There are 6 stages in the B2B buying process. Depending on the type of product and the level of need for that product, moving through the various stages can happen quickly with the possibility of even skipping one or two stages or it can take a considerable amount of time with customers wavering between stages.
The first stage of the B2B buying process is when a customer realizes there is a problem. They become aware of a business need. For example, this could be as simple as a small business experiencing growth, and the Marketing Director recognizing that in order to keep up with demand and continue to grow and generate leads, they need help automating their marketing processes. In this scenario the Director has identified a problem and acknowledges a need to fix it.
Commitment to Change
After recognizing a problem, the next stage of the B2B buying process is when the customer commits to fixing the problem. It’s at this time when the customer starts thinking about the budget necessary to fully address the issue, how making a change to the business process would impact other areas of the organization, and whether the problem can be addressed in stages or all at once.
During this stage, the customer researches the various options to solve the problem. Going back to the example with the Marketing Director, she may be asking herself questions like what type of marketing automation platform would best suit our needs? Is this something that could be managed in house by one of the marketing team members? Is it better to hire an outside agency to manage the transition and oversight? What impact would marketing automation have on our current website and databases?
Commitment to the Solution
After researching the different options a customer will decide on the best solution for their business. This could mean the customer decides on a specific platform like Hubspot or agency like Measured Results Marketing to help them implement the desired marketing automation tasks.
We are closing in on the end of the B2B buying process. At this stage of the game, the customer needs to justify the decision they are making to themselves and any upper management. Referring back to our example, the Marketing Director decided the best option and smoothest transition for implementing a marketing automation process meant hiring an agency. She narrowed it down, but wants to make sure she’s making the right decision. This typically means meeting with a sales rep and asking specific questions about why they should choose your agency to solve their problem. This is when the tough questions can get asked, and you must prove to the customer that choosing your business is the best solution for their problem.
The final stage of the B2B buying process is when the Marketing Director makes a decision and purchases the services and/or product. From this point forward, excellent customer service should be the focus. Happy customers lead to repeat customers and referrals.
If have any questions about the B2B buying process of if you need help improving your marketing automation processes we would be happy to help. If we can be of service, please contact us.
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tags: lead generation, marketing automation, marketing automation tools