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New research finds that expectations shaped by B2C interactions are rapidly making their way into B2B decision-making. The research comes from Accenture Digital and SAP Hybris, and it also shows the growing importance of digital to B2B sales.

B2B buyers increasingly rely on digital channels to research and make purchases, relying less on offline and traditional sales channels. The research indicates that 70 percent of B2B revenues now come from digital. Even for offline purchases, 98 percent of B2B buyers do at least some online research.

Most importantly, though, the study finds that B2B sellers are not addressing the changing expectations of buyers.

Where are buyers and sellers most at odds? Personalization.

More than half (54 percent) of B2B buyers cited personalized recommendations across interactions when asked which capabilities they’d most like B2B suppliers to offer. And personalization was second only to “price and product transparency” in top factors influencing repurchase.

Mastering B2B Engagement Infographic JPEG 110415

The irony is that B2B sellers recognize the need for personalization — they just haven’t made great strides in getting there.

Why the disconnect?

Half of B2B sellers say the integration of data and technology are major challenges, according to the findings.

But lack of education may be an even greater hurdle.

In our own research on personalization, VB Insight has found that lack of education is one of the greatest challenges. Personalization is a buzzword, to be sure, but also very broad in meaning. Many marketers lack a basic understanding of what is possible and how to get started, even though many personalization capabilities are very accessible today.

The buyer controls more of the buying process today, and the role of the sales rep has been greatly diminished. The research indicates that only 20 percent of B2B buyers purchase mostly from a sales representative today. As a result, personalizing as much of the customer experience as possible is becoming a must-have not just for B2C sellers, but also on the B2B side.

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