The number of university attendees in the UK has risen in the last few years, and if there is one component which all Universities build into their curriculum, especially into their Masters level courses, it is the encouragement of critical thinking as a skill-set. Many of these graduates will be the decision makers of the future, i.e. your potential customers.
What will be different in the future?
If we look at B2B purchases they tend to be one of 3 types:
Each of these types of purchases tends to have different levels of risk attached to the buying process.
Straight Rebuy – A company that buys white A4 80gsm copy paper would probably have a process in place for the purchase, the buyer knows the price in the market, understands the batch quantity, and has experience of the vendor.
Modified Rebuy – one or more aspects of the purchase may differ from a straight rebuy – so buying coloured A1 200 gsm paper may cause the buyer to consider shopping around in the market place.
New Buy – Most companies would tend to procure a new photocopier less often than they would buy the copy paper. They have less knowledge of what is available in the marketplace, it is a higher value, and a higher risk value for the buyer.
In order to reduce costs, organisations will seek to automate the straight rebuys and standardise the modified rebuys. On the other side of the equation, if a purchase is a new buy (and with products and services becoming more innovative in order to remain competitive, then the trend will be to move towards either Modified Rebuys or New Buys), then the decision makers will probably move towards a personal default.
The challenge with University educated buyers is that their decision making default for new buys will probably include an element of critical thinking. As sales managers we need to understand the customers mind; not just why they buy, but also the when, where and how.
So when did you last send your sales managers off to University to learn how to understand the buyers of the future?