We all know what it’s like to be a decision-maker for a purchase. Thus, we all know what it is to progress through a buyer’s journey. Even if we aren’t acutely aware of what a buyer’s journey is, we have all been acquainted with the frustration and anxiety caused by a bad sales experience.
I’m sure you feel the annoyance of being continuously bombarded by ads—somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 per day. We’ve all sat through boring, memorized sales pitches—AND—felt the uncertainty and stress associated with having to make an important purchasing decision.
It’s one thing when we’re talking about the buyer’s journey for a new phone or home appliance. But in B2B, the sales cycle is longer with dozens of additional interactions, and therefore an unenjoyable sales experience is really felt.
In B2B sales—the buyer’s journey is more complex, and more often than not, it feels like salespeople are more concerned with completing a transaction than adding value to the engagement. This creates an unsatisfying experience for decision-makers looking for assistance with managing the needs, concerns, and politics among multiple stakeholders.
These awkward sales experiences do little to motivate buyers or close deals and are often the result of a misaligned buyer’s journey.
Allow me to explain.
Consumers Have Changed
Modern consumers—people like us who research and consume information in blogs and other online materials—don’t have the same purchasing behaviors that our counterparts did a decade ago. The internet has enabled us to inform ourselves and become experts without ever having to engage a salesperson.
This free flow of information has changed the buyer and seller relationship—granting the purchaser all of the authority. As such, we are tired of distractions and ads, generic sales pitches, fake interactions, and needless pressure. These experiences are trite and do more to motivate us to take our business elsewhere than to continue an exchange that isn’t serving our needs.
This disconnect between how prospects buy and how businesses sell is the crux of the problem. Companies often provide sales experiences, particularly in B2B relationships, that don’t address buyer’s needs or acknowledge the considerable power they now hold.
If you want to avoid providing an ineffective and off-putting sales experience in your own business, your sales and marketing strategies need to revolve around the buyer’s journey. This requires a conscious effort.
What is the Buyer’s Journey?
The buyer’s journey is the process prospects go through on the way to making a purchasing decision. It consists of three (3) distinct stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
In each stage, the buyer has different objectives and needs.
Awareness Stage: The prospect is being affected by a problem or opportunity. While they feel its effects, they are unable to define the problem or its impacts fully.
Consideration Stage: The problem is now well-defined and identified. In this phase, the buyer’s efforts revolve around discovering and learning about solutions.
Decision Stage: With a known method or solution to their problem—prospects must determine which vendor, service, or product best fits their needs.
By understanding how your prospects move through the buyer’s journey, your sales and marketing teams can create a proactive and prospect-centric buying experience. The results of which are higher engagement, greater conversions, and more loyalty.
A quick note to clarify. The buyer’s journey is often referred to from a variety of standpoints. Most commonly:
The buyer’s journey refers to the process—from the consumer’s perspective—of how they become aware of a need or challenge, inform themselves, and make decisions.
Your company’s buyer’s journey refers to the process as it relates to your business. That is, how potential customers become aware that you exist, consider how your solutions are of value, and are motivated to purchase.
Your buyer’s experience refers to the interactions, touchpoints, and overall impression a buyer has with your business throughout the buying journey.
Defining Your Buyer’s Journey
Your organization’s buyer’s journey is critical to attracting attention and motivating prospects to buy. How well you tailor your strategies and tactics to address each persona at every stage of the buying process will determine how effective your marketing and sales efforts are.
A more compelling marketing and sales strategy begins with an understanding of your company’s buyer’s journey.
Define your buyer’s journey by answering the following questions for each stage and every buyer persona you target.
Awareness: What Is Their Challenge?
- How do buyers describe their goals and challenges?
- Where do buyers go to find resources and information?
- What channels and resources do they trust?
- What are the risks to buyers if they do nothing about their problem?
- When does the problem become noticeable in their lives?
- What misconceptions typically exist when the buyer first experiences their challenge?
- How do buyers determine how the challenge or goal gets prioritized?
Consideration: What Solutions Exist?
- What types of solutions solve the buyer’s needs?
- How do buyers educate themselves about these possible solutions?
- How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each solution type?
- What motivates buyers to determine which solution is best for them?
Decision: What Options Best Fit?
- What criteria do buyers use to evaluate offerings?
- What features and functions are most important to buyers?
- What concerns do buyers hold about my solution?
- What stakeholders are involved in the buying process? What are their concerns, and what authority do they have?
- How can I demonstrate value to the buyers and decision-makers?
- What are the barriers to entry? Do they need any additional preparations or information?
Leverage Your Buyer’s Journey To Build A Better Sales and Marketing Strategy
Understanding your buyer’s journey and having answers to the above questions enables your marketing and sales team to support and educate buyers proactively. When done effectively, your business will be able to engage prospects earlier in the buying journey, proactively address objections, foster trust, and motivate purchasing decisions.
When your business can get to prospects first and guide them through the entire buying process—you’ll be able to create a significant competitive advantage.
For Marketing: How The Buyer’s Journey Will Help You Generate More Leads And Traffic
When your marketing teams have a comprehensive understanding of your buyer’s journey, they’ll be able to leverage it in a variety of ways to:
- Create awareness stage content that nurtures and engages potential buyers much earlier in the process.
- Build effective campaigns that speak to consideration and decision stages
- Empower sales teams with sales collateral to address prospect objections and motivations
- Create compelling content webs that lead prospects to your site from multiple value points
- Perform better in search rankings
- Engage in inbound marketing (one of the most effective forms of marketing that exist today).
- Create a lead generation website with conversions that identify prospect intent
- Creating content for the entire buyer’s journey provides numerous marketing advantages to generate leads and empower your sales teams.
For Sales: How The Buyer’s Journey Will Help You Close More Deals
With a carefully mapped buyer’s journey—your sales team will be better equipped to create an effective sales process that generates more engagements and closes more deals. They’ll be empowered to:
- Understand where prospects are in the buying journey
- Understand what influences their thought process to tailor approaches
- Avoid alienating buyers by asking for the sale too soon
- Identify high intent and good fit opportunities that are more likely to result in a deal (and focus their time/energy on those)
- Focus on long-term partnerships rather than transactions
- Anticipate objections and proactively speak to value
- Have a deep understanding of the buyer’s challenges and the ability to talk to their pain points
Remember, buyers don’t want to be sold—they want to be educated and informed. Equipping your sales team with the content to shed light on problems and provide solutions will create a shift in their role—transitioning them from “pushy pitcher” to trusted and informed advisor.
When you’ve mapped the buyer’s journey and positioned your sales team as valuable experts—you’ll create a competitive and motivating B2B buying experience.
As mentioned, decision-makers’ and consumers’ behaviors have changed, which has altered the buyer/seller relationship.
Greater engagement and higher close rates are possible when you can craft a compelling prospect-centric buying experience. To do this—you’ll have to focus on nurturing potential buyers through their journey rather than solely on the sale. Identifying and mapping your buyer’s journey is an effective way to gain the customer insights needed to solve problems and provide insights proactively.
That’s it. The foundation for the Buyer’s Journey and what you’ll need to consider to craft a compelling buying experience.
When you’re ready for the next step, you may find these blogs helpful:
Optimize Your Sales & Revenue Ops By Mapping Your Ideal Buyer’s Journey
We’ve designed this resource to help you build the foundations of a streamlined and enjoyable buying process. Shorten sales cycles, empower your sales reps, and wow buyers with a buying experience that makes your competitors jealous!