Staying ahead in a digitalized world: 4 tips for B2B companies

As consumer-driven changes in the B2C market reach the shores of B2B, the B2B market is scrambling to catch up. Avensia’s experts Alexandra Dornérus and Marcus Hillum break down how to maintain relevance in a digital landscape – and what happens if you don’t.

 Digitalized consumer behavior has been keeping B2C players on their toes for a number of years. Today, as 71% of B2B researchers start their search with a generic search online according to Google, buyer behavior is increasingly mirroring that of the consumer. Meaning that the B2B market is set to be kept on its toes for the foreseeable future as well.

 Current digital development points towards an imminent streamlining of processes within the supply chain, which could – and probably will – eventually result in a shorter supply chain. Thus, there is no better time than now for a business to manifest its importance to the process.

 “Falling behind in the establishment and visibility of your brand means you’ll soon see innovators with products of lesser quality get ahead of you. Or maybe the retailer will find it easy enough to skip a step in the supply chain and go straight to the manufacturer,” says Alexandra Dornérus, Commerce Advisor at Avensia. “In some markets, in some countries, this is already happening.”

 But there are ways for B2B companies to adapt and stay in the game. Avensia’s experts Alexandra Dornérus and Marcus Hillum, Senior Business Development Executive, list their top four points on how to make it in an increasingly digitalized B2B market.

 Break the rules

  • Know the consumer
  • Brand for your life
  • Recruit digital leaders and talent

 Fundamentally changing a business to successfully take on tomorrow whilst sticking to the processes of yesterday is – to put it simply – impossible. Adapting to a market that is more or less made up of Google, means having to create a business environment that allows for the technical experimentation required to remain relevant.     

 Businesses that are faster and more relevant on the market are the ones that will be seen and obtain the golden opportunity to catch the buyer at the very beginning of their journey.

 In order to get there, Avensia’s Alexandra Dornérus’ recommendation for many businesses is to invest in a technical foundation that allows for flexibility and new methods. 

“You can’t implement what you always have, you need to break the rules. You’ll need a supportive system that’ll see to all the new work processes required to stay ahead,” she says.

 Many get stuck trying to do things halfheartedly on their own. Instead, it is advisable to seek guidance from an external partner. 

 As Avensia’s Marcus Hillum explains, “it’s really about keeping three things close to heart: simplicity, customer insights, and the ability and will to change.”

Tough competition and changing consumer needs haven’t been as tangible for B2B companies as they have been for B2C, which is essentially why the former arguably has a way to go in meeting the demands now at hand.     

As the B2C industry experiences a generational change, the B2B market in turn is experiencing increased digitalized customer behavior, calling for a shift in focus. To not only catch up, but actually stay ahead of the curve to see to client needs, B2B companies need to look directly to consumer behavior.

“For one, you won’t be able to maintain fruitful B2B relationships if you can’t create and provide adequate information that they can use and also convey to the consumer,” says Marcus Hillum.

He further explains that in many industries, obtaining more flexible systems that are better at handling real-time updates are the key to maintaining good business and client relationships. A development that – like much else – originates in consumer needs and demands.

The days of B2B companies operating more anonymously and behind the scenes are long gone. Establishing your brand and reaching out with it is an evident must – but what does that mean in practice?

“B2B companies should really be looking into whether and how they could be owning the best product descriptions and SEO content out there themselves. They should perhaps even become established experts on their products, and make insightful content with this expertise” says Alexandra Dornérus.

Much like with any other business today, in order to succeed, branding efforts shouldn’t stop there. Providing a holistic experience of a brand requires you to consider everything from content to employer branding. Not to mention, how to reach through in all channels. Call it the omnichannel effect.

But all these points and questions eventually give rise to another rather important one: the question of resources. Be it data, talent or financial capability. Ultimately, how good your brand can become at establishing itself is directly related to these resources, and how you choose to use and distribute them.

Developing your business in the right direction requires thoughtful – and informed – leadership. As such, it is crucial to hire leaders that have a firm grasp of the contemporary market and understand the urgent need for developing a strong digital focus.

“Naturally, a lot of B2B organizations will be looking for B2C experience in a prospect, as they’ll be familiar with the challenges they currently face,” says Alexandra Dornerús, further stressing that, “as a recruiter, it is important to focus on this skill and competence that is related to the change at hand rather than the particular system or process that needs to be changed.”

This also means that roles previously unfamiliar to many B2B companies are bound to become important components of their organization’s development, as Marcus Hillum points out:

“Many B2B players are in urgent need of strengthening their marketing department, either by recruitment or training. They need less people that simply work with the gathering of information, and more people that work with developing rich content.”

What’s more, the generational shift taking place in many leading positions makes for a great opportunity to create and nurture ambassadors that are ready to champion the internal changes your business needs. From the board room to the office, these ambassadors will play a key role in shaping a successful business for the future.