The B2B buying process revolves and goes through multiple stages and can go over for a more extended period. There are certain purchases that can go over a year or even more.
Unlike the B2C buying process, B2B buying is more of a team-centered process. A group of people evaluates the potential purchase, and in specific cases, top-tier personnel will be the ones to take the last decision. The decisions surrounding B2B buying tend to be more complex and data-dense than B2C buying decisions. Through this post , we'll share our knowledge about the various stages business buyers go through before they eventually make a purchase, as well as the elements that influence their purchasing decision.
Table of contents
- Stages of B2B buying process
- Recognizing the problem
- Assessing and comparing solutions
- Specifying what they’re looking for Next
- Choosing a supplier
- Justifying the decision
- The amount spent on product or service
- The differentiation between products and product complexity
- The strategic importance of the product or buyer
- Product is a first purchase or re-purchase
- B2B customers identify needs to meet their business strategy
- B2B customers are more calculative while B2C is more flexible
- The B2B buying process is longer than B2C
- B2B customers give importance to post-sales
Stages of B2B buying process
Here are important stages of a B2B buying journey that you should know:
1. Recognizing the problem
The B2B buying process begins as soon as you feel a requirement or an issue that can be solved with the help of a product or service from an entity. Problem recognition is often prompted by an external or internal catalyst. The external stimulus can be in any shape or form. It could be an advert, a modern competitor, a sales demo, or some data you acquired from a trade show. On the flip side, any problem within the company or a form of need that emerges via internal operations or by the behavior of employees and managers is a classic example of an internal catalyst.
2. Assessing and comparing solutions
B2B buyers always look for ways to address their problems and needs. Upon identification, a B2B firm must decide if they want to buy the solution from a third party or develop it within the firm. For example, suppose a buyer chooses to buy the solution from a third-party solution. In that case, they typically compare and analyze various product categories to determine which products or services may be the right fit for the company. They weigh the pros and cons of each potential lead. This is a crucial step of the B2B buying process.
3. Specifying what they're looking for Next
the buyer has to have an idea of the requirements of the product they need. You can get there by answering a few questions to get the best clarity. So, how will the customers benefit from this module or service? How much should this product cost, and what can be the profit margins? Also, what are the specific requirements needed for the company?
It's also essential to observe those formal decisions regarding any purchase. You will need a purchasing manager or senior decision-maker to permit the final round of product specifications.
4. Choosing a supplier
Choosing a supplier is the segment where buyers accumulate as much data as necessary on potential suppliers. It is important to take note that every individual B2B buyer chooses their suppliers using a method specific to their company niche. Some go through an informal procedure where they assess and compare different suppliers related to the niche in a less formal outlook, such as:
- Undertaking job proposals from familiar vendors
- Searching for suppliers from trade directories and company records.
- Browsing through websites, trade shows, etc.
- Reaching out to suppliers directly for information regarding their work.
5. Justifying the decision
Once the top-tier panel has arrived at a conclusion, they need to back it up. They ask suppliers for references or get the assistance of head personnel by making a case through a presentation.
Factors that influence B2B buying decision
There are four prime factors that influence B2B buyers as they come down to a purchasing decision. Here are they:
1. Organizational factors
Business goals and trajectories have their share of significance in the process of B2B buying. Oftentimes, the decision-makers are expected to make a strong case as to how the new purchase will benefit the company and help them to achieve their goals and objectives. If a buyer is prepared to sell a quality product, they will definitely need an extraordinary supplier to help them move their products to the market. If they intend to sell cheaper products, they might want to pick a supplier of lower costs. Buyers also need to ensure that the new products they intend to purchase are compatible with their existing business model and technology.
2. Environmental factors
The environmental factors include the current economic condition, competition, and political surrounding of a B2B business.
- The present-day status and well-being of the economy can precept and guide a buyer if they can go ahead with making a purchase or wait until the health of the economy improves. In greater depths, exchange and interest rates keep fluctuating, which can significantly impact the buyer's B2B buying decisions; note that a decline in interest rates leads to a higher rate of purchase.
- Competitive pressures are a vital factor to consider as well, and they can create an extra ounce of pressure surrounding the business purchasing process. Take, for example, if a competitor brings in a new product that has the potential to have a negative impact on another business, the fellow-competitor company might start making changes to facilitate a purchase that can help one-up the competition and help them to stay competitive in the market.
