B2B purchasing decisions increasingly trace complex journeys, challenging the long-standing practices of many sales organizations.

The CEO of a major supplier to the telecom industry was frustrated. An initiative to increase sales volumes and shift the company’s product mix to higher-value components was stalling, and not for lack of effort. With support from a marketing campaign that emphasized a slew of new product features, frontline sales managers had stepped up calls to their purchasing contacts at OEM customers. Yet they reported that buyers weren’t buying. Impediments appeared to include tough new requirements from chief purchasing officers, negative chatter on social media about postsales support, and skeptical questions on a product-rating site about an offering’s fully loaded costs.

Welcome to the new dynamics of B2B sales.

Decision-making authority for purchases is slipping away from individuals in familiar roles—often those with whom B2B sales teams have long-standing relationships. Just as the digital revolution has transformed once-predictable consumer purchasing paths into a more circular pattern of touch points, so too business-to-business selling has become less linear as customers research, evaluate, select, and share experiences about products. More people within (and, thanks to digital engagement, even outside) the organization are playing pivotal roles in sizing up offerings, so the path to closing sales has become more complicated.Slideshow

Read all: Do you really understand how your business customers buy? | McKinsey & Company

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