A notable example is Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, which aims to improve the country’s living environment by strengthening the connections between people, business and government through technology. It’s the first time a government has tried to implement a project like this on a national scale, and I for one expect to see similar schemes pop up elsewhere in the near future.
Shift of Power from Seller to Buyer
One of the main goals of Smart Nation is to establish Singapore as one of the world’s leading start-up hubs, and it certainly looks like it’s working: there are now over 55,000 start-ups compared to just 24,000 in 2005. In order to survive, all these nascent companies need to make sure they are constantly optimising their sales capability but – unfortunately for them – today is very much a buyer’s market. The well-documented explosion in data driven by the internet means that people have a lot more information at their fingertips and consequently do a lot more research before committing to a purchase – especially a big-ticket one. Quite simply, buyers know a lot more now, not just about your product or service, but also your competitors.
Re-dressing the Balance
So how do you win in this environment where the balance of power has shifted from seller to buyer? It’s really not as difficult as you might think. Smart businesses, with savvy Sales and Marketing teams, know that in order to win business, they need to know as much about their potential customers as they know about you.
How do you expect to have any sales success when you don’t know the company you are trying to sell to? The challenge is identifying all the issues around an organisation – both macro and micro – and piecing them together to form a holistic overview.
Once you have all this information on a prospect, as well as its wider sector, then is the time to engage. After all, success today means approaching the right customer at the right time with the right product – and now just as much in B2B as B2C. It’s a tough market out there and you really have to know how to explain the value of what you are selling in terms of specific outcomes for the customer. And how can you possibly do this if you don’t understand their business and industry inside out?
This is exactly what big data tools can help you do: they give you real insight into a company’s behaviours – such as whether it is hiring, experiencing legal issues or launching new products – in addition to the more traditional attributes like location, number of employees and revenue. Platforms that allow you to carry out a “Conceptual Search” take you one step further, using powerful technology to capture, understand and connect companies and executive contacts to relevant topics. For example, you can search by concepts such as “green energy” or “data security” to uncover companies that are involved in the conversation around these issues.
This is particularly important for organisations in Asia Pacific: according to a Forrester Consulting and SAP Hybris study, on average 61% of B2B buyers in China, Australia, India and Japan are making more work-related purchases on the internet¹. This online boom has created an incredibly crowded B2B marketplace, and with the start-up community flourishing under the Smart Nation initiative, it is only set to become even busier.
The companies that will win in this environment are those that are able to close the gap between themselves and their prospect customers and restore the equilibrium in the relationship between buyer and seller. You have to be a smart company to keep up with the pace of business in a Smart Nation, so make sure you have the smartest tools.
Customers I’m meeting across Asia Pacific are getting real results by shifting the big data tug of war to their advantage. So can you. Now is the time to shake up the 2016 of old and make the commitment to win with big data, so that you can robustly support your sales and marketing strategies in 2017 and beyond.
By Lon Shing, Regional Director for Asia, Avention OneSource Solutions
¹Forrester Consulting and SAP Hybris study: “B2B Buyers in China Require a B2C-Style Experience as Buying Behaviors Change”, 30 November 2015