What B2B Buyers Want

B2B buyers are evolving their journeys — and moving the cheese along with them.

Brands are cracking the code on what buyers want. ABM, RevOps, intent, AI, PLG, and a whole lot of technology is improving sales productivity and the effectiveness of every marketing dollar. 

Actually, that’s not true. Instead of codes being cracked, B2B buyers are evolving their journeys — and moving the cheese along with them.

A buying team member was recently asked why they did not purchase from a vendor. “The process was brutal,” they said. “It was all about the sale. There was nothing about value for the customer or about the customer. I don’t need this.”

Quest to Stay Aligned With Buying Team Behaviors

Both won and lost customers across various industries have made similar comments over the past 24 months. Buyers are acting differently, delaying contact with vendors and sending specific requests and expectations when they do reach out. 

The concept of a buyer’s journey has been around for decades. In short, it is a detailed map of the content, decisions, actions, intentions and sentiment that a buyer goes through to solve a problem. Mostly that includes making a purchase decision.

Journeys are constantly evolving, and therein lies the rub. For vendor engagement strategies to work they need to stay aligned with buying team behaviors. To achieve that companies need to continually monitor journeys from the “outside in.”

Related Article: Are You Creating the Best B2B Buyer Customer Experience?

Timing Is Changing for B2B Journeys

Journeys consist of hundreds of activities. Some matter more than others. These are called micro-moments which are intent-rich buyer actions when they have a specific need. As buyer behaviors evolve, the when and what of micro-moments change.  

Let’s compare how B2B journeys have changed over the past two years. One big change is in timing. 

Below is a high-level purchase journey showing the frequency of buyer-initiated vendor interactions based on hundreds of B2B buyer interviews conducted. That includes websites, content, events and sales or support teams. The green line represents the 2019/2020 timeframe; the red line represents 2021/2022.

A buyer raises their hand when the line arches up. Prior to that, they engage primarily with digital assets — yours, competitors, and influencers — and tap into their peers. The red line indicates buyers are delaying direct sales engagement until a later stage in the journey.

Let’s go a level deeper to see how timing changed. The red bubble is when a buyer raises their hand to directly engage with vendors. In 2019/2020, buyers raised their hand after researching the problem, tapping into peers, developing a master list of vendors and conducting an initial short-list.

2020 b2b buyer journey

Compare that to today. Hand-raising occurs after the buying team has completed their research into alternatives, vendor product features/fit, reputation, discovered pricing and completed a second short-list.

2022 b2b buyer journey


The Price of Admission

Every vendor is trying to figure out how to be in sync with buyers. According to the buying team lead for a global insurance and financial services firm, “When I go to a website, I want to see screenshots, video demos, use cases, testimonials, and pricing. Vendors who do not put product screenshots on their website are always hard to use.”

When buyers finally do engage, it is often with less than three vendors. Unfortunately, the other vendors often do not know they were even considered, evaluated and eliminated. Since buyers have invested time and resources in understanding a vendor’s capabilities, they expect vendors to have similar knowledge about their company and industry. It’s the price of admission into the deal. 

And that is when things can go awry.

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