The Purchase Decision Process in B2B

Companies that know the customer journey of their prospective buyers and accompany them on this journey in the best possible way can significantly increase their sales. In addition, they ensure that customers will buy from them again later. Here you can find out what you should pay attention to during the customer journey.

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Special Features of a B2B Purchase Decision

The buying decision process in B2B sales is very different from the buying decision process in the consumer space. B2B companies offer more complex products that require detailed explanations. The decision on whether to use a product or service thus often drags on for months.

Due to the high value of the order, the purchasing decision is usually made by the management itself, by the head of purchasing or by a group of people, the buying center. The decision is preceded by various preparatory measures such as obtaining information about the product and checking the other suppliers.

The purchase of the B2B product is not made on impulse, but on purely rational considerations: The product should guarantee business success.

Due to the high amount of investment, B2B salespeople need to have a lot of patience, good negotiation skills, and most importantly, the right strategy in the bag. In addition, B2B sales differ from B2C sales in that buyers have extensive technical know-how and can spot faulty information immediately.

Compared to B2C, the B2B industry is even more dominated by personal contacts. Nevertheless, customer expectations are constantly changing and converging with B2C processes.

After all, as private individuals, the responsible B2B buyers have also become accustomed to certain digital standards and handling processes. So why would they want to do without them when it comes to daily business in B2B?

It is therefore important to competently accompany the potential buyer already during the information search at the appropriate touchpoints. Give him the opportunity to inform himself independently and without obligation. In this way, your own expertise can be conveyed in small chunks instead of overwhelming the potential buyer with information during a consultation.

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Digitalization and the Purchase Decision Process

The rapidly advancing digitalization makes life easier and more manageable for many people. Of course, companies also benefit from the digital transformation. They can reach target groups via online marketing and thus simplify and accelerate the sales process with the help of digital technologies.

In addition, they receive valuable information about their potential customers. Used correctly, customer journey management thus improves the entire customer relationship.

Nevertheless, there are areas in B2B sales where the personal involvement of people is required.

You can achieve the best possible sales results by combining technological resources with human resources.

As a B2B company, you're meeting buyers today who are better informed about products than they used to be. They use the Internet and have higher expectations of B2B sellers. Furthermore, the number of possible contact points with a customer increases with each new channel.

To avoid getting lost in the chaos of available channels, a B2B company must be able to accurately understand its customers' buying decision process and actively shape the customer journey.

  • When is the right time for a personal contact?

  • What information should the customer be able to obtain without difficulty from your website?

  • What information is the customer looking for and when?

The answers to these and other questions are summarized in a customer journey map.

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The Phases in the Purchase Decision Process

In this age of digitalization, the only way for a B2B company to stand out from the competition is to offer a customer journey that is tailored to the needs of your customers. How and with what you best address your potential buyers depends on the respective phase in the purchase decision process.

However, your prospective buyers usually have to come in contact with your business six to eight times to make up their mind about you.

The purchase decision process includes the following stages:

  • Attract (interest),

  • Engage (research)

  • and Convert (purchase).

In each of these phases, you have various touchpoints with your customers. The task now is to identify the most important touchpoints and combine them into a coherent customer journey.

Customer Journey

Source: Customer Journey according to Aioma

Attract

In this first phase, the prospective buyer becomes aware that he is faced with a problem. He knows that he needs a certain machine, product or service to increase his operational output.

However, he does not yet know what kind of solution will solve his problem and how exactly it will work. Accordingly, he is not yet interested in specific companies or products, but in general methods and approaches to solving problems.

To learn more, he Googles. He visits informative websites and reads through blog articles, guides, white papers and studies that solve a similar problem.

For your company, this means: You have to be present at this point with informative content in order to be able to pick up the user accordingly. This way, they develop interest in your solution approach and thus indirectly for your offer and your company - without seeming pushy.

Engage

By now, the potential buyer knows what the right solution approach is for his problem. Now it is a matter of finding the right implementation that covers exactly those areas that are important to him and his company.

In contrast to the Attract phase, he is no longer looking for superficial content here, but for detailed information that expands his expertise.

So he Googles further and looks for specific case studies, reviews, studies that cover his list of criteria and show similar approaches, as well as their probability of success.

For your business, this means: Provide content such as studies, videos, webinars, or anything else that demonstrates a specific starting point and a clear path to a solution.

Again, it's not about putting products or your company in the foreground, but the selected solution approach itself.

Convert

Now the time has come. The prospective buyer has already gathered plenty of information about what kind of solution is suitable for him and which open questions still need to be clarified.

To clarify his final questions, he searches for product and company-specific FAQs, pricing models and concrete procedures.

Once he has gathered enough information, he is ready for a first personal contact. He contacts you via an appropriate contact form, e-mail or telephone for a consultation or an initial product demonstration.

For your company this means: Offer the user the possibility to inform himself as independently as possible before the first contact is made. Furthermore, you should offer different options for contacting in order to meet the personal preferences.

Conclusion

A thorough understanding of the customer journey will help you identify the ever-changing needs throughout the customer journey.

By dividing the buying decision process into different phases, it's easier to delineate these needs.

If you know what the prospective buyer needs, it's easy to build the appropriate content and touchpoints. This way, you actively accompany the prospective buyer through the customer journey and offer him exactly the content that meets his current needs in each phase.

In this way, a relationship is established long before the first consultation has taken place and the user knows your company.

He is willing to trust you as an expert and feels that his problems and questions are taken seriously. With the right content in every customer journey phase, they feel in good hands with you and are sure that they can solve their problem with your product and you as a partner.