Buyer 3.0 (a.k.a. What Social Tells You About Buyers)

The klaxons are ringing in corporate halls. To use an old praise, someone “moved the cheese”.  Marketing programs are struggling to consistently produce qualified leads that convert; prospect conversations are more challenging; customer co-creation expectations are wreaking havoc on product roadmaps; and customer service has lost control as customers turn to social media and peer-groups for help.   What’s happening?  The adoption of social technologies moved the “cheese” and heralded in the arrival of Buyer 3.0.

The Definition of Buyer 3.0

Buyer 3.0 is a contextual, buyer initiated and driven relationship between the buyer and seller.  Like a four legged stool, Buyer 3.0 relationships are characterized by a consistent experience, value streams, outcome-oriented dialog, and highly relevant content.   Buyer 3.0 principles combine social science with the art of customer enablement and engagement.  You can spot a Buyer 3.0 by their six characteristics:

  • View the buying experience is a precursor of their customer experience.
  • Outcome-driven and expect to receive meaningful value at every step.
  • Thoroughly research potential purchases and alternatives long before contacting sellers.
  • Consider any inconsistencies in their buying “experience” as a warning sign that future expectations will not be met.
  • Use multiple social channels to interact with and expect sellers to be able to follow the conversation across channels.
  • Proactively share their product and seller experiences with their social graph.

Embracing Buyer 3.0

Embracing this new buyer requires organizations to go through a mind-shift in how they approach their prospect and customer relationships.  Contrary to traditional product or company centric organizations; the buyer becomes the central organizing foci of the organization.  This outward alignment to the buyer and their self-directed Buyers’ Journey, forces Marketing and Customer Service/Support to take a leadership role in delivering a consistent buyer experience. Sales, in turn, evolve from a ‘closer’ into an internal advocate for the buyer.  Success is still measured in financial terms but the focus is on the quality of the revenue.  Revenue quality is measured by how well the organization engages buyers, builds enduring relationships, buyer word-of-mouth evangelism, and frequency of repeat sales.

Buyer 3.0 practices include a combination of cultural change, new processes, and technology.

The cultural change comes in the form of new values and forms of “working” opening employees to freely collaborate with customers and the company’s ecosystem.  Collaboration is vital to integrated market constituents into product strategy, planning and measuring company and employee performance along new lines: Value, consistency, accuracy, relevance and buyer engagement, enablement and evangelism. The cultural change comes in accepting that and turning to an advantage the new shape of ‘work’ and new models of leadership.

Technology elements include support for multiple devices including mobile; big data tools to understand buyer expectations that guide contextual interaction strategies across all channels of communication to achieve meaningful conversations; unified CRM/ERP/Customer Service solutions that deliver complete 360 degree views through of buyers that is available to everyone; collaboration platforms and social communities that enable porous company boundaries; co-creation systems integrated with product management systems to integrate customers into rapid innovation processes; and social customer care platforms that identify the interactions that warrant a response and rapidly, successfully address the concern, at scale.

Buyer 3.0 is part of a larger economic transformation that is empowering the edges of organizations through the democratization of information. The technology is the easy part of this transformation; the biggest challenge is the cultural change that is required.  Cultural stumbling blocks come from perceptions that Buyer 3.0 is a marketing owned social media activity and/or a lack of understanding (mostly willingness) by company leaders to align organizations outward to their buyers’ journeys.   Like it or not, everyone has access to virtually all the same information.

Embracing Buyer 3.0 principles and tackling the transformation head-on pays off.  Lower cost of sales, accelerated sales cycles, more predictable sales, and more frequent repeat sales.   Buyer 3.0 is the competitive differentiation for the social economy.

Comments (2)

  1. Linda Holroyd -
    May 3, 2012

    You’ve clearly profiled buyer 3.0, and web 3.0 solutions companies will be the only ones successfully selling to them

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