How to Navigate the Complex Buyer Journey in B2B

October 31, 2022, Comment off

How to Navigate the Complex Buyer Journey in B2B

The B2B buyer’s journey today is overwhelming, to say the least. In this era of information, they have to go through hundreds of vendors, product options, and the involvement of numerous stakeholders to reach the final purchase decision. 

Besides, with almost 67% of the complex B2B buyer journey happening digitally, buyers expect a B2C-like customer experience. These rapidly changing buying dynamics and complexities make it essential to understand the buying stages in B2B to determine where your target accounts are and create a seamless, B2C-like experience. 

Table of Contents

  • The Complex Buyer Journey in B2B
    • Fewer Opportunities to Influence Customer Decisions
    • Longer Purchase Cycle
    • Non-Linear Buyer Journey
  • Best Ways to Map the Complex B2B Buyer Journey 
    • Zero in on the Buyer’s Intent
    • Identify How Customers Know About You
    • Encourage Sales to Listen

The Complex Buyer Journey in B2B

Over the years, the buyer journey has evolved from being a simple transaction between two parties to unlimited choices and involvement of multiple decision makers. This not only makes the process complex, but marketers have to be prepared for long sales cycles. Here’s how.

1. Fewer Opportunities to Influence Customer Decision

While the traditional buyer’s journey offered maximum control to the sales reps, the modern journey is entirely in the buyer’s hands. They now move through most of their journey – from no awareness to exploring solutions – all on their own, taking control off your hands. 

In fact, research on the B2B buying journey by Gartner reveals that buyers spend only 17% of their time with a potential supplier when considering a purchase. Clearly, this offers you less access to the buyer and even limited opportunities to influence their purchase decision. 

2. Longer Purchase Cycle

When it comes to the complex B2B buyer journey, you’re not selling to a single buyer. Every purchase decision typically involves six to ten decision-makers. At the same time, buyers are exposed to many solutions due to increasing information and technologies. 

Given how stakes could be higher in B2B purchases, buyers move more carefully before making a final decision. As a result, not only do buyers find it difficult to make purchases, but marketing and sales teams are finding it harder to zero in on their target accounts effectively. 

3. Non-Linear Buyer Journey

The B2B buyer journey is anything but linear. You cannot expect it to play out in a predictable, straightforward manner. Instead, they often ‘loop’ around, revisiting one of these buying ‘jobs’ before finalizing the process. The six steps of the B2B buying journey, as per Gartner, are-

  • Problem identification
  • Solution exploration
  • Requirements building
  • Supplier selection
  • Validation
  • Consensus creation

What’s more, most of these jobs do not happen consecutively but simultaneously, making navigating this journey even more challenging. 

Now, without a clear B2B buyer journey mapping, the sales and marketing teams are left scratching their heads in order to plan and launch a successful marketing program. 

Best Ways to Map the Complex B2B Buyer Journey 

The non-linearity and complexity of buying stages of B2B make it essential to map your target account’s journey to the final purchase decision. It involves determining their intent, tracking what led them to you, and taking steps to optimize their journey for higher conversions continuously. 

1. Zero in on the Buyer’s Intent

Several reasons can drive a prospect towards your business and product. To successfully map your customer’s buying journey, you can start by talking to them. Perhaps they are searching for a solution to their problem or looking for a new vendor. 

This way, it will be easier to segment customers according to their intent and target marketing efforts tailored to different buyer journeys.

2. Identify How Customers Know About You

In this digital age, B2B buyers have quick and easy access to a plethora of information. Chances are, their journey started way before they arrived at your business – typically through a simple online search looking for potential solutions. 

What led them to your content? Are they receiving the correct information for the buying stage they are in? Was it successful in encouraging them to move forward in the journey? Since your buyers are handling much of their journey on their own, make it convenient for them to access the right information at the right time. 

Create relevant content across suitable channels that address the buyer’s pain points without the pressure of conversion. This will not only reduce the complexities of a typical buyer’s journey but also allow you to identify where your target accounts exactly are. 

3. Encourage Sales to Listen

Over the years, the role of the sales team has shifted from being an active facilitator in the awareness stage to handling the end of the consideration stage. However, they still make up for the first human interaction the buyer has in their journey. 

Here, it becomes critical to support the buyer’s journey in a way that suits them the best. It is important to listen to what the customer needs. This will make it easier to take out the B2B buyer from the never-ending loop of awareness and consideration stage. Instead of forcing a purchase decision while following up, focus on providing value.  

To Sum Up

The modern buyer’s journey has transformed 360-degree. With the entire control now in the hands of the buyer, you’ll need a more effective strategy, one that shifts your sales approach from product-focused to value-focused. 

But remember, the B2B buyer journey is flexible. Which means you need to constantly adapt using relevant data insights so that you can navigate the complex B2B buyer journey seamlessly.