I covered the premise of this report in my first blog post — but I’ll summarize it here again: multiple Forrester surveys have shown that B2B buyers strongly prefer to conduct their own research, without ever speaking with a sales rep. Forward-thinking B2B marketers will embrace this change and enable the customer-directed research journey with self-service technologies such as contextual help solutions and virtual agents.
Many B2B marketers may feel that this is a risky move — giving up control and resisting the urge to email or call every prospect who lands on your site and guide them along a carefully crafted content path — but after more than a dozen conversations with vendors and their customers to create my report, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the right thing to do. This is true for lots of reasons, which I cover in the report, but the most important one is that we’re all digital consumers now. So the self-service habits we have all learned over the last decade or so are now preferred behaviors — even for B2B buyers, who now just want to be left alone to find the content they need.
Greetings! This is week three in my journey as a Forrester analyst serving you, B2B marketing professionals, after nearly as many decades as a practitioner like you. I'd like to start our conversation by sharing an idea I had the opportunity to explore during the interview process for this position.
It was a process I enjoyed tremendously by the way, because it allowed me to connect the dots between several trends I had observed in my most recent role, where I led marketing for a digital engagement platform vendor, and some recent research from Forrester, most notably the Death Of A (B2B) Salesman report that struck such a nerve in the Forrester client base and beyond.
One of the conclusions of that and other Forrester reports that resonated most with me is that B2B buyers now prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products and services prior to purchase. And it’s not even a close call! The survey conducted for the Death of a Salesman report showed that by a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate rather than talk to sales representatives to learn about products and services.
Ironically, we B2B marketers have only ourselves to blame for this dramatic shift. By creating, publishing, and promoting a wealth of content to maximize the results from our SEO, PPC, and marketing automation campaigns, we’ve also made it possible (but not yet easy) for prospects to learn much of what they need to know prior to purchase. This has enabled more than half of all B2B buyers to now develop a set of selection criteria or finalize a list of potential vendors — based on digital content alone — without ever speaking to anyone at those organizations.
By "robots," we mean all forms of automation technologies, including those that conductphysical tasks, intellectual tasks, or customer service tasks (which mix elements of both physical and intellectual activities, but which constitute a distinct category in the age of the customer). Indeed, some impressive new technologies are becoming incredibly useful in a variety of organizational settings. Take, for example, Rethink Robotics' Baxter robot, seen in the video below. Unlike traditional industrial robots, it's safe for workers to be around Baxter -- and it's imperative, too. Because software engineers don't program Baxter; human colleagues simply move the robot's arm to teach it new actions, and it learns in real time.