Denys Prykhodov - stock.adobe.co
Customers are very much in the driving seat when it comes to making IT purchases and the channel needs to be aware of the shift in power.
This is not just about giving up on pitches that rely on speeds and feeds and trying to confuse the customer into making the technology decision that they are being recommended but is more of a cultural shift that means business buyers are acting more like consumers.
Traditionally users were guided through the sales process but these days they are much more in control of the process, with a clearer understanding of what they want and a the role for the reseller is moving in some cases to be a facilitator rather than a lecturer.
Research from Forrester has described B2B buyers acting more as consumers and engaging later in the buying process with suppliers. Once they do talk to the channel the expectation is that the reseller will be able to help them meet the business goals that they have already decided need to be met.
According to the The Birth Of The B2B Consumer, Adopt A B2C Mindset To Meet Buyers’ Changing Preferences report from Steve Casey, principal analyst at Forrester, the buying process is going through an evolution that will require some adaptation in the pitches coming from sales people.
"B2B marketers need to make the transition from traditional hard-sell tactics to a more empathetic engagement strategy that helps the B2B consumer buy," stated the report.
There are lessons that the big ecommerce players can teach the channel and trying to resist matching the expectations they are setting in the market is not going to be the right response.
"eCommerce and technology companies are leading the way in serving the B2B consumer today, but all industries need to follow," stated the Forrester report.
Last week, the Misco boss Alan Cantwell said that there was room to compete against the large etailers, which were moving more into the business space, as long as the channel concentrated on delivering value.
"Amazon might be B2C but they are becoming more B2B but it is going to struggle on the value add," he said.
Cantwell said there was an opportunity for IT specialists to "set themselves apart" from some of the big etailers with better pre and post sales support.