When you’re getting ready to make a purchase – no matter what it is – think about the different stages you go through before swiping your credit card.
Let’s say you need a new washing machine because your current machine is making an odd noise. You do a few Google searches in hopes of finding a way to fix it. You learn that it will be more cost effective to buy a new one. You start browsing for new washing machines online. You take a few days to browse machines and compare features and costs. You decide on the two you like best and go to a store to get input from a sales rep. You read reviews online. You ask your friends which washing machines they have. You discuss the machine you like best with your spouse and agree to make the purchase. You go online or back to the store and order it.
Wow – what a process to buy. A buyer’s journey you might even say!
The buyer’s journey, as defined by HubSpot, is, “The process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.”
Let’s break down those steps in terms of the washing machine scenario:
#1 Awareness Stage: A buyer becomes aware of a problem they have (Washing machine is broken).
#2 Consideration Stage: A buyer then defines the problem and researches ways to solve it (Searching for repairs and researching new washing machines).
#3 Decision Stage: A buyer makes a final choice to solve their problem (Final research, discussion and ultimate purchase of the new washing machine).
But how does this work for B2B buyers, you might ask? The exact same way! In fact, research shows that the buyer’s journey in B2B is becoming more and more like B2C. When we make purchase decisions in the office, it’s much the same way we make them in our home. And the key for you as a business owner, marketing manager or sales associate, is to understand the buyer’s journey for YOUR business.
If you’re not sure what the buyer’s journey is for your customers, there are questions you can ask yourself. (Bonus: Ask your customers for their input!)
1. What challenge or opportunity are your buyers looking to overcome or pursue? How do they come to learn of this challenge or opportunity? How much of a priority would they consider it?
1. What is the clearly defined goal or challenge that your buyers have committed to achieving or solving? What options are they likely evaluating? How do they educate themselves on their different options? What do they perceive as positives and negatives for their different options?
1. Who is involved in making the final purchase decision? What criteria are they using to make their final decision? What are they doing in the final moments before they make their purchase? (Think pro-con list, testimonial/review research, case studies, etc.) This stage is actually the most emotional of all the steps in the buyer’s journey no matter if it is a B2C or B2B purchase.
The Bottom Line
The buyer’s journey MATTERS! It is the key to understanding the headspace your customer is in when they are considering making a purchase from your company, and the process they take to get there. If you understand what they’re thinking, feeling and doing in each stage of their journey, you’ll be able to market (and sell) to them appropriately in each stage. (You can learn more about that here.)
If you have questions about the buyer’s journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to ODEA!