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Creating a Tech-Enabled B2B Buyer's Journey

What is a Technology-Enabled B2B Buyer's Journey, and why does it matter? Gartner has identified the top technologies that Business-to-Business (B2B) Sales and Marketing leaders can adopt to boost buyer engagement.

The technologies on this list prioritize buyers’ value of real time collaboration, provide them with the help required to influence consensus, and allow them to use digital tools for purchase guidance.

"While our research indicates buyers have a preference for a rep-free purchase experience, they also report that their interactions with sellers are the most valuable parts of the buying process," said Dan Gottlieb, senior director analyst at Gartner.

The Top-Rated Buyer Engagement Solutions

The B2B buyer's willingness to work with sellers via technology presents a compelling opportunity to experiment with new ways to engage digitally. The top technologies that sales and marketing leaders can use to boost buyer engagement include:

AI-Sales Email: Gartner predicts that in the next two years, 30 percent of outbound messages from large organizations will be synthetically generated. Within sales, Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be increasingly used to create emails that utilize CRM data and prompts engineered by sellers in order to build highly tailored messages that align with the buying priorities of multiple buyers.

"Generative AI is on course to change the way sales organizations do business," said Gottlieb. "AI will empower B2B sales teams to easily produce highly relevant content, creating better messaging to engage a higher number of buyers in a deal -- and faster."

Visual Collaboration: Gartner believes these tools provide a shared virtual canvas to tell stories, co-create and annotate content with buyers. These tools help sellers to explore complex solutions with their buyers, demonstrating client understanding through an interactive and visual real-time experience.

Gartner predicts that very soon, visual collaboration applications will be the center of 30 percent of seller and buyer meeting experiences.

Virtual Reality (VR): This technology is a computer-generated 3D environment that surrounds a user and responds to an individual’s actions in a natural way, usually through immersive head-mounted displays.

While considered a luxury in sales settings, VR can facilitate real-time 3D virtual meeting experiences in the Metaverse, offering a digital-first selling experience for buyers to learn about products and engage with their peers.

Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs): This resource offers a consolidated vendor micro-site and project management hub for the buying team, which empowers buyers with a single space to reference vendor assets and information.

DSRs streamline how a small group of targeted buyers interact with the vendor, offering better customer experience. They also support customer retention, turning into a collaborative platform where the seller and customer continue to work together to achieve better lifetime value for the vendor.

By 2025, Gartner predicts that 80 percent of B2B sales interactions between sellers and buyers will occur in digital channels.

Workstream Collaboration: These online services, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, deliver a conversational workspace based on a persistent group chat. Sales leaders can utilize this technology to set up channels dedicated to the buying process, answer questions in real-time and facilitate dialogue with buyers.

Conversation Intelligence: This solution analyzes conversations between buyers and sellers, using AI to deliver relevant insights to improve interaction quality (e.g., suggesting next best action). Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75 percent of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with AI-guided selling solutions.

"Active listening is one of the most fundamental skills in facilitating the buying process. Conversation intelligence helps sellers pick up on trends in buyer rhetoric, giving them additional guidance to use during real-time sales conversations," said Gottlieb.

Visual Configuration:  Over half of buyers say they use vendor-provided digital technologies during the buying process. Visual configuration enables buyers to interact with a visual representation of a physical product. Sellers can walk buying teams through customization in real-time, making this technology useful for solution exploration and requirement building.

Already a table stakes capability in industries such as medical devices and specialty vehicles, organizations that are among the first to adopt visual configuration in their industry can gain a substantial competitive advantage.

Interactive Demonstrations: This capability allow buyers to interact directly with synthetic data in digital products. Sales teams can customize a real-time walk-through experience for a product tour for a personalized experience via their website or a digital sales room.

"By putting buyers in the driver’s seat for solution exploration, requirements building and supplier selection, the likelihood of their engagement and, by extension, purchase power soars," said Gottlieb.

Narrative Automation: These structured discovery and storytelling solutions use AI to conduct relevant research about a company (such as financial metrics) and convert that insight into Value Messaging sales content assets, improving seller confidence in their sales engagements.

Sellers can distribute a strategic business outcome-oriented narrative to more executive decision-makers, improving account coverage and accelerating the collective buyer's journey.

Next Steps: Choosing the Best-Fit Solutions

Gottlieb believes that there is a key caveat when B2B vendors are evaluating the essential enablement technologies to develop and deploy in their sales and marketing organizations.

There is no single one-size-fits-all technology. Leaders must adopt the best-fit technologies suited to meet their customers’ needs, and capitalize on their sales and marketing organization's strengths.

That said, I believe the deployment of any of these technologies must be accompanied by instructive "how-to" training and coaching that advances solution adoption and utilization by the intended users.

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