Six to ten decision-makers are typically involved, each contributing four or five pieces of information to arrive at a complex B2B solution; in addition, new technologies, products, suppliers, and services are expanding the range of buyers’ options and solutions, making it difficult for them to make purchase decisions. A Gartner study of 250 B2B customers found that 77 percent of their purchase experience was complex or challenging. What can marketers do to turn this to their advantage?
The answer is buyer enablement.
What is buyer enablement?
Buyer enablement means providing information to customers that help them make a purchase quickly, easily, and confidently. Suppliers must design this information to make buying more straightforward, a huge advantage for the company and an irresistible attraction for buyers.
According to Gartner research, customers are three times more likely to buy a bigger deal when suppliers provide information perceived as helpful.
Does this mean the information being provided is not meeting this target? Yes. It lags in several aspects, including precise product information, buying processes, explanatory fine print, and building a solid product-to-buyer relationship.
Why is buyer enablement critical?
It seems like a redundant question, but it is not. The simple, point-to-point relationship between manufacturers and purchasers is long gone. Today’s B2B is a complex ecosystem with layers of weigh-in options, benefits, price points, rewards systems, and competitive advantages. It is no longer possible to sell products using traditional methods. But the new selling techniques in a digital world bring their imperatives.
The interface time between suppliers and buyers is at the heart of the new B2B average. Gartner research shows that B2B buyers spend only 17 percent of their time meeting with potential suppliers when considering a purchase. When comparing multiple suppliers, they do not spend more than 5% -6% of their time with sales reps. As a result, sales representatives seldom influence customer decisions.
Therefore, B2B marketers must bring the nitty gritty of the purchasing process closer to customers’ understanding. This information helps the latter better anticipate their concerns and address them in time to confirm their buying patterns. It also eases the burden on sales personnel by making it easier for them to drive customer value. The combined impact boosts buyer enablement.
How to address buying jobs
To make a purchase, customers must complete a set of tasks termed buying jobs. Every buyer undertakes six buying jobs to decide on an investment, and they approach these jobs simultaneously, revisiting each buying job at least once.
The buying jobs are:
- Identifying a problem: This is the initial stage when they identify a problem and feel that they need to do something about it.
- Exploring solutions: After buyers identify a problem, they look for the possibilities that solve the problem. Their research begins here.
- Requirements Building: This is a stage where they try to figure out what exactly they need the purchase to do. When they develop a comprehensive list of their requirements, they shortlist suppliers.
- Supplier selection: After researching solutions and collecting information from various suppliers’ websites, forums, reviews, and other sources and try to figure out whether a solution does what they want it to do? At this stage, they revisit the previous buying jobs.
- Validation: After the second round of review of the previous buying jobs, they make a final evaluation. Have they picked the right supplier who will provide a satisfactory answer to their problem? It is the stage of being doubly sure. Finally, after ticking all the boxes, the buyer is happy about their decision.
- Consensus: Finally this is the stage where they need to get everyone in the buying committee on board.
How suppliers can help
Suppliers can help buyers with several strategic and tactical ways to complete their buying jobs.
The first requirement is speed. They must deploy their buyer enablement strategies well before the buyer begins the hunt for a product and before sales representatives meet buyers. It is called preparing the pitch. The better the pitch, the easier it is to convert a buyer into a confirmed purchaser.
What is an integral component of preparing the pitch? Messaging or content building. It must begin from day one as an organic part of brand-building. Companies or suppliers that wait for buyers to take an interest in them and play catch up are not the leaders; they are followers, and buyers are intelligent enough to spot the difference. A clear communication and content strategy is among the brick-and-mortar of image-building; it cannot be an afterthought or an add-on.
Promoting buyer enablement through content strategy
It never hurts to revisit your content strategy; it is a great way to fix the leaks and enable buyers to complete buying jobs.
All content assets, such as the company website, a white paper, a downloadable eBook or blogs, etc., must promote buyer enablement. Look at it this way: everything a supplier does is for the buyer. The raison de etre of sellers is to have buyers. Why must content and messaging not be a part of this plan?
You must build content to engage all buyers, even those on the fence. It’s called base expansion and is among the critical factors that drive success.
As 70 percent of the buyer’s journey is now digital, their research and evaluations are based on online content, which significantly impacts their purchasing decisions. Therefore, it is critical to understand the mindset of influencers and pitch content to them that satisfies their enquiring approach rather than subjecting them to guesswork.
The seller who helps buyers quickly and confidently reach a purchasing decision and offers the most support to their goals and ambitions will be preferred.