One in 5 B2B buyers across the world reports using social media posts to research and evaluate suppliers, according to recently-released research from McKinsey. The survey – fielded among almost 4,000 B2B customers and sellers in December 2022 – also finds that close to as many (18%) are using mobile apps for the same purpose.
In each case, the percentage of respondents using these sales channels to research and evaluate suppliers represents significant growth from 2019, when just 4% (for each channel) reported the same. Likewise, in 2019 only 4% of respondents said they used text messages to research and evaluate suppliers, whereas in this latest research, that figure has jumped to 15%.
The analysts note that the number of sales channels used across the buying journey has grown from 5 in 2016 to 10 this year. This is why McKinsey has advocated for an omnichannel approach, finding a link between the number of channels used and market share gains for B2B sellers.
In fact, buyers have gravitated towards a divided mix of approaches to interacting with suppliers’ sales reps, according to this latest survey. When identifying and researching new suppliers, buyers express a preference for a near-even mix of digital self-serve (34% share), remote human interactions (32% share), and traditional interactions (34% share). That mix is also evident when considering and evaluating new suppliers, and when ordering. There is slightly more preference for digital self-serve (37% share) than remote human interactions (32%) and traditional interactions (31%) when re-ordering.
This makes B2B e-commerce (which has suffered in the past from some CX challenges) critical. Indeed, 35% of respondents rated e-commerce the most effective sales channel, topping in-person sales (26%), video conference (12%), email (10%) and the phone (8%). Additionally, about 7 in 10 decision-makers report being prepared to spend up to $500K on a single e-commerce transaction.
Given the even mix of channels used by buyers, it’s perhaps not surprising that “winning companies” (those that gained >10% market share between 2021 and 2022) have used hybrid sales models – with their mix of in-person and remote interactions with customers – to a greater extent than companies that have lost market share (58% and 40%, respectively).
Winning companies are also more likely to be deploying other strategies, including advanced sales tool usage. For example, 64% are using chatbots, compared to 42% of laggards (who lost more than 5% market share from 2021 to 2022). Winners are also ahead in delivering highly personalized marketing and tailored strategies on third-party marketplaces. They’re also 76% more likely to have already invested in an owned marketplace (44% vs. 25%).
Finally, winners are almost twice as likely as laggards to be increasing their investments in their sales organizations and to be increasing their capital expenditures.
For more, check out the full analysis here.
About the Data: The results are based on a December 2022 survey of 3,862 B2B customers and sellers in decision-making roles in Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US.