Business technology (or B2B technology) is one of those ‘dangerous’ blends where one subjective ‘universe’ meets another (Business + Technology). Things can easily get complicated in such cases when attempting to define the value of each other in the relationship. Some will say it is an easy task, because business is a science. I would rather see that there is science in business, but business itself goes beyond any scientific method of precision and predictability. The reason is simple: Humans! (me and you, possibly) – we can, most likely, shift into something subjective even the most objective of things.
In such context, B2B technology is known to be a challenge to expand. Companies offering products within this space will face many challenges: Marketing and awareness resistance a much longer sales & adoption cycle, more complicated evaluation processes and somewhat unfair competition. The humans in businesses will then always make sure that something simple and possibly straight-forward will be as complicated as it can be. Either to value expertise on a given subject, or their position within a company hierarchy/team, who knows? Truth is, when trying to step the business (and more?) forward, we are the ones who ‘step on our own foot’ most of the times.
But Is b2b technology that bad? of course not. The main tradeoff points for the seller in business technology are: a stronger ‘lock-in’ of clients to the product/service and (hopefully) a higher margin on contracts, which in most cases are signed under long-term conditions, making what is already a good deal an even better one. And for the buyer: (usually) a closer relationship with the seller, higher quality products/services, automatic upgrades into a continuous cutting-edge state of operations, and (mostly) a non-personal relationship, something that tends to be good for business in general.
The key in successful b2b technology partnerships is that the buyer generates a competitive advantage for its business by adopting the new technology.
Our ‘golden bananas’ here, however, are ‘mashed’ over the question of ADOPTION. In special, the question of how much does the pricing and budget matter into the decision? To answer this, I ran a quick research into 200 people in my professional contacts network to understand how the adoption process is seen.
What I aimed into detecting was simply which points matter most when making a decision and why do they matter so much? Is it the immediate effect of a bump up into the profit? the time-saving for the team? the long term survivability of the company? a market positioning, game-changing addition to the offer? And on top of that, down to the ‘nitty-gritty’, what is the influence of elements such as budget amount; budget timing; internal hierarchy; on-boarding and the learning curve; the presentation and sales process itself?
RESEARCH RESULTS – B2B Technology Adoption:
B2B Technology Adoption – Final Thoughts:
Budget availability is still a major influencer in the purchasing process. However, by ‘digging’ into the differences of people with influence or no-influence in the purchase, it is clear that the adoption of technology goes through a specific relation to the strategy of each business before any decision is made. It is, in fact, a case-by-case process where the key influencers will be looking at something very specific to push into purchasing or not. It is always good to look into research and try to find patterns, but at the end-of-day, the direct conversation between buyer and seller will reveal the key points for that b2b deal to happen.
In some cases, when the seller assumes, for example, that budget is most significant in the process, if not pitched very well, the lower price offer may sound offensive to the buyer, who might want to show that there is budget for the best solution.
Skipping the obvious connection to a known or unknown need, the challenge of B2B technology expansion will rely heavily on how ‘tight’ the purchasing team on the client side can be and how good of a presentation, plus on-boarding and support, the seller can offer prior to closing the deal. It is very common that people in a long sales cycle will even leave a company in midst of the purchasing process. This is something that in many cases will completely break the deal. The DEMO or TRIAL stage is the key to establishing a ‘proof-of-concept’ that can immediately bring a clear view into the value of the new solution. The industry standard of 14-days, in my experience, will not ‘do the trick’. The sales team must be willing to work with the timing on the buyer side, and be aligned on designing the ‘proof-of-concept’ to serve into a decision process. The ‘champion’ on the buyer side will need to be very ‘well trained’ into the solution if the ‘proof-of-concept’ does not speak for itself. The understanding of value should not be complicated.
But as an IMPORTANT NOTE, before the seller can even start to worry about the elements seen here, reaching the potential client will always be a challenge. The word SPAM would not be so famous if this would be an easy task. Cold calling is not dead but it is a ‘Zombie’, it might ‘eat a few brains’ here and there, but will never be well seen or well received by the buyer. Being creative, conversational, insightful and lively is the very first step to engage a potential client into the evaluation of a new technology.