When business-to-business (B2B) buyers have a problem – a pain to be cured with the right service or product – they embark on a journey. This B2B buyer journey nearly always follows a path with common milestones or stages. And because these buyer’s journey stages are predictable, selling to B2B prospects can be more efficient and effective IF your sales process aligns with them.
B2B Buyer’s Journey Stages
Although certain budget and decision-making cycles can add complexity to the buyer’s journey, the fundamental stages remain the same: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision:
The “Awareness Stage” of the Buyer Journey
The awareness stage is when the prospective buyer first recognizes their problem or “pain point.” Once that primary spark of awareness ignites, the buyer begins gathering information to better define the scope of their need, as well as possible solution providers and alternatives. Depending on the urgency of the need, budget cycles, and the complexity of the decision-making process, this initial discovery phase might take place months or even years before the buyer moves to the consideration stage.
The “Consideration Stage” of the Buyer Journey
The consideration stage of the B2B buyer’s journey is when the buyer gets more motivated and seeks insightful sales and marketing information. These resources could include print or online collateral, “one-pager” detailers or sell sheets, in-person demos, videos, ROI analyses, and so on. The quality and clarity of this information can tip the scales toward one or more solution providers. If the solution is complex, regulated, or makes a large dent in the budget, the prospective buyer might issue a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP) from selected solution-provider candidates. Whatever the decision-making path, it is in the consideration stage that the buyer analyzes and weighs alternatives.
The “Decision Stage” of the Buyer Journey
Having navigated the awareness and consideration stages, it’s time for the buyer to decide on a solution, negotiate terms, and enter into what could be or become a multi-year professional relationship. It’s important for both buyer and seller to craft an agreement that is mutually beneficial. If either side feels disadvantaged, the partnership may be built on unstable foundations.
The Importance of a B2B Buyer Journey
For the buyer, a methodical buyer journey can make the buying process less stressful and more efficient. It can help ensure a more satisfactory purchase decision, too, with the buyer being confident that all essential factors have been considered.
Understanding the buyer’s journey is equally critical for the seller. It helps the seller respond to the buyer’s challenges, needs, and pain points by providing insightful and influential information at just the right time. Knowing the pace of the buyer’s journey can also help the seller adapt their standard sales process. Savvy sellers don’t force the buyer to slow down or speed up; they merely walk (or run) side by side to make sure key answers and truly responsive solutions are offered in a timely manner.
The Bottom Line:
Understanding the buyer’s journey is crucial to a mutually satisfying professional solution-based partnership. Recognizing buyer journey stages and adapting the sales process to respond in real time can create a significant competitive advantage for the seller. If you want to make the right adjustments to optimize sales performance at every stage, the best place to begin is by taking our Sales Agility Assessment. Based on your results, your local sales leadership consultant can help you transform your sales processes to achieve next-level results. Click here to take the assessment and here to connect with a consultant. Or you can contact us at (844) 874-7253.