The B2B healthcare landscape is constantly evolving. In order to stay ahead of the curve, B2B healthcare marketers need to elevate their marketing efforts while addressing emerging realities that are here to say. These include the continuing rise of the self-serve buyer, the increasing length of the B2B sales cycles, and the ongoing need to support buyer enablement through quality content.
The rise the self-serve buyer in B2B healthcare
Propelled by the pandemic, we now live in a self-serve world that’s more seamless and convenient than ever before. We hardly have to interact with others to get our groceries, shop online, or order take-out from our favorite restaurants. Click a few buttons, and anything can be delivered to your doorstep.
Because of this, it’s no surprise that B2B buyers are becoming increasingly used to having all the information they need to make a major purchasing decision at their disposal. No need to speak with a salesperson. In fact, salespeople rank low on the trusted source list for buyers with Gartner research showing that 43% of B2B customers prefer to not interact with a sales rep at all.
Further Gartner research on B2B buyer behavior shows that stakeholders do 60 to 80% of their research independently. Beyond that, when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers, the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%.
Now, this is not to say that B2B sales people aren’t needed — they certainly are. But the approach that sales needs to take will involve a shift from overt selling to one of partnership and problem solving. In other words, traditional “selling” will put buyers off.
The sales reps who will thrive are the ones who can demonstrate deep industry knowledge while also providing concrete examples of how their solution will address ongoing business needs. According to Linkedin, 88% of B2B buyers only purchase when they see a salesperson as a “trusted advisor”.
The increasing length of B2B sales cycles
From research to finalizing contracts and implementation, introducing a new vendor at any organization takes time. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, 66% of hospital executives said the technology implementation process, from search initiation to sale, usually takes six months or more. That includes 20 percent who said it takes more than a year.
And according to DemandGen’s 2022 B2B buyer behavior research, things won’t be speeding up anytime soon as more than half (55%) of buyers indicated that the length of their B2B purchase cycles increased compared with a year ago, with 20% saying it was a significant increase.
So, why is it taking longer? DemandGen’s annual report pointed to the growing prevalence of buying groups and committees, which include several members across all departments in a business, as the main reason for longer sales cycles. The respondents in their latest report indicated that the average buying group at their company consists of:
- One to three members (41%);
- Four to six members (36%);
- Ten or more (14%); and
- Seven to nine (10%).
These buying groups or committees are tasked with vendor alignment to achieve respective outcomes for their organization, however each member may have differing agendas and reasons for why one vendor might be a better choice over another. Thus, group consensus can be a real challenge.
B2B buyer enablement and the critical role of content
B2B purchases are tough. According to a survey of more than 250 B2B customers, 77% of buyers rated their purchase decision as extremely difficult or complex. As mentioned above, the committees are one part of the buying puzzle. The other is information overload.
There is so much data and information out there, and most businesses have some content, but not all businesses have content that simplifies the purchasing process with practical support and prescriptive advice. According to the Content Marketing Institute, only 28% of marketing spend is currently spent on content. Now, of the amount spent on content, 42% is spent on lead capturing and nurturing, and 20% is spent on buyer enablement.
You may be wondering what buyer enablement content looks like. Here are some examples:
- Checklists of critical requirements.
- Advice for how to align stakeholders.
- Calculators that allow buyers to figure out the scope of their project or problem.
- Diagnostic that provides customers with a useful framework for assessing performance or identifying their options.
- In-depth case studies.
- Implementation guides that allow customers to see the full picture from start to finish
Today, the businesses that make it easier for buyers to navigate the purchasing process will see the most success. Gartner research found that customers who perceived the information they received from suppliers to be helpful in advancing across their buying jobs were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.
As B2B healthcare marketing continues to evolve and adapt to consumer trends, one thing remains consistent: the unwavering power of the right content delivered at the right time.
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to boosting the value of your healthcare content marketing effort, then check out our Content Marketing Toolkit designed specifically for healthcare marketing professionals who are balancing many specialized elements of a full-scale marketing program. Topics covered include:
- How to create a content marketing plan
- How to define your buyer personas
- How to create messaging that resonates
- How to generate powerful content ideas
- How to create killer case studies
- And more