The B2B buying process has evolved over the past 10 years to a point where 30 to 50% of the purchase decision is now made before the first sales contact. Your sales team is still the most important factor in the competitive process. However, most buyers will have already done their searches, research, comparisons and initial evaluations before initiating any direct contact with potential suppliers.
B2B Buying Process Framework
Awareness Phase of the B2B Buying Process
The B2B buying process typically begins with the awareness of an emerging business problem or opportunity. Awareness can be driven through internal situations (e.g. recognition of a competitive disadvantage) or discovered through external stimulus (e.g. customer complaint/loss of sale).
Throughout the process, buyers/teams have real time access to relevant websites, blogs, technical documents, user ratings, white papers, ebooks, social media referrals and many other sources of comparative information. Typically, this information is sourced from well-promoted websites and digital marketing content.
Qualification Phase of the B2B Buying Process
As the B2B buying process transitions from the qualification stage to the evaluation stage, more specific information is required: This is usually the point where internal/external sales staff activities begin. Response time, product/solution information, access to experts, sales representative knowledge, after sale support, project management capabilities and other buyer experiences all factor in to decisions made during this phase of the buying process.
After the sale, customer service, training, documentation, project management, real time communications and help desk support become critical requirements for retention and renewal of customer relationships. Throughout the entire B2B buying process, the customer expects a seamless set of digital experiences to achieve and maintain confidence in the supplier’s ability to serve their needs.
Digital sales and marketing platforms that offer cloud-based web content management, business process automation, content marketing and sales enablement support are rapidly becoming an essential requirement to help SMBs meet or exceed customer expectations throughout the buying process. These integrated platforms provide customer’s with a seamless set of digital experiences. Potential customers expect to receive relevant information from initial awareness of a need through final purchasing decision. Any part of the process that is missing dramatically reduces the chances of success.
B2B Digital Sales and Marketing Platform