With the globalisation and improved access to products and services from around the world, ‘understanding’ your buyer is critical to the success of achieving your company goals.
Understanding who are the real buyers (those who make the purchase decision), their priorities, requirements and objectives and recognising the type of buying situation involved so that businesses can demonstrate how to meet specified criteria or demonstrate and instil confidence for the company offering will help meet business objectives.
How business buyers buy is an incredibly complex question and is a based on a variety of factors that are outlined in below.
Motivations and Drivers of Business Buyers
Within the key motivations and considerations of the drivers of business buyers, there are three key areas that must be understood for success:
- Strategic priorities such as pursuing specific growth opportunities, entering specific industries, geographic markets, acquiring certain customers/customer segments or being a market leader.
- Financial priorities such as achieving specific revenue, profit and/or cost reduction targets.
- Personal priorities such as achieving a promotion, bonuses and/or reputation or position within their industry.
Without aligning your business needs and objectives to these three key drivers of your B2B buyer, reaching a collaboration or mutually beneficial partnership can be a challenge.
Should a company be successful in locking in an alignment, understanding which, if not all, of the key drivers specifically appeal to your buyer, then two organisations can pursue a future partnership together.
Type of Buying Situation/Levels of Risk and Complexity Involved
Changing the type of pen used throughout the organisation has fewer implications for the ERP system or cybersecurity supplier. This is not to say that technology is mightier than the pen, but in this example, the risks & complexity involved in the buying situation are far greater reaching.
For example, if it is a new task buying situation in which the buyer is addressing a problem or need that they have not experienced before, the buyer may not be certain as to what alternatives to consider, the impacts it may have both on the business as well as him/her professionally. As a result, the buyer will likely require a great deal of information and advice.
In this case, the buying decision may be based on case studies, referrals and/or customer references – whereby individuals can speak to other clients in a similar situation who have purchased the solution.
Conversely, if it is a repeat or modified buying situation – there may have specific buying criteria such as costs, product features and/or specifications. Buyers may wish to limit their buying alternatives to a limited set of suppliers and as a result, even leave it to purchase.
How Business Buyers Buy
By nature, we all see things in different ways; some people are visual, and some are cognitive – buyers in the buying process are no different.
The key to success in this interaction is to be prepared before your pitch or presentation and ensure you have everything ready and rehearsed.
Buyers may use a variety of sources to help them with their decisions these include:
- Case studies
- Performance statistics – competitor analysis, the buyer’s current supplier or market leaders is always preferable
- Referrals – a powerful tool in B2B
60% of B2B buyers will consult with a colleague or peer before making a purchase, so it is always an extremely powerful tool to work within your network to maximise your ROI on B2B sales investment.
So, what does this mean for SMEs and start-ups?
When it comes to understanding buyers, it is all about understanding, preparation and strategic alignment.
Once you understand who are the real buyers (who makes the purchase decision), their priorities, requirements and objectives you can align your business, presentation & pitch toward better meeting their objectives.
Understand the type of buying situation you are walking into & demonstrating how your solution can meet their specified criteria goes a long way to establishing understanding and a mutually beneficial partnership.
Understanding that many industries and companies have long-term partnerships and even the best ‘disruptive’ technology that is going to save their company thousands or even millions of dollars needs to be presented logically, taking into consideration the depth of change an organisation may need to undertake to facilitate a new product, service or solution into their supply chain.
Deliver information, advice or support based on what buyers want to look at (i.e. how they buy)—do not assume that it is automatically digital as that may not be appropriate given the buying situation involved.
In today’s tech-driven world, there are many situations in which buyers are adverse to technology, but this is key to ensure your delivery is as it should be. An example of this may be getting on a plane for a face-to-face meeting, rather than simply using video conferencing for a pitch.
Finally, you need to demonstrate how your company can strategically align and collaborate with the buyer, their division, organisation and supply chain to meet their requirements. Collaboration is a strength of many SMEs and start-ups so be sure to leverage this wherever possible.
B2B is a rewarding industry for all involved and long-term partnerships can allow your business to flourish. To successfully navigate the B2B space, you need a plan, the skills and guidance to provide a sound platform to build your success.
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