The B2B customer journey is a complicated one, but can be easily broken down into 5 primary steps. Think of it as a circular, rather than linear, journey. One where you return home to check your bases, then leave again to create new connections, over and over.
There are several different touchpoints (aka moments of interaction between the buyer and the seller) to be aware of that affect the customer experience. As we’ve already mentioned in our ABX series, strategies which lean towards account-based marketing, and account-based experience, are essential to attracting leads and impressing customers during the B2B customer journey.
Basically, there’s a lot more going on these days between a buyer thinking about a problem they need solving, being exposed to a solution, and then finally making the decision to purchase it. It can be an exciting, dynamic, process if you’re up to scratch on the steps! And if you nail the B2B customer journey in a customised, personalised way – you’ll be able to create a long-lasting impression that encourages ongoing, meaningful, long-term customer relationships. This one’s particularly helpful if you’re going to be leading a campaign, or seeking and nurturing leads and connections on LinkedIn.
So, what are the 5 main steps to a customer journey?
(Note: there are others to consider, depending on the scale and complexity of the business. In the interests of clarity, we’re going to focus on these top 5 main touchpoints in the customer journey for now.)
Stage of B2B buying: awareness, consideration
BMD resource to use:
Buyer Persona template
Amazingly, throughout the whole buying journey, according to Gartner futures research on B2B selling, buyers typically spend only about 17% of their time actually meeting or talking to buyers. A much larger percentage of their time is spent doing their own research, whether that’s talking to other buyers, or doing independent research online. While it could seem frustrating to have such little access to buyers, when addressed correctly, and with meaningful attention, it means you can use your knowledge and information to your advantage. Information is an important currency when there are quick and important decisions to be made in the evolving marketplace.
In a B2B environment, there can be up to about 11 decision makers, on average, with differing needs. And so, it’s important to discern which member of the buying group holds the most influence. It helps to understand their level of influence on buying decisions, and alter your communication. Share the information you have about your market knowledge, and pricing, because if you don’t communicate openly, you risk losing buyer’s interest, trust, and attention.
We’ve got some helpful tips for you to check out on how to be personable in the B2B customer journey in our recently published blog on what is account-based experience (ABX).
What are your customer or buyer needs? What are their major pain points? What are the goals they’re trying to achieve? Which problems are they trying to solve?
Questions like these will help you feel confident in speaking to your buyers in a personable, highly engaging way, so that they’ll be more interested in starting a conversation. As LinkedIn recommends, solve, don’t sell. The new generation of B2B sales is all about providing a solution which is going to directly address a customer’s needs – and even anticipating, and deeply understanding their problems, before they do.
Plus, with 77% of buyers reporting a “challenging” and “time consuming” buying process, there’s an opportunity there for you to simplify it. Step in and problem solve to be seen as a hero in the customer’s eyes. They’ll appreciate it in the long term.
Selling is no longer a linear process, starting with a pitch and ending with a sale.
It’s vital to have a technology-backed address book, CRM, or sales software (we recommend using LinkedIn Campaign Manager), to keep track of your contacts, and communications. You never know where your contacts may end up in the future. Workers have been changing roles at a rapid pace during the Great Reshuffle.
Our top tips for nurturing long-term relationships for improved B2B customer journeys and sales include:
- Update buyer personas regularly: refer to your buyer persona as a quick reference to your contact and important factors including their role within their organisation, their business needs, and their role within decision-making processes, as well as unique facts about them that can nurture meaningful connections. (We have a super helpful Buyer Persona template ready for download.)
- Jump on opportune timing: stay front of mind by keeping in touch regularly with your customers, engaging them with relevant information, providing updates on how things are going, and sending out timely reminders when it comes to renewal time.
To wrap it up, our top 3 tips for creating and ensuring a great customer journey in B2B world are:
Tip #1: Be helpful to your customer and transparent with your information
Tip #2: Work hard to understand your customers’ goals and reach them
Tip #3: Continue the conversation long after the sale for a long-term relationship
For help with improving your B2B customer journey experience, or to learn more about our approach book a 15min discovery session.