“As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy. The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling; it is our customers’ struggle to buy.” Brent Adamson Distinguished VP, Advisory, Gartner
Customers and Buyers Struggle to Buy!
We do not live in a world where traditional sales techniques work their magic efficiently. Buyers are more informed, conducting up to 70% of their research before needing to speak to a representative. A buyer is so disillusioned by sellers selling features and benefits of products rather than offering real value and insight.
You see that more information is not knowledge; it is just more data; much of the data buyers research is not comparable or easily intelligible. I cannot imagine that many buyers love trolling through websites and data sources to find differences in competitive solutions to a perplexing problem.
Rarely does a Problem have a Clear Cut Solution
With the usual in-house legacy systems, the answers that buyers seek must uncover the best fit solution.
Added to the mix the number of stakeholders involved in making B2B purchase decision has climbers from 5.4 to upwards of 7, coming from varying location, roles and functions the many perspectives of these decision-makers only complicates the purchasing journey further.
The make-up of the decision-making unit and the processes are unique to each customer group; this is more reason to understand each buying group process intimately. You might find the people you have built a relationship in the early stage are not the decision-makers.
Buyers are under enormous pressure. Gartner research finds that when B2B buyers consider a purchase, they spend only 17% of their time meeting with a shortlist of potential suppliers.
What Buyers Want
I recently interviewed Deb Calvert author of Stop Selling and Start Leading., whose research into buyer preferences with leadership experts James M. Kouzes, Barry Z. Posner. led to the conclusion that buyers want sellers to exhibit leadership behaviours.
Buyers do not want more information from sellers; they want clarification and insights, that they cannot find for themselves.
According to Deloitte Digital, in Experience Selling: The Future of B2B Sales, Sellers must focus on personalisation, speed and outcomes if their commercial operation is poised to gain market share.
Buyers go on a journey from awareness of a problem to purchasing a solution. The popular Awareness, Consideration and Decision is a simplified buyers’ journey, defined from the supplier perspective. However, I believe it takes the wrong view; the buyers’ purchase journey is not linear; buyers and stakeholder will naturally bounce between the stages to find the best fit solution.
Let’s Review What I Believe are the 7 Stages of the Buyers Purchasing Journey:
The buyers purchasing journey does not stop at the initial purchase; in fact, the relationship-building journey has only just begun. The seller must look beyond the initial sale, and help their buyers create value and deliver ROI.
Gartner research went further in identifying 6 B2B buying “jobs” that customers must complete along the buying journey, to their satisfaction to successfully finalise a purchase:
There is no dispute that the B2B purchasing process is complex, with much of the process is executed before and without the seller active interaction. According to Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a salesperson. Given the late seller engagement, how can the seller help the buyer advance through the complicated purchase process?
6 Ways Sellers Make Purchasing EASY?
Companies that prioritise customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors according to Kapow. An excellent B2B customer or buyer experience is never built for the company or unit. It is created for a human in the company to experience.
You may be thinking that making B2B purchasing EASY this is no mean feat, I would remind you that we are not reaching for perfection, EASY is not perfection! Alignment is about being dialled into your customer, the closer you are to your customer, the easier it is to, personalise and anticipate their needs.
If the seller is better able to understand the customer challenges, map the journey and tailor their service to the customer’s specific requirements, then they will develop a compelling proposition and make the experience easy.
A supply company that understands the buyer purchase journey in detail can design “ideal” experiences and align the supplier operations and people on delivering high levels of service and so build the breath of relationship and loyalty.
Janice B Gordon helps enterprising companies adapt their sales approach and grow key customers. This has led her to create the popular Scale Your Sales framework. Janice is the Customer Growth Expert an Author, Educator and Consultant ranked 25 of the Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice to talk about Scaling Your Sales.