What is the B2B buyer journey?
The simplest definition of the buyer journey is the path that a buyer takes before deciding to make a purchase. What makes the B2B buying journey so unique is that there usually isn’t one sole decision-maker and the process is much longer.
It often includes multiple stakeholders that all have a say in the purchase decision. Having so many cooks in the kitchen so to speak, can make the buying process long, difficult, and wearisome.
But have no fear! In this article we're going to outline ways to stand out from your competition by helping your buyers along their way.
According to Gartner, 27% of the buyer’s total time during the purchase cycle is now spent online, doing self-service research. To top it off, 70% of the entire journey is handled independently by the buyer and their team before ever talking to a sales rep.
With so much of the buying process done digitally, it’s difficult for sellers to get in front of their customers. In fact, when buyers are considering more than one supplier, they may spend as little as 5% or 6% of their time with each sales rep.
How has social media changed the B2B buying journey?
84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions. A recent social buying study completed by the International Data Corporation (IDC), showed that social media increases the buying confidence of executives by providing access to their professional network.
When it comes down the final purchase, professional networks are the primary information resource preference of buyers.
Companies that are not engaged in social selling are going to be left behind as those that are leveraging the large audience that social media affords to close deals.
It’s not just the content that you post that is influencing buyer decisions, it’s also how you are interacting with your customers. Buyers are increasing turning to review sites like G2 to help them make informed decisions based on what their peers think.
How has technology changed the B2B buying journey?
Google is the number one game changer for the new buying cycle. That’s simply because people have any and all the information that they want at their fingertips.
When we're going to buy something, whether it's consumer products or B2B products, we tend to go to Google. Both to see what’s out there and to see the reviews, too.
The B2B sales cycle is now looking a lot more like the B2C sales cycle because the way that we buy as consumers carries over into our B2B world. What’s even more telling about the current buyer journey is that 60% of B2B buyers are now millennials.
They’ve adapted their B2C buying habits and have applied them to their B2B buying habits. They place a higher value on their own personal researched than the word of salespeople and company websites.
How has content can change the B2B buying journey?
To win in this B2B buying environment, suppliers should focus on providing customers with information that is specifically designed to help them complete their buying jobs. We call this “buyer enablement” — the provisioning of information to customers in a way that enables them to complete critical buying jobs.
Because people are searching for things to educate themselves or research ahead of making purchases, you need to have content on every channel. Doing so increases the likelihood that you're going to engage that buyer early on.
It allows you to develop brand with that buyer and it allows you to develop rapport and credibility with the buyer based on the quality of your content. When you’re sharing content through social media it can help fuel more people to come to your website, help them understand your product offering better, and then ultimately, build your sales funnel.
What is the importance of engaging through multiple channels?
You want to have content out there in as many places as you can. Buyers are all over the place. They're not just going to take one channel to do their research. They're going to look for content in a variety of different areas and you want to make sure that you have content created and optimized for each of those channels.
For example, 89% of LinkedIn members said they conducted research anonymously sometime during the first six months of the buying process. So there, you want to be running demand or awareness types of content. People are not typically going there to buy, they're going there to be educated.
Then there’s Google. If someone has taken the trouble to perform a search, that shows intent. You want to be creating content that showcases that the buyer needs what you’re selling. You want to do your best to have them take a transactional-related action after consuming your content.
Here's a handy info graphic to visualize the stages in the funnel, the buyer intent, and how you should be approaching them with content.
Takeaway: The buyer's journey has changed dramatically in the last few years. In order to stand out, you need to be where your customers are!
Want to learn how to continue the content journey after sales gets involved?
Learn more about Klyck's sales enablement solutions and how we help B2B businesses increase closed deals by over 20% and sales team efficiency by over 70%.