B2B companies struggling with complex buying journeys and partner networks

A new study by Accenture shows that B2B companies seem to struggling to deliver the kind of personalised customer experiences that drive loyalty and growth due to the growing complexity of customer buying journeys.

The global professional services company surveyed 1,350 sales, service and marketing executives from organisations around the world, and found that 21% thought that they had have “total control over their organisation’s sales networks and overall customer experience”.

According to the survey, most customers are on average 57% through the buying process before they have their first interaction with a company representative. 90% of customers refuse to respond to cold calling, with 61% of all B2B transactions starting online.

71% of the B2B executives believe that customers want experiences that increasingly match B2C experiences. B2C experiences are based around fast response times, consistency across channels and 24/7 availability. Of the survey respondents, 49% think that they are currently failing to deliver the experiences that their customers want them to.  

“B2B leaders know that customer experience is the gateway to growth and have increasingly relied on channel partners to help them deliver. But many have been flying blind. Distracted by building extensive partner networks to increase selling opportunities, they’ve missed the critical balance of picking and managing partners who can leverage customer insight and use it to deliver better experiences,” said Robert Wollan, senior managing director and global Advanced Customer Strategy lead at Accenture Strategy.

“To regain control, B2B leaders will orchestrate their sales ecosystem by seeing partners as an extension of their business and empower them with customer insights, coaching and support. Only then can they fully tap their connected growth potential.”

Disconnected channel partner networks

Compounding the problems that many B2B companies are experiencing with increasingly complex buying journeys are indirect sales channels.

97% of the B2B executives say that indirect sales channels are important to their business for finding partners, increasing investment and increasing expectations. However, 84% do not currently have visibility into sales partner opportunity pipelines.   

“B2B companies recognize that channel partner disconnect is hindering their growth potential,” said Jason Angelos, managing director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy.

“Companies with integrated partner lead generation and coaching are 63 percent more likely to exceed their indirect channel revenue goals. It’s not surprising that the majority of organizations are planning significant investments in enhancing digital channels to improve ecosystem engagement over the next two years.”

So, what is the solution? Accenture has three points it believes B2B brands should consider:

Ecosystem orchestration

Companies should from partner management to ecosystem orchestration – where indirect partners are considered as extensions of your business and therefore as “critical enablers of customer value”. Making sure that a select network of partners is well supported will improve customer experience across the system.  

Supporting partners

Delivering the best customer experiences requires connected insights, which means effective feedback mechanisms and data sharing amongst partners.  

Connected growth

Investing in technology like customer data management, analytics and social listening and integrating them with core customer experience capabilities is needed to effectively measure performance. 

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