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Jellyfish and the Future of B2B Buying

May 04, 2020 | By Robin Whiting

  • B2B buyers are altering their behaviors in response to changes in their environment
  • B2B buyers expect their buying interactions with organizations to be open, connected, intuitive, and immediate
  • Amy Hayes and Steve Casey analyzed these trends in their keynote Summit presentation “The Future of Buying: How to Anticipate and Plan for Your Buyers’ Evolving Expectations”

Humans, as relatively recent arrivals, have a lot to learn from some of the veterans of evolution, which can teach us a thing or two about adapting to change. Amy Hayes and Steve Casey put this idea in perspective by recounting some facts about jellyfish, the oldest living animal group on Earth, as they introduced their Summit keynote presentation “The Future of Buying: How to Anticipate and Plan for Your Buyers’ Evolving Expectations.”

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“Did you know that jellyfish are the oldest living animal group on earth?” Amy asked. “They’ve survived for more than 500 million years. They’ve seen ice ages and dinosaurs come and go.”

“You are probably wondering what jellyfish have to do with the future of B2B buying,” Amy added. “A species could not survive like the jellyfish has without finding ingenious ways to adapt. Like jellyfish, our customers are rapidly adapting to their changing environment. This is leading to several critical issues for B2B organizations.”

B2B buyers have been changing their behaviors in response to a number of factors, including increased access to information, changing demographics, the influence of increasingly frictionless consumer experiences, and, in the last few months, social distancing. These may seem like unrelated changes, “but our research has shown that we’ve now reached an inflection point where all these changes are being driven by a common set of expectations,” said Steve. “Taken together, at the most macro level, what buyers are telling us through these behaviors — if only we’d listen — is that they just want to be treated as equal partners in the relationships we have with them. Our job is no longer to convince the buyer to buy. It’s to help the buyer buy.”

Steve and Amy outlined four primary expectations of today’s B2B buyers:

  • Open. Buyers expect more visibility and easier access to relevant information such as pricing, business practices, policies, and market feedback.
  • Connected. Buyers expect providers to work with them on a shared set of goals throughout the pre- and post-sale experience.
  • Intuitive. Buyers expect providers to know who they are and what they want in every experience they have throughout the lifecycle of the relationship.
  • Immediate. Buyers expect providers to be present and proactive at every moment of their journey, in all their preferred channels, and at their touchpoints.   

To help organizations anticipate and plan for these expectations, Steve and Amy introduced the SiriusDecisions Buyer Empowerment Model, which helps to uncover the set of circumstances, or buying motions, that prompts each buyer’s journey. Understanding the most common buying motions of a target audience will help go-to-market teams prioritize which of the primary buyer expectations are the most important for that audience.

Organizations that want to keep up with buyer evolution also need to evolve. “Our buyers are remarkably adaptable and fluid,” said Amy. “The first step is to gain alignment across sales, marketing, and product about who your target market segments and buyers are. Next, after exploring the different buying motions your buyers are most likely to follow, connect buying motions with buyer expectations so you can develop the best buyer empowerment strategies for your target audiences.”

For more insights from Amy and Steve's Summit presentation, read this post.

2021 Summit

May 2-5, 2021 | Austin Convention Center

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Robin Whiting

Robin Nicole Whiting is a senior editor at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 20 years of experience as a communications professional, covering a wide range of industries. Follow Robin on Twitter at @RobinWhiting1.

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