A Complete Guide on the Different Stages of the B2B Buyers Journey
The concept of a buyer’s journey is not something new. It’s been extensively studied and written about.
As Hubspot quoted “The active research process a buyer goes through resulting in a purchase is referred to as the buyer’s journey.”
Buyers usually begin with a need and then make a purchase that meets or fulfills that need. If you haven’t already done so, you should be paying careful attention to anything that occurs prior to the purchase purpose.
The book Selling To The C-Suite by Nicholas Read and Stephen Bistritz is one of our favorite interpretations of this. The buyer’s journey is described in the book as an eight-step process that occurs in three stages (early, middle, and late). The Buyer’s Journey Has Three Stages
Let us discuss each stage and step, and the actions that go along with them.
Awareness Stage: Early Buyer’s Journey
A buyer’s journey begins with an awareness process, during which buyers seek education, advice, and perspective. Suppliers want to raise awareness and identify themselves as experts. Content should include objective and educational thought leadership articles to accomplish this, but no overt supplier branding should be present. At this point, the aim of supplier content is to begin building in.
Understand Ongoing Challenges
A buyer’s journey begins when stakeholders become aware of and agree on problems that are negatively affecting the company or opportunities that will help it expand. Market factors or internal sources may also cause problems. Executives and department heads are often involved at this point. Stakeholders are likely to disagree on which opportunities or issues should be prioritized.
In this stage, suppliers should approach in the following ways:
- Concentrate on the buyer’s goals and issues, do not sell or market yourself.
- Understand details about the buyer’s identified opportunities and issues.
- Recognize the stakeholders who would make the buying decisions.
- Share relevant information with buyers to help better understand their needs and problems.
- Teach buyers something they didn’t know about your company to help them spot potential opportunities or find challenges they didn’t realize they had.
Establish your Objectives
Buyers are now ready to identify their goals and establish a timeline. Stakeholders are able to consider data that assists them in setting precise goals. This stage will be highly influenced by executives involved in the buying process. Stakeholders attempt to define what is feasible, but they may not be aware of what is feasible. As a result, the buying party will usually opt for a conservative option.
For this stage suppliers should
- Continue concentrating on buyer’s problems seeking for solutions, not on what you want to sell.
- Recognize the goals that consumers are considering, as well as which stakeholders have strong opinions.
- Make an effort to assist consumers in defining what is feasible.
This is where buyers create an action plan to meet the goals they’ve set (who, what, where, when, why). During this stage of the buyer’s journey, success criteria are being defined. Individual stakeholders can have a vested interest in a particular strategy, which may lead to areas of disagreement within the buying community.
- Continue concentrating on buyer’s problems seeking solutions
- Understand why buyers think the choices they’re considering would be successful.
- Start forming opinions on what an effective buyer strategy could be.
- Share relevant third-party data on the options buyers are considering, as well as options you think they might consider.
Consideration Stage: Middle Buyer’s Journey
This middle stage of the buyer’s journey is when buyers attempt to solve a specific issue. Suppliers are attempting to expand their skills and incorporate new technologies. Case studies and comparative analysis can help to accomplish this. At this stage, the intent of the content is to continue educating buyers in ways that align with their needs.
Stakeholders are given the task of conducting research on products and services to present to buyers. If the “set strategy” step focuses on what buyers will do, this step focuses on how they will do it.
Buyers will devise methods for monitoring progress and will begin to plan a budget. Executives and department heads will begin delegating action items, resulting in an increase in the number of stakeholders.
- Confirm your understanding of who is involved in the buying party.
- Find out what each stakeholder wants to happen and how they intend to make it happen.
- Form an opinion on what will (and will not) work to meet the buyer’s objectives.
- Begin by adding data that is unique to your products/services and will benefit the customer.
- Introduce data that demonstrates what other customers have accomplished and how they did it.
Set your Vendor Criteria
Buyers begin to assess what features their preferred product/services must haves. At this point, only buyers start compiling a list of potential suppliers they want to work with. The requirements of the products/services required will be determined by those stakeholders who are closest to the challenge or opportunity. Individual stakeholders with preferred suppliers can try to influence the requirements to fit their preferences.
- Match your data to the requirements of each stakeholder so that purchasers compete for what you can offer as standard criteria.
- If necessary, make comparisons between how you address the buyer’s problem and how your competitors address the problem.
- To persuade stakeholders that an alternative strategy is a safe and rational choice, use case studies and testimonials.
- Do not become complacent in the face of positive comments; instead, keep sending new data to each stakeholder.
- Continue to improve your knowledge of how you may assist buyers.
Decision Stage: The Late Buyer’s stage.
The buying phase of the buyer’s journey occurs when the buyer is ready to make a decision. The goal of suppliers is to convert leads into customers. To accomplish so, extensively branded content forms such as product/service descriptions and application notes might be used. In this stage, the purpose of content is to persuade the buyer that your products/services avail their needs.
This is frequently the stage at which buyers request proposals from vendors. Suppliers who have already contributed useful content will have a better chance of being evaluated.
Because they have already put in so much effort leading up to this point, it is tough to persuade purchasers to slow down and examine alternate possibilities. Suppliers who haven’t made an effort to stand out
Suppliers who have not yet differentiated themselves risk being rated exclusively on the basis of pricing.
- Continue to sway all parties to learn where you are in the buyer’s eyes.
- If you have a high ranking, keep demonstrating your worth until the final selection is decided.
- If you’re at the bottom of the list, figure out why and present compelling evidence to help you climb the ranks.
- Avoid lowering your price, as this will simply lower your perceived value in the eyes of the buyer.
Buyers are now prepared to make a purchase and launch the product or service. Stakeholders that choose one of the options want the negotiation, purchase, payment, and implementation to go well and positively reflect on them. Stakeholders that did not get their preferred option may try to sabotage the process. Executives will be involved once more in order to reach a final decision.
- Work fast to persuade any stakeholders who you believe may block the decision.
- Use data to back up product/service components you’re worried will be cut before the final decision.
- If you lose, be angry with yourself, not with the customer. Take the time to figure out why you lost, keeping in mind the buyer’s point of view.
- If you win, double your efforts to ensure a smooth deployment.
Now the customer wants to know if the purchase is assisting in the resolution of the problem that started their purchasing journey. The success criteria from the “Strategize” step are used to calculate ROI. Executives are heavily involved in calculating ROI, which is generally done through reports from department heads and other stakeholders in the buying group.
- Demonstrate to the buyer that your goods/services are beneficial.
- Determine what information is required to be reported and who among the buyer’s stakeholders requires it.
- Look for various ways to assist your buyer, gathering information from both the buyer and the market.
- Maintain a current list of stakeholder changes (additions, promotions, etc.) and demonstrate that you are assisting them.
- Recognize any failings and try to rectify them in each step.
The most effective method for suppliers to acquire more business is to follow consumers throughout their purchasing process, delivering useful content at each stage and step. The greatest B2B marketers not only try to keep buyers informed throughout their journey, but they also figure out how to give value through content.