I see it, I like it, I want it, I get it.
Nope, not the Shirley Ellis song. Just an attempt at imagining a B2B prospect's buying journey in a parallel universe. But, in reality, the B2B buying process isn't that simple.
In fact, it is more complex than ever, with at least 50 buyer touch points, 6 decision-makers, 9 communication channels, and 4 months long sales cycle on average.
And the most surprising part? A great product with great pricing alone won't seal the deal. What ultimately nudges prospects to buy from you is the ease of evaluating if your product is the best fit for them, that is, their buying experience with your brand.
Here, in this article, we discuss 5 tips to improve your buying experience so that your prospects choose you over anyone else in this competitive B2B space.
But first, let's address the most basic question,
What is the ‘Buying Experience?’
The B2B buying experience is how your prospects perceive their buying journey from the moment they identify a need till they decide to purchase from you. It is a sum total of their emotional wants, the information they acquire during the buying process, and all their interactions with your brand.
In order to create the perfect buying experience, you have to first understand what are the common stages of a usual buying process.
What are the 5 Stages of the Buying Process?
The buying process refers to the journey your prospect takes from when they identify their pain points to buying the solution to becoming a repeat customer. The 5 stages of the buying process are:
- Awareness Stage
During this stage, the prospects may or may not be aware of their problem or their pain points. They may or may not be looking to solve the problem. If they are aware of the problem and want to solve it, they turn to others in their industry for answers.
Prospects are more keen to learn about ways to solve a specific pain point rather than a specific solution. They’d want to delve deep into understanding the problem. That means this isn't the right time to brandish your product as a way to rectify their pain point.
Instead, educate them about the how’s and the why’s of solving the problem through materials like blogs, e-books, and industry reports.
- Consideration Stage
Just like the name, the consideration stage is where prospects consider and compare the different solutions available in the market. At this stage, the prospects are well aware of the problem and understand that there are solutions to it. They are looking for a solution that is tailored to ease their specific pain points. But with many options to choose from and more than enough resources supporting each option, they'll most likely succumb to choice overload.
One way to tackle this is to give every bit of information your prospects need to finalize a solution in one place - your website. Demo videos and competitor comparison pages are the main marketing collateral for this buying stage. These materials should educate prospects about your value proposition and convince them why your product is better suited for them.
Hotjar’s competitor comparison pages are a perfect example of this. What makes them stand out is their quirky copywriting and scannable format.
- Decision Stage
Prospects have decided to buy your product as it is best suited to their requirements. But before signing the deal, they want to know if your product really does what it claims.
And the best way to know this is to look for customer testimonials, reviews in software marketplaces, sandbox-like demos, case studies, and pricing pages. While reviews and case studies assure them of your product's credibility, it is a flexible and scalable pricing plan along with sandbox-environment demos that give them the courage to put pen to paper.
Gong’s interactive demo video created using Storylane is an example of a marketing collateral tailored for the decision stage. These self-guided walkthroughs in a sandbox environment let their buyers see Gong in action without signing up for a trial.
- Post-purchase Stage
They are now your customers. Your prospects believed your brand and solution and decided to take a chance with your product. That means they will constantly analyze if your product is giving the results you claimed it will. Usually, a detailed customer onboarding process ensures they are making the best use of your product and getting desired results.
But that's not the end of it. Always ensure your customers are at the top of their game. How-to guides, blogs, interactive demo videos, and feature announcements are some of the marketing collateral you can use to ensure this.
Klenty’s how-to guides are a good example of a useful resource for a prospect in the post-purchase stage.
- Repeat Purchase Stage
The repeat purchase stage is where prospects decide whether they want to renew, upgrade, or, in the worst cases, cancel their subscription. Their decision at this stage is based on their customer experience after they purchase the product. And it isn't just about how good your product is, but about how invested your brand is in their success.
Prompt customer service is the first step to ensure this. Other ways in which you can make your customers feel more heard and included are through customer communities, value-packed newsletters, and pro guides.
Here's what Nicole Saunders, Senior Manager of Communities at Zendesk, says about hosting customer communities:
"Users can support one another and often offer insights based on their real-world experience, which is something that even the best-trained support agent might not be able to do."
Atlassian Community is the best example of how customer communities can bring in a sense of inclusion. The community offers various opportunities for its target audience to get together, learn and use their products best.
5 Best Tips to Improve Your Buyer Experience
Now that you know the different stages of a buyer's journey, let's look at the 5 best ways to create an amazing buying experience for them during each phase.
- Be Ready to Meet your Prospect Where They Want
A B2B buyer uses more than 9 channels during their buyer's journey, reports Mcknisey through their Future of B2B sales: The big reframe 2022. This ranges from age-old channels like phone calls and emails to brand-new ones like live chat support, digital wallets, mobile apps and social media platforms.
While there's no particular order in which they use these channels, during every interaction, they expect one thing - information tailored for them. Personalized and relevant content increases the ease of purchase by 2.8 times, according to Gartner's Buying Journey Report 2022.
