The Impact and Importance of Brand Adoption by Sales Reps and Managers
You may recall the research I presented a few weeks ago from the market research firm BuyerSphere that states the top two sources of information for executive-level buyers are the web and word of mouth.
This suggests that executive level buyers are turning toward brand influenced engines for the information they desire.
Brand Matters in B2B
We have conducted a survey and it has been found that B2B buyers frequently search by brand name. This influences the ability of your brand to be found and influences your ability to differentiate, showing the impact and importance of brand adoption by sales reps and managers. Take a look at the following trends we have identified:
Buyers will visit your company website
In addition to the 55.8% of respondents who directly visit company websites, 87% search on general search engines and 68% search on targeted industrial sites (e.g. ThomasNet.com). Of note, company websites were ranked #1 or #2 by 61.3% of respondents as having the most relevant search results when searching for industrial products or services.
Buyers use 3 keywords on average when searching
When searching for industrial products, 58.8% of respondents use 3 or more keywords. Similarly, when searching for industrial services, over half (52.7%) of respondents use 3 or more keywords.
Buyers include product specifications in keyword searches
Nearly half (44.2%) of respondents said that they always or frequently include detailed product specifications (e.g. "1/2 in. x 2 in. galvanized carriage bolt") or detailed capabilities specifications (e.g. tolerances or machinery) when searching for what they need. An additional 47.3% said that they sometimes included detailed specifications.
Buyers frequently search by brand name
53.6% of respondents state that they always (4.3%) or frequently (49.3%) include brand names (e.g. "3M" or "Baldor") as part of their search keywords. An additional 43.2% said that they sometimes included brand names.
Buyers include geographic locations in search keywords
A little more than one-third (37.7%) of respondents state that they include a geographic location (e.g. specific state) when searching for industrial products or services. An additional 52.9% say that they sometimes include a geographic location.
Recognizing the Need to Improve Brand Adoption
- Brand equity continues to be very important for businesses. What drives B2B brand equity? Sales rep behavior had the highest impact on B2B brand equity, closely followed by sales rep personality. The sales force impact on business-to-business brand equity is paramount.
- B2B sales reps play a major role in shaping brand perception. Their behavior is among the strongest influences with customers. Two factors driving sales force brand adoption are high expected customer demand and high sales manager brand adoption. B2B sales reps have a greater chance of adopting a new brand if they believe the new positioning will drive higher customer demand or if their sales managers demonstrate a high-level of brand adoption.
Ways to Improve Brand Adoption
- Develop distinct internal and external launch strategies. Create separate launch strategies targeting your clients and prospects (external) and your managers and reps (internal).
- Influence positive attitudes toward new brands among sales managers. Take extra measures to get them bought in. Additionally, provide training and support resources to help them model behavior.
- Create expectations that new brands will drive high customer demand. Increase demand generation activities in early stages of launch to reinforce the perception that the brand is driving higher demand. Explicitly show how brand attributes will translate into more sales.
- Provide training to help sales reps “deliver” the brand with customers. Take the time to ensure your sales reps know what to say to differentiate your message and what to do to differentiate your expected behavior.
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