- Political environments have their fair share of influence on B2B purchasing decisions too. To negate corruption issues, government-based organizations have regulated stringent purchasing policies and terms. Those who fail to go along with the regulations will succumb to face penalties which can potentially bring in a bad brand image. These regulations and circumstances pressure companies to change their mode of operations and purchase new products not to face any charges.
3. Individual factors
Individual traits of the people concerned in the selection process have the potential to influence and alter B2B buying decisions. An individual's job designation and experience in the company can have a significant influence. Likewise, reliability and professional objectives can contribute their fair share to the process of buying.
4. Interpersonal factors
Your rapport with your peers and managers is also taken into account. A decision-maker might show less interest in the final decision if they're not really on the same rapport with a colleague in the company. Essentially, members of the decision-making panel should be in agreement with each other. Members of the decision-making panel must maintain transparency and trust each other completely.
The different types of B2B purchase
There are four key factors that impact the nature of the B2B buying process, Here they are:
1.The amount spent on the product or service
The higher the product or service cost, the more will be involved in the B2B buying process. Companies have displayed higher levels of expectations around service and personalization when purchasing pricier products or services. For lower range products, there are lesser chances to diversify. Vendors tend to classify via relationships or by making the purchase comfortable as possible for the buyer.
2.The differentiation between products and product complexity
The more complex a product is, the more time a company needs to dedicate its time towards research or to compare the different product options available in the marketplace. When a product has its share of complexity issues, it will also require a lot of specialists to be involved in the decision-making segment of the product purchasing. Sometimes, these specialists can be foreign to the company, as the working personnel within the company might not be experts in the more complex domain of products.
3.The strategic importance of the product or buyer
Companies will aim to get more senior-level decision-makers involved in the purchasing process for purchases that require some strategy. Being consistent, reliable, etc., are also factors that matter into account when it comes to the B2B buying process.
4. Product is a first purchase or a re-purchase
If a buyer decides to repeat purchase and is leaning more towards staying with the existing vendor, fewer people are more likely to be involved, and a lesser time period will be allocated to dedicate towards the buying process.
Differences between B2B and B2C buying process
B2B customers identify needs to meet their business strategy
The buying journey begins with identifying a need for both B2B and B2C customers. But, B2B customers are seen to be more proactive when it comes to identifying a need and searching for a B2B solution as a part of their business plan. Whereas B2C customers also identify their needs similarly but are motivated by other priorities like marketing and advertising goods that bring attention to new products.
B2B customers are more calculative while B2C is more flexible
Businesses have specific tech specs or features, budget, returns on investment, and certain functionalities to consider before purchasing new products. B2B customers don't buy something without cross-checking multiple factors. As a result, their purchase decisions are more planned and strategic.
On the flipside, B2C customers are more emotionally-driven when it comes to making purchases.
The B2B buying process is longer than B2C
B2B customers make more calculative buying decisions which translate to longer B2B buying processes. This process is oftentimes much more extended than B2C. B2B compares and analyzes over complex elements like, does the product or service fit within the company budget? Are the suppliers reliable enough to trust your company with? Are the functionalities offered worth the investment? These are some questions B2B customers ask themselves.
Whereas B2C customers consider other relatively simple factors, like am I getting a solid deal? Are there better places to get a better deal? What do customer reviews say about alternative products? and more. The decision-making process also involves only a single person for the most. An organized sign-off process occurs with various stakeholders, though.
B2B customers give importance to post-sales service
All customers expect and deserve outstanding customer service, and that includes quality even after sales. B2B customers specifically expect consistent customer service post, pre and during the sale. Ultimately, you want to put it out there that you are always present for your customer's needs at all times. This level of attention to detail will satisfy your customers and build brand loyalty, making it solid that they'll come back for further purchases and refer you to more potential customers.
B2C customers, however, turn to post-sales support only when they're going through a problem or want to make a complaint. How fast you can respond to an issue and help them by resolving it can make or break your brand loyalty. B2B customers don't appreciate being sent additional resources, even if it's necessary, as much as B2B customers do.
It is safe to say that the B2B buying process is a lot more complex than that of the B2C buying process. You have to come to a realization that selling to companies and selling to consumers directly are two different entities. The marketing approach and buying processes differ for both entities.
B2B purchasing decisions are often business-critical and come with a risk of action, which is why B2B buying goes through multiple levels of cross-checking. Several stakeholders' opinions and decisions are taken into consideration.
By understanding the factors that hold weight and influence and implementing them to each stage of the B2B buying process, you'll be put in place to boost your lead generation and overall revenue.