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September 21, 2016

5 Compelling Opportunities for VR in the B2B Sales Cycle

Virtual reality (VR) is making inroads in the Enterprise.

Yet most B2B marketers are unclear why and how to add VR to their marketing mix.

As a smart marketer, you can’t simply rely on the novelty of a VR experience to drive demand or warrant a marketing investment. And adding VR content just to check a box for “interactive content” could be a big waste of time and money.

Every marketing investment must have a quantifiable return. And there must be a compelling reason for buyers to experience your brand in VR.

Therefore you must look for opportunities that leverage VR to better engage with customers and differentiate your offer as a solid starting point.

Considering the typical lengthy B2B customer lifecycle, there are at least five such opportunities that quickly come to mind.

Using VR in B2B Sales Cycles1.  VR for B2B Brand Storytelling

Using VR for brand storytelling elevates the experience. VR can effectively tap into the neuroscience of how humans – and B2B buyers – make sense of information, evoking a stronger, more emotional connection with your product or brand. In this way, the medium supports the message.

As New York Times Best Selling Author Harrison Monarth shares, “data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”

The purpose of brand storytelling is ultimately to incite action on the part of the buyer. And it works. For example, GE is embracing VR storytelling, simply citing that "the more we can show rather than tell, the better we do.”

2.  VR for B2B  Events

Events continue to be a significant chunk of B2B marketing budgets. In person events accounted for $26.1 billion of B2B marketers’ spend with trade show and exhibition spending projected to rise 6.3% in 2016.

Today, VR is an effective means to generate interest and engagement during your events. Even in the most traditional of markets, bringing a VR experience to your booth can attract a crowd and deliver prospect engagement that drives revenue.

VR can also change the economics of events – for both vendors and attendees – by allowing more people to participate in events. Want a front row seat at Dreamforce? It could virtually happen soon.

Plus you can expect that B2B marketers will create 360° video conference experiences, also using them internally to engage employees. And soon holographic presentations at events may change the keynote speaker roster by minimizing the barriers of time and travel.

3.  VR for B2B Product Demonstrations

During the evaluation phase of the buying journey, product demos are a common sales tool.

B2B buyers, especially those of high dollar investments, large capital goods, or innovative solutions, want the assurance of a “try before buy” experience.

It makes sense, but can be costly. Ever had to justify travel expenses for a customer visit to demo? You’d better be able to show BANT and forecast confidence.

Now consider how VR can enable realistic, virtual demos and tours – without the travel or shipping expenses. Using VR as part of your lead nurturing, can help deliver 20% lift in sales opps.

4.  VR for B2B Ecommerce

B2B ecommerce is projected to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020, according to analysts Frost & Sullivan.

Practical eCommerce research shows that “good looking product data on an ecommerce site builds trust in the company and its product offering, so that shoppers are willing to buy.” Thus adding VR to your product content – to show not tell buyers its benefits – can better help satisfy a buyers’ evaluation and improve online sales.

And B2B is not far behind B2C, where the ‘Retail Everywhere’ era is coming quickly and where virtual reality is the new sales experience.

5.  VR for B2B Loyalty

In the post-sale stage, VR can offer great value in the pivotal customer onboarding phase. Imagine being able to virtually assist a client during implementation, being able to come alongside them and add practical advice as they use your product.

Or consider how to use VR as a compelling reason for your customer to keep coming back to your brand. VR could bring to life expansive solutions or showcase knowledge that increases your buyers’ ROI.

Now is the time to uncover the right fit for VR in your go-to-market plans.

These five B2B marketing and sales uses are really the tip of the iceberg. VR has the power to accelerate sales by creating “the perfect coincidence of wants” as Forrester VP J.P. Gownder remind us. Focus on where the medium improves customer engagement and unlock the power of VR in accelerating your B2B sales cycle.

B2B Marketers Guide - AR and VR Glossary of Terms




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