What is the B2B Buyer’s Journey

June 17, 2022, Comment off

What is the B2B Buyer’s Journey

B2B Buyer’s Journey

Introduction

The B2B buying journey has become increasingly opaque for sellers. Gartner research says buyers now opt for a more self-guided and digital approach to purchase decisions. It means that opportunities for marketing and sales teams to interact with buyers and influence B2B purchase decisions are diminishing. B2B marketers and sales teams should seize every chance, direct or indirect, online or offline, to impact the customer journey. To stay ahead in the contest, it is necessary to understand what is the b2b buyer’s journey.

The B2B buyer’s journey

In the conventional sense, the B2B customer buying journey takes place in three broad stages: 

  • Awareness – The potential customer becomes aware of your product or brand through direct or indirect marketing channels.
  • Consideration – The prospect evaluates similar products available in the market.
  • Decision – The prospect decides to buy your product as it is the best fit for their requirements.

It is necessary to map this buyer’s journey to understand the stage at which your buyer currently is. It allows you to take the following steps:

  • Empower your sales and marketing teams with a better understanding of the customer.
  • Create a strategy by predicting the next stage the customer will move to.
  • Identify the customer journey touchpoints that lead to maximum conversions.
  • Improve the speed at which your B2B leads are moving across the sales funnel.

Interestingly, modern B2B marketers need to map the buyer journey even before the product awareness stage. It should start right from the point when the buyer identifies a problem that needs a solution. Also, new-age customers tend to complete a large part of their B2B buying process before the first interaction with the seller’s team. As per Gartner’s research, B2B buyers spend 45% of their time in independent research. The majority of the modern B2B buying experience is online. 

B2B vs B2C Buyer journeys

What adds a layer of complexity to mapping the B2B buyer journey is that the B2B buyer, unlike the B2C one, is not an individual. It is typically a buyer committee of 5 to 15 stakeholders with varying objectives, priorities and perspectives. The sales team needs to determine the size of the buyer group and assess their personas. It needs to understand the buyer needs, roles and the level of influence each of these personas exerts.

Another important distinction is that B2B purchase or deal sizes are much bigger than B2C ones. It means the sales and marketing teams can afford higher budgets and time to execute their strategies. Also, while B2C sales depend on broad-based marketing techniques, B2B sales revolve around targeted messaging and content, creating personalized engagement across buyer groups.

Stages of the B2B Buyer’s Journey

It is helpful to view the B2B buying journey as consisting of multiple specific activity stages. The three broad stages mentioned above can be further broken down as follows:

  1. Identifying a pain point
  2. Building stakeholder buy-in
  3. Comparing solutions
  4. Selecting suppliers
  5. Making a purchase

For the buyers, the B2B buying process has evolved to be a set of tasks at each stage of the journey that can be ongoing in parallel. For example, the buyer can conduct the process of requirement gathering within the organization while simultaneously looking through demos of products available in the market. 

From the seller’s perspective, it is essential to map, track, and align the marketing and sales activities to this non-linear buyer journey. Once the buyer is ready and committed to adopt or move to your solution, your sales team, like a trusted advisor, needs to assist the buyer. They must help the buyer navigate the purchase process and make informed buying decisions.

Place yourself in the seller’s shoes and consider a B2B customer journey example of a buyer looking to build CRM capabilities. Here is how you can create value at each touchpoint along the buyer’s journey stages.

  • Identifying a pain point – Content marketing strategies around buyer problems including online industry surveys and articles about peer companies
  • Building stakeholder buy-in – Newsletters, regular webinars by subject-matter experts, white papers and analyst reports
  •  Comparing solutions – Detailed sales presentation, video demos, case studies and testimonials
  • Selecting suppliers – Formal proposal and an implementation plan, FAQs for resolving queries of the buyer group
  • Making a purchase – Clear and concise contract documents, online tutorials and training documentation

Make the B2b buyer’s journey predictable

As a B2B marketer, you need to have the right strategies in place to make an impact across all B2B customer journey touchpoints. Hence, it is crucial to map the B2B buyer’s journey for different segments of your target accounts. Then, you must make this data available across your sales and marketing teams. In this context, you can reduce the complexities in accurately tracking your buyer journey using a marketing intelligence tool. Advanced algorithms in a tool like this can help determine the buying journey stage of accounts. Furthermore, you can even identify the set of activities to move the accounts quickly through your sales funnel.