Narrative connections

Safety First

Safety First

Have you ever noticed how experiences are always enriched with loved ones? Travel, for example, can be mind-numbing and full of angst when you are alone. But, go anywhere with a significant other or your family and the whole vibe changes.

A delayed flight or crowded airports just don’t bother us as much when we are with the most important people in our lives. However, when we are alone every little slight or disturbance is magnified in a negative way. The sense of security that comes from being with our loved ones, makes just about anything palatable. It follows that buying experiences are greater with loved ones by our side as well.

The world can seem like a noisy and crowded place. Every act of indiscretion or malice is noted and trumpeted in our ears. So, it is no surprise that safety is at the core of our daily lives. In turn, we cling to those closest to us and don’t make decisions without their counsel. Whether we want a new car for status reasons or buying insurance from someone that is within our circle of friends, the level of influence of peers has never been greater.

The safety we seek within the B2C buying process is being mirrored in the B2B world. The availability of online content and the growth of social media have made B2B buyers more educated and informed about their options than ever before. And not only is information widely available, but it is also instantly accessible. Prospects are spending more time doing independent research and obtaining info from the people and resources they trust. According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process.

As a result, prospects no longer have to engage with sales reps in order to obtain the most basic information about a company and its products / services. Prospects can search online and quickly find information such as reviews, feedback, pricing, technical information, and competitive comparisons. But prospects still need the sale rep to guide them through the increasingly complex sales process, build the business case, and offer value-add insights.

The 21st-century buyer is increasingly cynical and critical of vendors. And they do not want to engage with reps who utilize a “one-size-fits-all strategy”. According to Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem. It is safety first and will go through a level of self discovery to feel secure.

So, it follows that B2B buyers, much like B2C buyers, are looking for vendors who understand their pain points and are knowledgeable about the industry. But more importantly, they want to know that you are from their world and committed to making the trip with them. As a result, brands should be able to provide perspective on the market and help the prospects interpret and apply research to their own situation and challenges. The kicker is that they need to do this before human contact ever takes place.

Look to the creation of content as the first step in becoming part of their inner circle. Research shows that the more trusted a brand is, the greater its effectiveness. One of the fastest ways for brands to build that trust is by focusing on helping their prospects rather than trying to sell to them. Buyers don’t want to hear a sales pitch – they want to learn something – and they want to find it themselves without being bothered.

Once in a blue moon, I will go shopping for clothes. The most painful thing is when a clerk asks if they can help you find something. I am a big boy and I can probably figure out how to navigate the big scary store by myself. The point is that, we don’t want to go on that journey with someone unfamiliar to us. And if my wife was with me, she would not only help guide me through the process, she would be picking out what I was going to buy.

Friends and family matter. That is who we want to be with and anybody outside that circle is just noise. Therefore, the objective for any brand or any seller is to let go of their wallet and build relationships in the same sincere manner that we would build them in our personal lives. And while that is difficult to do, you have to find a way to attract without human interaction.

B2B buyers are now relying on content to guide them through the complicated and confusing purchase process, from research to decision. They go through the same self discovery as we do in department store and will pull you in when they feel safe enough to ask for your support.

B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 sources in any buying situation; the more costly or complex the sale, the more pieces of content that are viewed. B2B buyers are more empowered and informed than ever before, and traditional sales strategies will continue to decline in effectiveness.

Most importantly, they want to feel safe. So, brands must adapt to better serve the needs of the modern buyer by understanding buyer personas, adding valuable content early on in the purchase process. It is a scary world for sure, but creating content is the kind of safety net you will need in order to become a trusted travel partner.

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Mark Potter

Founder / Consultant

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