A business to business (B2B) buying process is the nonlinear process that B2B buying groups navigate to make purchase decisions. - Gartner definition.
But, aren’t we familiar with the B2B buying process as, a 5-step linear process?
NEED - Be aware of a need/problem
RESEARCH - Consider information, resources, qualified suppliers
DECISION - Decide by evaluating and comparing available solutions and suppliers
BUY - Complete the purchase process
REVIEW - Evaluate (post-purchase) the product or service to provide feedback.
But this is 2021, there is a new process in town. Organisations need to change their sales strategy or be left behind.
Here’s what Sales reps need to know to navigate the B2B buying journey:
>And when they compare multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any sales rep maybe only 5% or 6%.
The buying journey isn’t in a predictable or linear order any longer: In a typical B2B purchase, Customers engage in “looping” i.e., they go back to each of the buying steps at least once. Also, these steps occur more or less simultaneously. So, today’s buying journey resembles a maze more than a linear path. It’s a parallel or simultaneous process and not a serial one, with no hand-offs.
This means sales reps have to change their strategic focus: Sales reps have to manoeuvre through their B2B buying journey for the next 5 years and fast-track toward AI- powered insights. Real INTENT data today provides one of the resource that could be leveraged to gain such insights.
B2B buyers prefer suppliers who provide information for ease in purchase, high-quality sales and buyer enablement: B2B buyers find it difficult to loop around all the different steps of buying, so when suppliers provide good information to enable ease of purchase, the buyers are more likely to value these suppliers. According to Gartner research, customers (who recognised supplier information as helpful to take them forward in the buying process) were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of ease in purchase, and three times more likely to buy a bigger deal and have less regret.
Supplier focus help B2B customers complete critical buying jobs, also known as ‘buyer enablement’ by providing precisely-designed information: Buyer enablement simplifies the purchase process for buyers and empowers the sellers for value delivery.
Buyer enablement content is identified by the following design principles:
Relevant information to the buyers’ challenges.
Easy and effective information for the buyer to use.
Useful information for buyers to complete the buying process.
Credible information that is backed by data and facts.
Shareable information for the buyers to share in their groups easily.
Provides confidence to buyers to enable them to take the content forward in their groups.
Aligns customers’ emotional needs so that they identify with the solution for their specific need.
Leads back to the unique differentiators so that the customers are convinced of this solution.
Now let’s look at the same buying process from a Customer’s Perspective:
As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy. The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling, it is actually our customers’ struggle to buy - Brent Adamson (Distinguished VP, Advisory, Gartner)
With the looping of buying steps, in-person and digital discovery of solutions, and other activities, a buyer’s process is finalised when the following six B2B buying “jobs” are deemed purchase complete (from Gartner research):
To be competitive in this new complex maze of buying world, seller organisations must have complete synchronisation between their marketing / sales / product development / delivery teams. The value proposition to potential customers must be seamless across the board including all their digital presence, their playbooks, their sales pitch, and their solution. The messaging must be clearly addressing the key problem statement of the buyer, the options for the solution, the pros and cons of each option and the recommendation. Information should be customised to provide clarity at each sales stage and to different stakeholders of the buyer’s organisation. The one size fits all approach will not work anymore. The era of wine and dine selling is over, it is now time for focused solution selling agents who can engage with buyers at all levels and provide relevant messaging for each of them.