B2B Buyers And Digital Selling (Part 1): Self-Service, PLG, And Consumption Pricing
Each month, I hear a variety of perspectives as I conduct research and lead guidance sessions with B2B sales executives. In May, I presented at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America and spoke with several CEOs and C-level leaders during the event. A few weeks later, I delivered a keynote address at a client’s global leadership offsite, at which I spoke about B2B buying and digital selling. My schedule also included insightful customer calls and sales tech vendor briefings.
“Tell me something,” I might say in one of these meetings. “How are you and your team really performing right now?” That starts a conversation about executive opportunities, priorities, and risks. Eventually, some common themes emerge. Today, I’m releasing part one of a two-part post on buying and selling themes. This first post focuses on four B2B buying topics: self-service buying, product-led growth, B2B e-commerce, and consumption-based pricing.
For buyers and buying groups, preference for self-service continues to climb. In fact, Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Survey reveals that the number of self-directed buying interactions is greater than the number of human interactions (15 and 12, respectively). And in a recent article, McKinsey & Company shares that 71% of buyers are willing to spend more than $50,000, with 27% willing to spend more than $500,000, in a self-service model. One sees why sales executives are enhancing the buying experience to include self-service options. It’s as if buyers are saying: “Let us make the purchase ourselves, and we’ll let you know when we need you.”
Most sellers make it hard for potential buyers and users to experience their product. Remove access barriers with a product-led growth (PLG) approach. Sure, you’ll need to update the way you track engagement, qualify opportunities, and monetize activity — totally doable, though. With PLG, you’ll attract a greater number of qualified prospects earlier in the pipeline. You’ll also scale faster. That alone makes PLG worth considering. With these digital selling motions, imagine that buyers are telling you: “Let us see your product. Send us the demo as well as free trial or freemium instructions.”
Buyers have instant access to peer feedback, product reviews, and technical specs. They also purchase online! B2B e-commerce reduces a buyer’s external dependencies and shortens their buying cycle (and your sales cycle — hint hint). This month, Forrester published its 2022 B2B E-Commerce Forecast, US report and estimated that, by 2027, US B2B e-commerce will reach $3 trillion and account for 24% of total US B2B sales. What are you doing to claim your share of that growth? Just imagine buyers saying: “Let us buy anytime, anywhere. And … by the way … make the process frictionless.”
As the number and complexity of product choices has risen, buyers have driven down the costs of evaluation, experimentation, and adoption. They have also reduced risks inherent with subscription licenses, implementations, and product shortcomings. Consumption-based pricing solves many of these issues for them. As with PLG, sellers attract more customers with this approach. This type of pricing sure changes quotas, compensation models, and performance metrics, doesn’t it? But buyers will say: “Let us pay for what we use and what we value.”
A B2B buying revolution has begun. So are self-service buying, product-led growth, B2B e-commerce, and consumption-based pricing on a path to eventually converge? Or are these distinct practices shaping the buying experience? My colleagues and I are guiding B2B revenue leaders through this minefield. Connect with us on new research about these buying themes.
And look for my follow-up blog post, B2B Buyers And Digital Selling (Part 2), which focuses on how sales leaders are using buyer enablement and digital buying signals to improve self-service experiences.