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Business-to-business sales and marketing have evolved rapidly over recent years as digitization has transformed the way buyers research and procure products and services.

Buyers are more conscious of the need to extract the maximum value from the supply chain, mainly because digitization has provided platforms and tools that allow them to collect and analyze more supply chain and procurement data than ever before.

Buyers also have access to richer and more diverse product and supplier information than in the past: Google is now a primary research tool for procurement professionals.

In short, there is an information revolution at all levels of the B2B market. Sellers no longer have control over the flow of information to buyers, and buyers are intolerant of systems and processes that attempt to limit their access to information: They expect relevant and detailed information to be available to them at their convenience, and they are wary of having to go through the gatekeeper of a seller's sales department. That's true of buyers of any size, from business units in global corporations to small local companies.

What can B2B suppliers do to ensure that buyers have access to the information they expect?

E-Commerce Is No Longer Optional

Not too long ago, B2B sellers could rely on a prospective buyer to pick up the phone early in the vendor selection process. Today, buyers get much deeper into the purchase funnel before they make contact with a seller's sales department. They often want to talk to a salesperson at some point in the sales process, but initial vendor selection is based on independent research informed by company and product information that can be found online.

Today, when a buyer can't find sufficient information online, their next step is not to contact the vendor's sales team but to drop the vendor from consideration altogether. That's most likely the case in highly competitive sectors.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Brady Behrman

Brady Behrman is the CEO and a founding partner of PunchOut2Go, provider of punchout catalog solutions for suppliers, order-to-invoice automation, and B2B e-procurement solutions.

LinkedIn: Brady Behrman

Twitter: @bradybehrman