Mobile devices are becoming more important than ever before, and the evidence is all around us:
- According to the Pew Internet Project, as of January 2014, 58% of Americans owned a smartphone and 42% of Americans owned a tablet computer.
- Mobile devices make up an increasing share of overall Internet traffic – as of January 2014, mobile devices were the source of 55% of total Internet usage in the U.S., and 62% of e-mails are opened on mobile devices.
- More people are using their mobile devices to research purchases at retail stores or to shop online. According to a Google study, 84% of smartphone shoppers use their phones while in a physical store.
- More people are using mobile devices to stay connected with work, even during non-work hours. According to this 2014 Gallup poll, 36% of full-time employees say they frequently check work e-mail after business hours
Mobile is the new revolution of the Internet Age, and the ability of billions of people to have a web-enabled device in their pocket is changing the world in many ways that we have not yet fully begun to comprehend. And yet, even surrounded by all of this evidence of the new realities of the mobile era, many B2B sales people are stuck in the past, with a “pre-mobile” mindset that does not make the most of the opportunities of using mobile devices and mobile strategies for sales.
Too many B2B sales people are still sending wordy e-mails (which no one has time to fully engage with on a mobile device) and bulky document attachments that are better accessed and viewed via desktop. Too many B2B sales people don’t understand how their decision makers are using mobile devices – and how they can tailor their sales process to better meet the “mobile mindset” of today’s B2B buyers.
Here are a few ideas and insights for how B2B sales and marketing people can adapt to the new realities of the mobile marketing era.
Recognize That Your Audience is Using Mobile Devices: Consumers aren’t the only ones who use mobile devices for shopping. Many B2B buyers are also using mobile devices to research purchases. According to an infographic from Panvista Mobile, 59% of B2B purchase decision makers and influencers use smartphones to gather information about B2B products and services, and 65% of executives are “comfortable making a business purchase from a mobile device.” Don’t assume that mobile devices are only for consumer purchases, and that big, serious “business” buyers are only perusing your sales e-mails and marketing messages while sitting at a desktop PC in a big, important office – many of your B2B buyers might be accessing your company site while traveling, at a coffee shop, or sitting on the living room couch at home after putting their kids to bed. B2B buyers are people too, just like consumers – and the same types of consumer behavior that make mobile devices popular is also appearing in the world of B2B sales.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile: Once you recognize the potential of your B2B mobile audience, make sure that your website is ready to welcome these mobile users. If it isn’t already, your website needs to be mobile-optimized, with a simple design that is easy to navigate and looks good on the small screens of a mobile device, big buttons that are easy to tap, and no elaborate design features that make the site take longer to load. When people are browsing from a mobile device, they want to be able to get to your site’s content quickly, with no delays – research shows that 57% of mobile users will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. A big trend in recent years is “responsive design,” where websites are designed to be the same for mobile and desktop users; instead of creating a separate “mobile version” of your site, it might make more sense to create one overall design that is geared toward mobile devices first – since the biggest growth in online activity is coming from mobile users. Unfortunately, lots of B2B companies are not focused on this opportunity – research shows that only 15% of B2B companies said that “improving their mobile website experience” was a major priority.
Deliver Mobile-friendly Content to B2B Buyers: If you’re still sending massive attachments and lengthy white papers to your prospects, you might be missing out on sales. According to the 2013 Pardot State of Demand Generation Report, 70% of B2B buyers want to receive white papers, case studies and eBooks that are less than five pages. People’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and mobile devices help to accelerate this trend. Be concise, present your data, make your case, and keep the conversation moving before you lose your prospect’s attention. Don’t assume that your B2B prospects are going to be sitting down at a desk and reading every word of the fine print of your sales presentation on a big screen; mobile users want to be able to get information in quick, easy to read chunks.
There are big opportunities for B2B marketers who are ready to break out of the “pre-mobile” mindset. The fact is, more and more B2B buyers are looking at the small screens of mobile devices. B2B sales people need to become more proactive, responsive and creative in delivering messages and content that is vividly compelling, informative and easily digestible by mobile users. The same trends that are driving consumers to shop in stores with their smartphones and do product research from their living room couches are also shaping the future of B2B sales. Is your sales process ready for this new reality? Take some time to familiarize yourself with the new tools and trends of the “mobile first” era of B2B sales – and be prepared to capitalize on this fast-growing marketing channel.
About the Author
Mark Henry works at Strategic Sales & Marketing, an industry-founding lead generation firm based in Connecticut. His company helps technology companies and various startups and small-to-mid-size businesses in the B2B sales category generate sales leads and improve their sales processes.