Understanding The Buyer’s Journey to Achieve Greater B2B Sales Success – Part 3

Mark Donnigan

Buyer Empowerment is Key

“Instead of deploying information to enable sellers to sell more easily‚ apply those same skills – combined with empathy and a deep industry and customer knowledge – to develop and deploy information to help buyers buy.”
-Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at Gartner
 

Let me ask you, have you ever tried to complete a task with insufficient information at hand? That’s what your buyers are doing when they are in the process of doing the tasks in the buyer’s journey. When you provide them with relevant information by making it widely available through your sales reps and digital channels, you are helping them complete these time-consuming tasks as efficiently as possible. Given enough information, your buyers will feel more confident that they are making the right choice. 

Knowledge is power and empowered buyers feel happier with their purchases and the buying experience. Satisfied buyers are also more likely to endorse you, something that is becoming increasingly valuable in the age of dark social where buyers are congregating online and looking increasingly to the guidance and input of their peers. 

Dark social is a new phenomenon where vendors are positively mentioned or referenced in online forums or via untrackable activities to members of the buying committee. Yes, word of mouth is as powerful as ever.

But how do you empower buyers? There are two types of information that you can provide –  prescriptive advice and practical support. 

Prescriptive advice tells the buyer “what to do” or “what not to do” as it relates to the buying process. Practical support includes tools that the buyer can use to follow your prescriptive advice and perform a specific job in the buyer’s journey. 

For example, you can empower the buyer by providing a page on your website where they can compare different products (“supplier selection” job) and download the comparison chart as a document that they can present to the rest of the stakeholders (“consensus creation” job). 

There are a lot of things you can do. The main goal is to deploy information that will help complete each buyer’s task, making it easier for them to buy without requiring engagement from a salesperson. This isn’t about cutting out the sales rep, instead, we are empowering the buyer, which by definition is what every salesperson wants – to make the sale easier to close. And with easier access to the information our customer needs, the sale can be closed more quickly and with fewer objections to overcome.

Conclusion

The buying process today is different from decades before as it has become a complex and time-consuming process. Continuing with the ‘tried and tested’ methods of the prior era no longer works. For organizations that adapt, the buyer’s journey is an excellent opportunity to reach customers and establish an early partnership.

Key Points to Remember

    1. The buyer’s journey is a complex process that involves problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, supplier selection, validation, and consensus creation. These tasks or jobs happen simultaneously and oftentimes repeatedly before a buyer can make a final purchase decision.
    2. There is an increased number of stakeholders involved in the purchase process, all of which you have to satisfy in order to build a consensus. Thus, buying committee management is one of the most critical jobs for sales teams to get correct.
    3. Buyers are expending a lot of effort during the buyer’s journey. Your aim is to make this easier by providing relevant information that can complete each buyer task faster. Sales leaders must be involved in the creation and dissemination of information materials to ensure alignment of sales practices with customer needs.
    4. Information is a powerful tool. Buyers today are channel-agnostic – they do not care where they get their information as long as they get it. However, there is an increasing trend among buyers to use digital resources, so make sure that you invest in strengthening your digital channels. Be mindful of key communities and forums where buyers gather as these can be excellent sources for dark social interactions.
    5. Empower your buyers by giving them prescriptive advice and providing them with tools that can automate or make each of the buyer’s tasks easier. If there is a common set of evaluation steps or criteria needing to be followed, consider how you can provide a framework for reducing testing time or easing the process.

Hiring an effective head of marketing or CMO is a critical activity to get right. This video pulls snippets from a recent podcast interview where I shared the 5 traits that every startup founder or CEO can use to help identify high-performing CMOs.

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