There are 6 stages in the B2B buying process. Every business's buying process is slightly different, with some stages being faster than others. Depending on the type of product and the level of need, buyers may move through various stages quickly. Alternately, some buyers will take a considerable amount of time as customers waver between stages. That said, the number and nature of steps in the B2B buying process are common between all companies.
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, a small business has aggressive growth goals. The Marketing Director recognizes 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. The customer now starts considering:
- What's the budget necessary to fully address the issue,
- How making a change to the business process would impact other areas of the organization
- Whether the problem can be addressed in stages or all at once.
Understanding the questions your prospect will ask at this stage helps you understand how they are moving through the decision process.
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.
Put the Six Steps of the B2B Buying Process to Work at Your Company
Do you want to facilitate your prospects' buying process? Read how Measured Results Marketing can partner with you in marketing and sales alignment.