How you can help your customers before they contact you.
“57% of the purchase decision is complete online before a customer even calls a supplier.” (CEB)
Let that sink in a little bit more.
If you work in B2B sales this fact should give you goosebumps.
Your customers, by the time they contact you for the first time, have already a pretty good idea of what they want. Whether you believe this or not, there is one thing you can do to ensure that you remain the front runner.
Here’s what you can do about the 57%
It is obvious that you, as a vendor, cannot control exactly what your customers will learn about you. After all, the internet is filled with helpful expert reviews, or even peer review sites that will have an opinion on your product. (BTW: Did you know Tacton was named the Go-to software by Gartner and is also highly ranked on G2Crowd? #shamelessbrag)
The one thing that you CAN control is what they see on your website. More specifically, your entire website should focus on answering “yes” to this question form your customers: Does this company have the product that is going to solve my problem(s)?
Until recently, vendors have tried to answer this question by describing their products and services. However, despite their best efforts, customers still had to do some guesswork or attempt to match these descriptions to their problems. The harder it is for them to figure out if your products are right from them > the more uncertainly > the less eager they will be to contact you.
Describing your product isn’t enough, you must SHOW your products
As we’ve just hinted, uncertainty is one of the things that vendors must try to eliminate. Uncertainly is generated when there is a gap between what the solution that you are offering and the problem they need to solve. The bigger the disconnect, the bigger the uncertainty, the less likely they’ll contact you.
Product descriptions (text, images, and videos) can only get you so far. If you want your customers to be certain that your product is going to solve their problems, you must show them exactly what they need.
By describing your product, you are asking your prospects to embrace uncertainty.
Whereas, by “showing” they can see exactly how your products solve their problems.
Showing requires some level of interaction. Until recently, it was simply impossible to “show” the product before the customer contacted the vendor.
Showing your products with an online configurator
In B2B, especially for manufacturers of complex solutions, Product Configuration is an indispensable part of the sales process. It wasn’t until the customer saw a customized product that there was certainly in their purchasing decision.
This situation meant that the customer had to engage with the supplier without having certainty that the product would be able to meet their specific needs.
Today, thanks to advancements in configuration technology, vendors have a way for “showing” a configurated product without the need of the vendor’s interaction. We are referring to, as the subtitle suggest, to an online configurator where visitors can configure a complex product to match their specifications.
This means that the customer can have a higher level or certainly by the time they contact the customer.
Some examples of B2B companies using an online configurator to help their customers during the initial 57%
- Piab – A Swedish manufacturer of air-conveyors, and production machinery. Their online configurator allows the visitor to select the type of use and performance, and the visitor can obtain a 3D image of the product, along with the product’s specifications.
- Mercedes Benz Trucks – Trucks and other heavy vehicles require a high degree of customization depending on the performance, type of use and lifecycle maintenance that is preferred by the customer. Here the visitor can explore various options and configurations available.
Aside from the ability to eliminate uncertainly, these companies experience an added bonus to having an online configurator. They were able to tap into what is commonly referred to as The Ikea Effect. An unconscious bias that was explained in more detail here.
Currently, 57% of the buyer’s journey is done independently without the vendor’s engagement, a number is likely to increase. B2B companies selling complex products should embrace the fact that consumers today are using the internet to guide them. It is in their best interest to provide ways to not just describe their product, but also to show them that their product is right for them. The goal is to eliminate uncertainty and help them move closer to have them engage with you.