B2B Buyer's Journey: A Comprehensive Guide
Every business is looking for buyers, but just a few companies take the initiative to understand how their potential customers arrive at their decisions. Investing time to understand this process is key to bringing more buyers to your website.
Why does the B2B buyer journey matter? The main reason is that by the time your B2B buyer is ready to make a purchase, they’ve already been marketed to in multiple ways throughout the sales cycle. Selling business to business can be competitive (any sales rep can attest to that), and your competitors are likely already presenting themselves to buyers very early in the decision-making process before they are close to purchasing a product or service. We’re going to delve into how that’s done, but first, let’s define the B2B buyer’s journey and its 3 stages.
What is a B2B buyer journey?
A B2B buyer’s journey is the thought process and steps that a business goes through on the way to making a purchase. It takes them from the first inkling that there is a problem (that a product or service can solve) through the final decision. Generally, buyers go through a few stages of thought and action when they are on the road to making a purchase. To get in the b2b buyer’s shoes, let’s quickly review these stages and see how it works in a real-world scenario.
What are the three stages of the B2B buyer's journey?
The most commonly known version of the B2B buyer journey includes:
1) Awareness stage. I’ve discovered a problem impacting my business.
2) Consideration stage. How do I fix it? What are the options for the particular pain points?
3) Decision-making stage. I know what I want and I’m looking for the best deal, best quality, and most features from a reputable business.
Now we can see how this plays out with a business owner who may be in the market for a CRM solution.
Awareness/discovering problem - My customer base is growing and my sales reps are solid, but I sense that we are losing track of leads and I don’t think we are communicating with customers efficiently.
Consideration phase - Maybe I need to invest in a CRM solution. Wow, there are so many expensive offerings and my business is small. I’m not sure I have the budget for some of the big names. I wonder what’s out there? I’ll do a little research.
Decision-making - Pipedrive and Hubspot have solutions that I like. I’m going to take a look at the features and compare them side by side. There’s a free trial offer that looks good. Sold.
Depending on the type of purchase, the complexity, the pricing, etc. this sales process can take 10 minutes or 10 months. Decisions that require significant research from business buyers create windows of opportunity that you can use to market your business. But how?
The buyer’s journey funnel
If you prefer to visualize the three stages, you can observe this process as a buyer’s journey funnel. The funnel helps clarify why it’s important for your marketing campaigns to touch the top, mid and lower sections of the funnel. If you want buyers to be aware of your solution, the key is to be present before they narrow the choices.
Becoming a useful source in your B2B buyer’s journey
Businesses that understand the buyer’s journey can market to potential buyers during each stage of the sales process. This is especially true for companies utilizing digital marketing strategies in conjunction with their sales strategy to create awareness.
For example, Hubspot (a CRM and marketing automation tool) develops helpful guides to assist buyers as they step through the research process on topics ranging from social media to lean process improvement. Each time they share a valuable marketing resource or educational material (e.g. article, infographic, white paper, customer testimonials, etc.) they’ve created an opportunity to highlight their brand.
Think about how you might use these same tactics, together with a marketing automation tool, to create opportunities throughout the sales cycle. Ask your sales team for insights from their conversations with potential customers. Buyers in the decision stage need help to identify and solve the challenges they are facing, such as scalability, ease of use, required investment, and more.
How do I map out and leverage the B2B buyer’s journey?
Mapping out the B2B buyer’s journey is as simple as imagining the thought process of the end customer during their buying journey. Just as a UX designer may conduct market research and develop multiple buyer personas to ensure that your website is appealing to the right target market, you may want to consider more than one B2B buyer's journey.
Perhaps your buyer is a cost-conscious small business owner or the forward-thinking head of IT. Keep them each in mind as you map out the journey. If you are looking for a mapping template, check out this article. Think of how they would approach each step of the buyer’s journey using the CRM example.
Step 1: Awareness stage - What is the business going through? What would be helpful to them at this stage? What topics might they search for? Develop content focused on these challenges such as “Lead Management Challenges for SMBs.”
Step 2: Consideration stage - What kinds of articles and information would they look for to help narrow the field of available solutions? Be helpful at this stage. Marketing friendly phrases and personalized product demos can take you a long way. It’s ok to showcase your products but be as fair as you can be to create trust. “Choosing the Right CRM Solution.”
Step 3: Decision stage - What factors will they use to make a final choice? Your product features and benefits should be directly tied to their pain points and integrated into your digital marketing strategy, and website - “never lose a lead,” “scalable,” “simple to use.” The opportunities are endless. Make the most of them.
Is the B2B buyer’s Journey the same as the consumer decision journey?
You may wonder if the 3-step buyer’s journey is the only way to view the buying process. In fact, there are multiple models you can use to map out the purchase process of your target B2B audience, including what is known as a consumer decision journey. This process has 5 main steps instead of 3. You can learn more here.
Whichever model you use, the end result is the same - paying attention to the consumer’s path illuminates the opportunities for your company to become present in the buyer’s journey.
Making the B2B buyer’s journey work for your business
If you are ready to incorporate the buyer’s journey in your marketing strategy and campaigns Llama Lead Gen is here to help. Our experienced digital marketing team can help you walk through your own B2B buyer’s journey and help you develop useful content and strategies that help your products and services stay present in all stages of the buying process.
Get started with Llama Lead Gen today