Young Buyers Are Driving B2B Expectations of B2C-Like Experiences

June 20, 2018

More than 8 in 10 business buyers want the same experience as when they’re buying for themselves, reveals Salesforce Research in its second annual State of the Connected Consumer report [download page]. The study indicates that the customer experience is hugely important to business buyers, 8 in 10 of whom say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

Business buyers are growing to expect more of a consumer-like experience when making purchases for their business, according to the study. Consider that:

  • Almost three-quarters of business buyers expect vendors to personalize engagement to their needs;
  • More than two-thirds expect Amazon-like buying experiences; and
  • Two-thirds have switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience.

The results bring to mind recent research from Avionos, in which 3 in 4 B2B procurement officers said they experience pain points during the e-commerce buying process, and that an equal share had switched suppliers based on the availability of certain tools.

The Salesforce report indicates that vendors are improving, but can do a better job. Fully two-thirds of business buyers surveyed think vendors are providing more retail-like experiences than ever before. But at the same time, half have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience, and close to half (45%) believe most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences.

The study also suggests that business buyers’ expectations are growing faster than even those of consumers. For example, business buyers (73%) were more likely than consumers (64%) to say that their standard for good experiences are higher than ever.

Moreover, business buyers emerged as placing more value than consumers on both product recommendations and seamless transitions between channels.

The good news is that business buyers are also more apt than consumers to pay more for a great experience (74% will do so) and more likely to share a good experience with others (77% will do so). That’s particularly important in light of research indicating that word-of-mouth is critical in B2B buyers’ vendor selection process. In fact, Salesforce’s research shows that business buyers are almost 3 times more likely to consider user-generated content including reviews and testimonials as important than unimportant.

Meanwhile, it seems that younger business buyers are driving the trend towards B2C-like experiences. For example, Millennials/Gen Zers (born 1981-1999) were far more likely than Baby Boomers and Traditionalists (born before 1965) to expect Amazon-like buying experiences (77% and 54%, respectively). They were also far more likely to report having switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience (74% and 50%, respectively).

Satisfying Millennials’ expectations will only become more important over time, as research suggests that this generation already represents the largest cohort of buyers researching purchases.

Business Buyers Value Innovation

Recent research has shown that B2B marketers are focusing foremost on the customer experience, product/service innovation and product/service quality – and these seem to be wise choices.

The Salesforce study finds that 71% of business buyers expect companies to provide new products/services more frequently than ever before, a standard that fewer (59%) consumers have adopted. Furthermore, 72% of business buyers claim that it takes more for a company to impress them with new products/services than ever before, versus 64% of consumers.

Finally, two-thirds of business buyers actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies (such as those that consistently introduce new products/services based on customer needs and new technology), compared to half of the consumers surveyed.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 6,723 consumers and business buyers in Australia/New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Mexico, the
Netherlands, the Nordics, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All respondents are third-party panelists (not limited to Salesforce customers).

Business buyers – defined as “those reporting on their interactions with companies when purchasing on behalf of their employers” – represented one-third (33%) of the overall survey sample.

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