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2CV Research – 7 December 2021
Source www.2cv.com

Let’s re-state the obvious: the pandemic has changed the world and generated uncertainty. Tech companies across the globe are realizing that their assumptions about what their customers want – and how they want to get it – have changed massively. None more so than in the B2B world, where business customers have had to adapt fast to lockdowns, hybrid working and a lack of in-person business opportunities.

It’s no surprise, then, that we’re seeing a spike in demand for B2B research, particularly in sectors that historically have relied on tried and tested channel strategies and loyal customers. Two sectors in particular have had to rip up the rule book and change focus rapidly:

  • Office technology products, like printers and PCs
  • Business telecoms carriers and manufacturers

Many employees are now working from home at least some of the time, and virtual meetings are still the norm. And it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. So, IT decision-makers are rushing to adapt their infrastructure and support mechanisms to cater for these new working styles. Bye bye large office copiers, hello small desktop printers. Business landlines are out, Mobile Device Management is in. And with the change in focus comes supply chain issues, messaging and positioning challenges and reassessment of what customers want now. It was so much easier in 2019, wasn’t it?

The most effective businesses are those that see the new opportunities in these circumstances. We’ve been helping a range of tech sector brands with a root-and-branch reassessment of what their business customers need today and in the future, and how to optimize channel partners to deliver this smoothly and effectively. This is where proper market research can really help turn around a brand and a business. We’ll leave you with our top five tips for tech companies looking to enhance their B2B business:

  1. Check your market sizing assumptions are up to date. Are you still focusing on the largest and most profitable sectors? Some of the largest companies are still planning strategies underpinned by data and assumptions that are several years old (we won’t name names!).
  2. Get independent, impartial feedback from your indirect sales channel. Your resellers, retailers, distributors and systems integrators hold valuable intelligence on your customers and your competitors. But you’ll need an independent third-party insight specialist to draw this out. Done right, channel partner research can produce nuggets of valuable insights you can’t get by other means.
  3. Control your customers’ influencers. We’ve run studies demonstrating that while many decision-makers agree that company X’s solution is the best on paper, company Y actually gets the business because of the recommendation or endorsement of just one trusted advisor or website. Even those companies whose buying process is formal and rigid are susceptible to this. Research can help unlock the ‘real’ purchasing journey and point out where you need to focus your efforts.
  4. Consider segmenting your business customers. According to both attitude and firmographic markers: an organisation’s ethos (risk averse, early adopters etc.) is being magnified by the pandemic, impacting the speed and urgency with which they take decisions. Think about overlaying your classification of businesses with their corporate mindset. This can often identify sub-groups with new unmet needs that they are quickly looking to fulfil. Armed with this intelligence, you might be able to pivot to meet these needs.
  5. Remember that your business customers are humans, too. They can be forgetful, stressed, under-trained, emotional and biased, just like consumers often are. Are you talking to decision-makers and influencers in the right way, with the right message? So many businesses get their approach wrong, because they don’t understand the real challenges that department heads and technical specialists face at the moment.

With the new challenges and priorities businesses are under, the benefits of refreshing what you know about your B2B markets have never been clearer. It’s no surprise to us that B2B is one of our fastest growing research practices.

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