Understanding the B2B Buying Process
Compared to B2C buying, B2B buying is a more complex process, first and foremost because it involves more than one person. B2B purchases typically involve a team of people making a buying decision for their company, usually of a high-value (and high-dollar) product, service, or solution. In other words, there’s a lot more involved and a lot more at stake.
The Role of Stakeholders in the Buyer’s Journey
It’s also necessary to acknowledge that B2B purchasing decisions carry with them far greater risk and potential loss. Therefore, more care is exercised when it comes to buying anything. In cases where products and services will be used by multiple departments, there will likely be a team of stakeholders to assess the business needs, identify priorities and goals, analyze, and compare the offerings from several different vendors, make recommendations, and come to a decision. Many business purchasing decisions will naturally include IT and finance input and may or may not require the sign-off of a senior-level business leader.
Naturally, there are parallels between the stages of the textbook B2B sales funnel and the different stages business buyers go through before they make a purchase, not to mention the factors that can influence their buying decision.
Stage 1: Need Recognition
The B2B buying process almost always begins with the recognition of a problem or need that must be addressed, usually by purchasing a product or solution. Often, this trigger is the result of encountering a specific pain point that creates a challenge for a team or puts the business at risk.
A lot of these pain points are either common within an industry or easily observable as trends within the industry. Others are internal, the result of organizational changes, challenges, or stressors that impact the performance or efficiency of a team or an entire department.
Stage 2: Solutions Evaluation
Many of the B2B buyers you encounter are much further along in the decision-making process when they engage with you—and only 88% will make a purchase if you’re a trusted source. Additionally, Gartner finds that only 17% of the B2B buyer’s journey actually consists of meeting with a short list of potential vendors. Assessing and comparing the different available solutions makes up the lion’s share of the B2B buying process.
This means you must be a strong presence when buyers are evaluating potential solutions providers to address their pain points. At this stage, your job is to establish why your specific products or services are the best solutions for their needs in very real and practical terms.
Stage 3: Defining Requirements
Once the decision-maker has decided on the solution, they begin to define the requirements for the product or service they need. These include the functionality and features they require, the costs, and the benefits.
It’s impossible to solve for the specific requirements of every company, of course. What you can do is to put forward a strong case for your solutions specifically. Talk about how your products have helped another find success, the degree of that success, and the numbers that prove it, in real terms that your potential buyer can apply to their own business.
Stage 4: Choosing a Solution
Once they’ve fully defined their requirements, buyers will then pull together as much research and information as possible on different solutions and potential vendors.
This process is different for every company. Some B2B buyers will have an informal procedure where they evaluate and compare vendors informally. Larger companies will likely have a long, formal B2B buying process that includes Requests for Proposals, systematic vendor analysis, and vendor references.
The Bottom Line
Navigating the complexities of the B2B decision-making process can be made simpler by having experts help you every step of the way. DemandScience has a number of solutions designed to help businesses be top of mind in their target customer’s buyer’s journeys. Working with quality data and proven, proprietary systems, we have systems to ensure success. Talk to us today and let’s get you connected with those who need what you alone have to offer.
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