How likely would it be for your own business to purchase from a supplier you’ve only heard of on the same day? That would be highly unrealistic. Corporate purchases like these usually involve a big budget and can significantly impact your operations. The decision-making involved is not on the same level as an individual choosing between two brands at a grocery store.
Businesses need time to assess several factors before making a decision. For instance, you will have to consider whether it will give your investment the best return. You also need to know whether facts and other data back up the promised solution or benefit. It’s also common to look into the supplier’s accreditation or standing within their industry.
You can expect this if you plan to explore B2B or business-to-business transactions. The B2B customer journey can be long, complex, and unpredictable. You would not want to leave the outcome up to chance. This is why you should familiarize yourself with the customer journey and how you can make it work for your business.
Read on to learn more about the so-called B2B customer journey and get answers to some common questions.
What is the difference between B2B and B2C customers?
With B2C, or business to consumer, customers are usually individuals and their close circles. Their personal preferences and experiences play a significant factor in their purchasing decisions. The marketing for these customer types can take on a more emotional approach.
On the other hand, B2B customers should be handled with logic and data. They want to be convinced that what you have to offer will effectively solve their organization’s problems or provide guaranteed benefits. As mentioned earlier, there will also be multiple stakeholders involved. Thus, even after collecting this data, the decision will have to go through several layers of assessment and approval.
Unlike individual consumers, B2B clients will also require personalized support and communication. You can expect requests for meetings, quotes for pricing, or other detailed information from them before they decide to proceed to the next stage.
What are some examples of B2B customers?
Any organization catering to a large number of people, whether it’s their staff or clients, can make excellent potential B2B clients.
Private companies, especially those requiring specialized equipment or third-party services, will need trusted suppliers on call. For instance, IT businesses are always on the lookout for partnerships with trustworthy software and hardware providers.
Outside of these, government agencies, schools, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations also frequently engage in B2B transactions. But essentially, any time you are transacting with another business, that is already considered B2B.
What are the stages of the B2B customer journey?
For some, the customer journey centers only around the first three stages below. But ideally, it should be a sort of cycle. It would be good to post-purchase support to get the best results for your business. After all, you don’t want your B2B customer journeys to end simply with a one-time deal.
This is why you need to hire the best ux agency that is able to create online experiences that will enthrall and captivate your B2B buyers. You need the wow factor, but you also need to make sure that the functionality, and the ease of interaction and engagement is top notch. B2bB buyers tend to be more aware as compared to B2C customers. Since they know more about the product or service, industry, and the cost factors, you need to treat them with that kind of respect and awareness.
The goal should be to build a strong, lasting relationship with the B2B client. This will ensure they will continue to support your product or service and maybe even promote it to others.
The goal here is to get your business’s name out there. You do not yet need to worry about providing the nitty-gritty of your product or service. You can save that for when you have actually hooked potential clients who are actively looking to purchase. Work on gaining visibility and brand awareness first to stand out or at least become a familiar name in your industry.
At this point, you already have a potential B2B client who wants to secure a supplier for their business. But they will spend this stage assessing their various options. Education is vital to move them to the next stage.
They will need easy access to reliable information about your offerings. You can provide this in the form of brand websites, white papers, case studies, and other detailed materials.
The B2B client is now equipped with the knowledge they need to make a decision. The challenge now is to convince them that your business is the best option. Connect them to sales agents or hold presentations to secure deals.
A recent survey shows that most B2B clients are now quicker to abandon brands if they do not meet their expectations or needs. This is compared to how they were before the pandemic.
Reach out to the client after a transaction has been completed. Continue to be on call for personalized support if necessary. This will allow you to correct or mitigate any issues as soon as possible. You will also benefit from receiving feedback that you can use for improvement.
A happy and satisfied B2B customer will surely return for more. And this can still happen even if there were setbacks during their experience. You can still take control of the situation and make a good impression with professional handling of any problems.
But don’t take customer loyalty for granted, as it can be fickle. Provide consistent quality and continue honing every step of the customer journey to prevent this from happening.
Gaining the loyalty of your B2B customers is terrific. But why not take it to the next step and turn them into your brand advocates? If they felt their experience with you was excellent, they can go on to recommend you to other businesses or individuals. Word of mouth and positive feedback from fellow businesses can go a long way in boosting your brand.
Why do you need to map out a B2B customer journey?
As you can see above, there are many stages, and purchase isn’t even the ideal end goal. If you and your team clearly understand the journey, you can take charge and lead your potential clients in the right direction.
Here are a few compelling reasons why mapping out the B2B journey is crucial.
You can develop specific marketing assets for each stage
Since each stage in the customer journey has different goals, it also makes sense that the approach you use will vary. What works to build your brand awareness will not always be effective in converting a potential lead into a paying customer. Take time to analyze what strategies will help you achieve the goal of each stage.
You can align your brand image or message across all stages
One of the best things you can do for your brand is to cultivate a positive image or association among the public and your clients. This won’t work if you send mixed messages or inconsistent branding to them at different stages.
You can monitor which stages need to be strengthened further
Another good thing about mapping out the customer journey is that you can put in place methods to measure success at each stage. Working with an established Google Ads agency can help you target the right demographics at every step. In addition, they can also provide and analyze relevant data to assess what improvements or adjustments need to be made.
My business is very new. Can I still start establishing B2B relationships?
When your business is just starting out, you may think B2B customers are out of your league. Many believe only big companies can establish B2B relationships. But all businesses have to begin somewhere.
If you don’t have the resources to manufacture or stock your product yet, there is a solution to that. Many successful businesses have benefited from starting with Amazon dropshipping in recent years. This is when you partner with a supplier who stocks or produces the product you are selling. They will then ship to your customers directly, so you don’t have to store and handle the products yourself. Listing them on Amazon is also a fantastic boost for budding businesses. You can instantly benefit from the site’s impressive daily traffic.
Now that you know how crucial the B2B customer journey is, take action now. Map it out thoroughly and be there for your leads and customers every step of the way. With patience and persistence, you will reap the benefits of strong, long-term B2B relationships.