We first need to understand that every customer has a pain or need and that’s the reason he is looking for a product, service or a solution. In a B2B environment, a buyer essentially will go through various online and offline resources to find out which product or service would best suit him. According to Forrester, 74% of buyers do more than half their research online before making an offline purchase, and the Corporate Executive Board reports that 57% of executives reach a decision before they contact sales. Every time a buyer makes a decision to buy or not to buy something it is influenced by hundred different factors which together makes the overall buying process. The product or services, content messaging, visual communication and brand strategy all form a part of the decision making process but the cohesiveness of all these together creates the overall customer experience. And as marketers, we need to serve the most relevant content at the right time and at the right place at every touch point in the journey to make the customer experience a superior one.
We, sometimes are so close to the product or brand that we don’t get to understand what the customer’s pain point is. What Exactly is he looking for? We don’t even think of the buyer’s journey.
Read on to understand how we can map the journey, which is critical in the buying process. We all know that there are mainly 3 stages in the buyer’s journey – Awareness, Consideration and Decision in a typical B2B scenario.
Awareness stage: In the Awareness stage, a buyer is trying to figure out what exactly is his pain or need. At this juncture, he will also try to figure out all those in the market who has a solution or can help him out. According to a study1 , 72% will turn to search engines like Google for information. So the content that you need to develop for your product or service has to be informational as opposed to promotional. It should be awareness level content. Content which resonates with a buyer’s pain. We become so biased towards our products or services that we invariably mention about our products or services in all the collateral that we create. Product specific documents don’t work at the beginning unless you are a Microsoft or Tesla. Although the buyer may know what his problem is but he may not have come to the stage where he is prepared to buy the product or service. At this stage, it makes more sense to research on things that the buyer is looking for. Find out the solutions that a buyer is looking for in the Internet (e.g. Google) and then develop a questionnaire to answer those which precisely aligns to their requirement. I will suggest a step ahead, go create a template for each persona in the buyer’s journey and try to assimilate as much information as possible to develop the right messaging. Mostly, blogs, tip sheets, briefs, guides etc. are very good resources during this stage.
Consideration stage: The 2nd stage is the Consideration stage, where the buyer has identified what his requirement is and is ready to dig a little deeper. At this point the buyer is evaluating all the options. The buyer will again return to do research on the companies that they narrowed down. However, in a typical B2B sales ticket item, there may be a lot of people involved so you may have to clearly articulate messages for different personas. You have to identify who holds the purchasing decision and then create content relevant to each member. But if it’s just one single person then it makes your job much easier. At this stage you will need to create content that highlights the features of your product or services that could essentially help the buyer in making a decision. You may also want to create videos highlighting your solutions, webinars for demos, solution briefs, etc. However, please ensure that the messaging is consistent all through, this will develop the trust for your brand in the buyer’s mind.
Decision stage: The final stage is when the buyer takes the decision to buy the product or service. Although they may have decided on the product or service yet are still deciding on a tool or vendor. This is the stage where you need to create content which should be informational as well as promotional. During this period a buyer will spend significant time in comparing the best fit product from different vendors. Once the buyer makes a decision to buy the product from you their work isn’t over. They will look for implementation guides, manuals, best practice documents, etc. You need to ensure that you have all the documentation in place and is readily available to the buyer (now client). At this stage you need to score over your competitors. Hence you will have to persuade the buyer to buy from you only and this can be done only through proper messaging at the right time via a right platform . At this stage you should provide your customer with case studies, free demos of your product, vendor comparison documents, etc. The more you engage with your buyer the better is the chance to get selected. And if everything goes according to the plan then you will definitely break the deal.
But once you get the customer, go look back and see what worked and what didn’t and come up with a better strategy for your next client.