While all of us have come to expect a transparent, straightforward and mostly pain-free buying process in the B2C realm (think Amazon, Expedia or Uber), companies in the B2B space still have a ways to go towards providing a similar, streamlined buying experience. And even though business purchases are different – they can be more complex, take longer and involve numerous approvers, influencers, purchasers or users – B2B marketers can still learn a lot from their B2C counterparts. With that in mind, here are four tips we’ve seen work well for accelerating the B2B buying journey:
- Identify your buyers and their process: Every B2B marketer should have a solid understanding of who their typical customer is and the common process required for them to make a purchase. If this is complex with multiple gates and parties, diagram it out so that you have a clear sense of the actions needed to move the buyer to the next step. This may take creating messaging or content dedicated to the motivations of different influencers (e.g. highlighting awards or testimonials), users (e.g. demonstrating ease of use or positive reviews), and purchasers (e.g. conveying cost savings, comparisons or ROI calculations).
- Provide self-service tools: Just as e-commerce sites provide a range of similar products and compare features and prices, you should be helpful and transparent with regard to providing tools that enable buyers to make the right decision for their business. These tools can include comparison matrices that highlight your various offerings, features and price points – even in comparison to your competition if it makes sense; chatbots, which enable your buyers to get their simple questions answered online quickly; or self-service scheduling, which puts your buyers in the driver’s seat for arranging to engage with a representative from your company. Q&A sections for common issues and video tutorials also empower your customers and prospects and save you time and money.
- Don’t overwhelm: If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by a large restaurant menu, you’ll appreciate the need to simplify things for your buyers. In surveying more than 1,000 B2B buyers, Gartner found that while most (89%) found the information they were provided by their vendors to be high quality, an overabundance of information hindered the buying decision and led to them becoming overwhelmed – making them 153% more likely to simply settle for a course of action smaller and less disruptive than originally planned. So, while it’s OK to provide some customizable options and price points for your prospects (think “good, better, best” packages), don’t overwhelm them with too many options, confusing matrices or (worse) requiring a salesperson to explain or clarify all of them. A helpful tip is to limit choices or options to no more than three.
- Enable buyers to make sense of things: The Gartner study also identified two key buyer sentiments that positively influenced the likelihood of a high-quality, low-regret deal: a high confidence in the provided information and low skepticism of the seller. To generate this result, Gartner recommends you steer away from merely providing an abundance of information (and hoping buyers figure it all out) or telling your buyers what to do (e.g. from personal experience or position of authority). It instead recommended guiding buyers to evaluate information more effectively in order to prioritize various sources, quality tradeoffs and reconcile conflicting information. Enabling buyers to make sense of information aids in their learning and allows them to more quickly arrive at their own understanding and conclusion – hopefully purchasing your product. Gartner says 80% of sellers who used this approach closed high-quality, low-regret deals.
While B2B marketers may have the disadvantage of complex products with multiple audiences to satisfy, there are steps you can take to connect, clarify and collaborate with your buyers to make their purchasing journey more like that from the B2C realm: more painless, transparent and problem-free.
How are you approaching the changing demands of today’s B2B customers?
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