The new B2B customer journey: Are we selling or helping people to buy?
The sad fact is that rather than feeling empowered, B2B customers are increasingly overwhelmed and paralysed when it comes to decision making. The purchase process has become more complicated as there is now more data to analyse; a greater number of options at hand that need to be considered; and an ever-growing number of stakeholders to consult.
Into this mix, B2B marketers are bombarding buyers with more and more information in the belief that they are making the sales process easier, when in fact that they are just overloading would-be purchasers. Research into more than 600 B2B buyers shows that an abundance of information results in an 18% decrease in purchase ease.
It’s no wonder that buyers are taking on more of a “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” stance when it comes to dealing with suppliers.
So rather than focusing your efforts on selling to potential clients and customers, shouldn’t you be helping people buy?
Rather than bombarding them with thought pieces, you should be looking at ways you can help your customers get clear about what they need before kicking off the purchase process.
This will not only save wasted time and frustration going over and over the specification, but it will also give you the edge on competitors when defining a solution. It might also enable you to unearth some of the more personal, subjective needs that B2B buyers have, which might not make it into an RFP, but which may be the stumbling block to your firm getting a purchase order.
So, when you’re next reviewing your customer journey, you need to take a more real–world stance. What are the things you can do to really make the process easier and prevent your potential customers from feeling overwhelmed?
Somewhat counter-intuitively this might mean developing tools that help customers define what the real problem is that is driving their purchase; being more prescriptive with customers, narrowing down their options rather than opening them up; or sharing advice about how to manage internal stakeholders when broaching discussion about new tools and services.
It means rather than telling potential customers all about your products and services, it may be more useful for you to look at ways you can most usefully impart your knowledge and expertise about what makes a successful purchase experience.
It’s important to consider, particularly for sales-focused organisations, that your customers may have never tackled a purchase like this before. What they want is your help to buy – with confidence and with the full backing of their organisation. Success for them is complete satisfaction with the decision they made – not just the products or services they have secured.