Understanding Your Buyer’s Journey in 2021, Part 2

YOUR BUYER’S JOURNEY HAS CHANGED
Are you prepared to navigate the new buying process?

Today’s online buyer seeks a social media savvy relationship-builder who can help them make great decisions. This means that the seller’s journey has also changed to keep pace with that of the buyer.

This is a two-part series. In Part 1 we explored how the buyer’s journey has evolved into its current model. In this Part 2 we’ll identify some current and emerging best practices B2B and B2C sellers should consider adopting.

What We Learned in Part 1 of Understanding Your Buyer’s Journey. The buyer’s journey is a somewhat predictable path a B2B and B2C buyer follows when seeking a solution to a problem or to grow his or her business, just like you see represented in the graphic. The buyer discovers a problem that must be solved or an opportunity to pursue and sets out researching solutions to the problem and opportunity. Once a clear “route to solution” emerges, the buyer then researches potential solutions in order to build his or her search criteria that will be used to evaluate solution providers. Sellers are only invited into the process once the buyer has developed a short list of providers who meet his or her criteria. As a result, the seller becomes largely reactive, waiting to be contacted by the buyer.

Buyer’s Journey Facts and Statistics That Help Us Understand the New Reality

  • More than 70% of the buyer’s journey is completed by the buyer before ever reaching out to a solutions provider (source: Foleon 2020).
  • More than half (57%) of B2B purchase decisions are already made before submitting the request for pricing or proposal. (Source: Zfort Group).
  • Sixty-one percent of B2B buyers said they rely on peers, current users, and review websites when evaluating a technology purchase. (Source: Demand Gen Report).
  • Only 17% of the cumulative time a buyer puts into making a purchase will be spent meeting with potential suppliers (source: Gartner).
  • 93% of B2B buyers search online before buying a product and the same percentage of B2B buyers prefer to complete their purchases online once they’ve decided to buy (source: Frost & Sullivan).
  • Today’s B2B buying groups are more diverse than ever before. When surveyed, 75% of B2B buyers agreed or strongly agreed that their purchases involved people from a wide variety of roles, teams, and locations. (Source: Gartner)

Considerations for Sales Professionals and Solutions Providers. As much as it may seem like sellers are left to focus only on the “last mile” of the sale, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are number of strategies to consider in order to become more proactive and engaging with potential buyers:

  • Pre-Awareness Stage Ideas:
    • Create buyer personas in order to use analytics to help you identify potential prospects in databases such as LinkedIn. Buyer personas are made up of a set of characteristics that define known buyers of the solutions you sell. By defining the characteristics in a string of keywords, you can use services like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Salesforce to deliver prospects who meet your criteria as they appear on LinkedIn.
    • Are you anticipating “life of solution” and contract renewal dates and proactively reaching out to prospects in order to engage then before they consider going on a buyer’s journey of their own?
  • Buyer Awareness Stage Ideas:
    • Have you created a company website that is focused on easily identifying the problems that your solutions solve? Have you used the right keywords that someone searching for information on the problems they’re experiencing? Will visitors see information about that problems, its symptoms, causes, and their potential to negatively impact buyers?
    • Have you built a personal social presence where you’ve posted content on the problems buyers are research in their awareness stage? Rich media posts that speak to common problems your solutions solve tend to draw more views than plan text.
  • Buyer Research Stage Ideas:
    • Have you positioned yourself as a solutions provider who offers easily understood solutions to the problems you solve and opportunities your solutions offer?
    • Are you being easily found using SEO to ensure that buyers looking for problem information find you?
    • Do you clearly position the competitive advantages of your solutions? And the value of each competitive advantage versus what your competitor offers?
    • Are you posting new content in the different formats buyers want to view? Gone are the days where buyers have the interest and time to read every word of a white paper. Video has replaced text in many cases. Few people have the patience to endure videos longer than five minutes. This all requires you to distill your message to its most compelling essence.
  • Buyer Decisioning Stage Ideas:
    • How quickly do you respond when buyers reach out to you? Let’s say a buyer reaches out to three vendors. Usually the first responder stakes the strongest claim to the opportunity by demonstrating how responsive he or she is.
    • How easy have you made it for buyers to get through to the right person who can answer their questions? When a buyer must navigate more than two or three voice prompts to engage the right person, they’ll give up and dial the next provider. Ditto if they have to remain in a queue for more than 30 seconds. And chat bots can be the most frustrating of all when trying to get answers, especially when the buyer’s problem – or the solution – is complex.
    • Once connecting with the buyer, do you seek to build a relationship with each, or do you provide only a transactional response? People still buy from people they like and trust, which requires the building of a relationship.
    • What extra insight, personalization, and value do you bring to the buyer? Sellers that offer unique insights that add value to the buyer separate themselves from the pack and gain an advantage over other potential suppliers.
  • Pre-Awareness Stage Ideas:
    • Create buyer personas in order to use analytics to help you identify potential prospects in databased such as LinkedIn. Buyer personas are made up of a set of characteristics that define known buyers of the solutions you sell. By defining the characteristics in a string of keywords, you can use services like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Salesforce to deliver prospects who meet your criteria as they appear on LinkedIn.
    • Are you anticipating “life of solution” and contract renewal dates and proactively reaching out to prospects in order to engage then before they consider going on a buyer’s journey of their own?

The preceding was created from principles and research taught in Module 16 (The Buyer’s Journey) of Boyer Management Group’s B2B Sales Essentials™ program, named a Top Sales Training Program.

About me: I work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. I also help job seekers, higher ed, and employment services connect people to better jobs faster. My company’s acclaimed career development tools help people navigate the ever-changing landscape of conducting a successful job search. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.

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