This means delivering personalized and consistent information across all channels enhances your prospect's buying experience. To achieve this is to map your prospective buyer’s buying process by considering all these channels.
Using the buyer journey map, figure out the kind of information your prospects seek during different stages of the buying process through different channels and decide on the best-suited format for each channel. The key is to deliver value in the most effective and convenient way, no matter the channel.
- Don't Make Them Wait for Answers
Prospects have questions, and you've answered. But are you fast enough to deliver them before your competitors? If you are unsure about it, perhaps it is time to check the average wait time of your live chat support.
Today, not only do more than 40% of prospects expect live chat support, but they want fast responses as well, according to a study by Freshworks. In fact, another study confirms that 59% of your prospects will likely be your customers if their queries get resolved in under 1 minute.
That means, with the right conversation at the right time, your live chat team can qualify leads for you. They can create a genuine interest in your product which you can cash on by reaching out to prospects immediately.
Now, what if they are your customers? While they still seek immediate responses, around 69% of them want to find it themselves through self-service options rather than rely on customer support executives.
- Make it Easy for Prospects to Make a Decision
There is plenty of fish in the sea, says every B2B buyer. This holds especially true for prospects in the consideration and decision phase.
Since they are on the lookout for the best-suited option, anything ranging from a slow-loading website to a complicated payment option can drive them away.
So what are the must-haves for your landing page to ensure your prospects never bounce to your competitors?
- Clean UI and good load speed
- Live chat support feature
- Competitor comparison pages
- Interactive product tours
- Pricing pages
- Software marketplace reviews
- Customer reviews
Use direct and easy-to-understand language for feature demo videos and competitor comparison pages. Nothing makes your prospects run for your competitors more than a competitor comparison full of jargon.
Similarly, link your customer reviews to software marketplaces to appear more trustworthy. 86% of software buyers visit peer reviews on software marketplaces while making purchasing decisions, according to G2 Buyer Behavior Report 2021.
- Become More than a Salesperson for your Prospects
58% of sales meetings aren't beneficial to prospects, according to a study by the Rain Group. What does this mean?
This means that most salespeople follow a sales approach where they go to lengths about their product without adding any value to the prospect. They are so focused on their end goal, bagging the deal, that they forget what really makes the prospect tick, a genuine conversation.
How can you rectify this?
- Adopt a solution-focused approach. Sell only if they’ve a genuine need.
- Focus on building rapport, knowing their problems, and sharing value.
- Offer solutions other than ‘your product’ when they open up about their pain points.
- Be willing to help, regardless of whether they buy from you.
In other words, become an expert your prospect would turn to instead of a pushy sales rep. Sharing useful information this way with your prospect increases the chances of them signing a high-value deal with more confidence by 3x times, reports Gartner's Buying Journey Report 2022.
- Work in Tandem with Other Teams to Create a Holistic Buyer Experience
Delivering an awesome B2B buyer experience isn't the sole responsibility of a single team. It happens when all the teams involved - sales, product, marketing, and customer success work in tandem towards it.
According to Matt Darrow, CEO of Vivun, a platform for Pre-sales, this isn't the case with most B2B companies these days. Individual teams in B2B companies “care only about their own specific aspects of the buyer experience and end up working at cross purposes," he says in his article for Forbes. This results in a broken buyer experience.
And the only way to rectify this and ensure a positive buyer experience is to work cross-functionally. That means the product team should always communicate updated information about the product to the marketing and sales team. In the same manner, marketing, sales, and customer success teams should share crucial customer interaction data with each other and the product team.
When each team communicates about their goals and shares essential data this way, offering a holistic buying experience is a cakewalk.
Delivering an exceptional buying experience is a game of trial and error. This is because no matter the measures you take, it is the prospect who ultimately decides whether their buying experience with your brand is a positive or a broken one.
One way to deal with this uncertainty is to measure progress regularly through buyer experience surveys and analysis of lost deals. This way, you can bridge the gap between the buying experience they currently experience and the ideal one they expect from you.
What is buyer journey mapping?
Buyer journey mapping is the process of mapping out your prospect's possible motivations, thoughts, and actions when they are looking to buy a product. By mapping out buyer journeys, businesses can empathize with buyers and determine what makes them tick. It also helps optimize the buying process as you'll know what they seek during different phases of the buying process.
What are the different phases of the buying process?
The different phases of the buying process are the following:
- Awareness phase - During this phase, prospects are aware of their pain points but don't know how to solve them.
- Consideration phases - They evaluate the various solutions available in the market to find the best fit for their needs.
- Decision phase - In this stage, prospects are ready to make the buying decision but want to double-check if they are going for the right solution.
- Post-purchase phase - They gauge the efficiency of the product and its potential to give the desired results.
- Repeat purchase phase - In the final phase of the buying process, prospects decide whether to continue, upgrade or cancel the product subscription.