Back when you were getting your MBA, you likely studied various forms of sales process engineering. Of these, you likely spent a good deal of time studying the “sales funnel.” As more and more users are beginning (and even ending) their purchases online, it has become necessary to understand how the modern consumer is making their purchase decisions. Part-in-parcel to understanding these new purchasing behaviors, then, is to understand the modern B2B buyer’s journey.
A Quick Overview of the B2B Buyer’s Journey
The B2B buyer’s journey refers to the natural progression of data collection a consumer takes before making a purchase. According to HubSpot, there are three stages to this process:
Awareness: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
Consideration: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
Decision: The buyer chooses a solution.
If your B2B business strategy doesn’t take into consideration the buyer’s journey or how to identify your B2B company’s ideal customer profile, then your sales funnel (or sales flywheel) will be ineffective and slow to churn viable leads for your company. When your company adopts the buyer’s journey into its business strategy through the development of encounter-able online content, they will naturally discover your business as an authoritative industry resource.
When you take the B2B buyer’s journey approach to B2B sales, you adopt the mindset of your perfect customer—or, your ideal customer profile—and put yourself in their shoes, devoting content creation efforts to meet their needs. Here’s how that works.
The Key to the Buyer’s Journey is Understanding Who Your Perfect Customer Is
You know your industry better than anyone else. You talk with your customers frequently and have a good idea of what they need and what they are looking for. Identifying your perfect customer is simply a matter of identifying who gains the most value from your products or services. In other words, who is your B2B company’s “perfect” customer? Think of what that person’s ambitions or problems are. What motivates this person to make a purchase? Identifying answers to these questions is key to creating content that aligns with your potential B2B customers' buyer’s journey.
Once you’ve established your ideal customer profile, you’ll also want to build out three-to-five buyer personas. A buyer persona is a “semi-fictional, generalized representation of your customers that account for the demographics, goals, motivators, and challenges they are facing (Hubspot).” Essentially, your buyer personas give you the opportunity to dig deeper into your customers’ needs and wants by describing them in regards to their job titles, daily functions, demographics, education, etc.
Establishing both an ideal customer profile along with buyer personas will ensure that your B2B company is targeting the right organizational accounts (especially for account-based marketing) and that your sales and marketing teams are creating helpful and relevant content that attracts, educates, and delights potential and current customers. Once you have these steps completed, you’re ready to build content.
How to Create Targeted Content that Attracts Your Ideal Customers
After you have a good idea of what your average customer needs and wants are, you’ll want to build content relevant to those needs and wants. When it comes to building out content, consider questions like:
What are common questions customers ask before making a purchase with our company?
What are their concerns and how do they make them feel?
What’s the primary problem they’re trying to solve by purchasing our company’s solutions?
What problems are they looking for solutions to?
You’ll need to get down to the root of why customers choose to purchase from your company. This story is your buyer’s journey.
As your customers travel through the buyer’s journey (awareness, consideration, and decision), you’ll need to provide them with content that includes the knowledge they are searching for in each step of the process.
Awareness:Create content that helps them identify their problem or opportunity.
Consideration: Build content that informs them how to solve that problem or take advantage of their opportunity.
Decision:Build content that depicts your business as the clear and obvious solution that solves their problems or enables them to experience greater success.
To ensure you’re creating relevant content that addresses the needs of each stage of the buyer’s journey, create a strategic content development plan.
The Benefits of Creating the Right Content for the Right Customer
You’ve identified your ideal customer profile, a few buyer personas, and created content to help these people as they grow awareness of their problem/opportunity, consider their options, and make their purchase decision. What happens next? As potential customers travel through this process, Googling and researching, they’re going to naturally encounter your content.
As they do this, two things are occurring:
Your Company is Establishing Authority: When potential customers find your content engaging, useful, and delightful, they inherently see your brand and your business as a trusted resource. When it comes time to make a purchasing decision, they’ll remember your business and consider your products and services more strongly.
You’re Acquiring Marketing-Qualified Leads: A well-designed content offer will provide the opportunity for potential customers to take further actions (aka, a call-to-action or CTA). An example of a CTA is an opportunity to reach out to your business for more information or contact. Because potential customers find your content engaging, useful, and delightful, they’ll willingly give you their personal information and establish themselves as a qualified marketing lead. This gives you the opportunity to email them appropriate content in lieu of where they’re at in the buyer’s journey, also called “lead nurturing.”
As your B2B company grows in industry authority and you gain an increasing amount of marketing qualified leads, you’ll establish the foundation you need to gain more customers and generate more revenue through targeted marketing efforts. Based on the content your potential customers interacted with, you know where potential customers are at in the buyer’s journey, and, as such, you can make your marketing efforts more focused and more effective.
Even after your leads make a purchase, your content offers will continue to bring them back to you, keeping them in your sales funnel (or flywheel) as they travel the buyer’s journey yet again.
The Buyer’s Journey Equips Your B2B Company to Keep Growing
Businesses that aren’t marketing with the buyer’s journey in mind are seeing their stream of qualified leads evaporate and their existing marketing efforts turn ineffective. As you well-know, you have to meet your customers where they’re at. Marketing through content creation based on the B2B buyer’s journey is the single best way of doing that on the web: It’s a way of doing B2B sales that is both helpful and accepted because your company is seen as a partner-in-business rather than as an advertising nuisance.
Unsure of who your ideal customer is or how to build a profile? Need help creating an effective content strategy that equips you to reach the right customers at the right time? Doing all of this can feel overwhelming without the right tools and processes in place. We can help! At Open Path Digital Solutions, we partner with B2B companies to help them generate more leads, increase sales, and grow their companies. As partners for your success, we come alongside you as a trusted guide, providing you with the insight and training you need to align your sales, marketing, and service teams.
To get started, schedule a free call with one of our Growth Strategists! Discover how you can use the buyer’s journey to grow your business.