps will continue to be a key part of the B2B sales process, especially during the final phases of high consideration purchases. But online capabilities, especially during the research phase, needs a better seat at your sales table.

Are you doing enough?

B2B buyers are moving online, but B2B sellers are still struggling to catch up. Most aren’t dedicating enough resources to enabling their digital selling capabilities. How do we know this?

Early digital investments have been on marketing (e.g. SEO, PPC, Content Marketing), website redesigns and improving content. We know these changes have been the focus because of the multi-billion dollar industries that have been created to serve the demand. However, all those efforts are largely to drive the B2B buyer to the front door (e.g. a landing page or website homepage). What happens after they get in?

It’s especially tricky when traffic is organic. Those visitors aren’t benefiting from targeted landing pages with clear calls to action. They have to find their way to just the right place in order to find the thing that you have that meets their needs. If your business and website are simple, straightforward navigation may be the answer. But what if you’re a large enterprise with many offerings across divisions? What is the customer experience that progresses their buyer’s journey?

Ugh, it’s your search engine

Site navigation often mirrors organizational/product complexity. It’s not the digital team’s fault that you have lots of products scattered across business units and product teams. Figuring out a navigation scheme that makes sense to all the buying personas across those products is difficult, perhaps even folly.

Fortunately, your prospects have been well trained by their consumer experiences. They’re going to look to the top right of your page for your internal search engine. Now I know some of you are cringing at this point. You know what I’m about to say. For those of you who are blissfully unaware, the search engine you have is likely a random page generator.

So why is it so awful? Well, because you’ve been spending your time on all the other things that fill the day. And this is a shame because site search is fast becoming a critical part of many buyer’s journeys (up to 50% of your visitors use site search). So how do you get on top of this?

Three things you can do to make search better

Like anything, it’s going to require focused effort to fix things in site search. But it will be worth it. All those buyer’s journeys that are now abandoning in the search engine can be harvested. There’s real ROI there.

So, get started.

  1. First you need to measure search success. We already talked about how you’re probably measuring site search wrong. You can’t fix something until you understand it.
  2. Prioritize the keywords and buyer’s journeys that are: A) Most broken (e.g. lowest success rates) and B) most important to growth (e.g. those keywords associated with marketing efforts).
  3. Focus on improving the content. That will allow the right content to rank higher in search results and high quality content will improve conversion rates.

Eliminate your random page generator. Improve customer experience. Improve sales. Not sure how to start? Connect with us.

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