Mapping buyer journey jobs and stages for buyer enablement
Every step in the B2B buying journey is a balancing act of roles and responsibilities. The buying journey unfolds across distinct stages — awareness, consideration, decision, and retention — with each having its own set of tasks and strategies to complete and implement.
To understand how best to approach the B2B buying journey, it is critical to first understand how the different buying jobs evolve across stages. Equally, it is necessary to consider the challenges specific to intermediary and end-users’ needs, so that as little surprises you as possible.
Navigating the B2B Buying Journey
The B2B buying journey unfolds into four key stages, each with its own distinctive traits:
At this point, potential buyers have only just awakened to the realisation of a need or opportunity. It's the moment when problem or aspiration is illuminated for the first time, often by the end-users. In their recognition of the need for change, they identify the pain points and begin exploring possible solutions.
The journey progresses as the buyers begin their search for the perfect solution for their problem or aspiration. Alongside them, a group of intermediaries emerge, ready to shoulder the responsibility of gathering options and insights. They become the guides, helping end-users navigate the labyrinth of choices. Together, they evaluate different paths, weighing the pros and cons of potential solutions.
Enter: the decision-makers. Ultimately, they hold the authority, making the final call on which path the team will take. The intermediaries and influencers remain close-at-hand, providing counsel and support to decision-makers as they finalise their choice and sign on the dotted line.
This culminates in the grand decision — the moment of commitment. Congratulations!
Except, the journey doesn’t conclude once contracts have been signed and everyone’s legal departments are happy. Arguably, the fourth phase of the buying journey is the longest, with a potential for it to go on indefinitely.
Welcome to the world of customer retention, where end-users continue to engage with the chosen solution as it’s implemented into their work. Intermediaries ensure the relationship between buyer and supplier remains harmonious, and decision-makers keep an eye on the key metrics of the journey’s progress, adjusting as needed to ensure alignment with the organisation's goals.
The Evolution of Buying Jobs
Now, let's dive deeper into how these roles evolve through each stage:
From identifying needs in the awareness stage to becoming the solution's advocates in retention, end-users play a central role throughout. Their job evolves from recognizing the initial issue/s to championing the chosen solution.
Intermediaries are the guiding stars in the consideration stage, gathering information and steering the ship. Their role remains crucial when the focus turns to retention, ensuring smooth interactions between the decision-maker and the supplier so that contract negotiations are drama-free.
Decision-makers orchestrate the grand finale, shaping the organization's destiny. Once they’ve committed to a solution, their role becomes to ensure the solution continues to be a best-fit solution for their organisation in the retention stage.
Influencers wield their influence at every turn—it’s in the name. From providing insights into any issues in the awareness stage to supporting the decision-makers, their advice continues to be invaluable in retention.
Content and Interactions: Crafting the Narrative for Each Role
Throughout the process, the content you provide and the interactions you have will need to be personalised to each buying job to be most effective:
- Engage them with educational content in the awareness stage, showcasing how your solution aligns with their needs.
- When it comes to the consideration stage, provide them with detailed product information.
- After the decision, nurture their skills with training and support materials for effective retention; if they excel using the product, they’re more likely to meet the targets set by decision-makers.
- Offer comprehensive comparison guides and expert consultations in the consideration stage so they feel, and are, well-informed.
- As you move towards retention, provide them with ongoing support and resources to assist them in their role as liaisons between decision-makers and the end-user.
- Present business case studies and ROI analyses in the awareness stage, fulfilling their need for solid facts to inform their thinking.
- In the decision stage, offer personalized proposals, demonstrating how well your product/service fits their needs.
- Then in retention, deliver performance reports and insights so they can make informed decisions as to whether they’ll continue your business relationship.
- Engage them initially with industry insights and thought leadership content in the awareness stage, so they are informed.
- Leverage their expertise for guiding decision-makers in the consideration stage.
- Continue to maintain an ongoing dialogue with them in retention, where appropriate.
Challenges Faced by Intermediaries and End-Users: Navigating the Rough Waters
It’s the intermediaries who shoulder the complex task of managing multiple perspectives and needs, often becoming the bridge between end-users and decision-makers.
In this challenging role, they must ensure alignment with organizational goals while harmonizing the varied—and potentially at-odds—voices within the buying committee. Theirs is the task of filtering through a sea of solutions, negotiating terms, and safeguarding the organization's interests, and it can feel like navigating turbulent waters.
Providing intermediaries with the necessary tools and resources they need becomes paramount, as it will enable them to streamline their role in helping decisions get made. In doing so, businesses can fortify this critical link, ensuring smoother navigation through the intricate B2B buying journey.
At the other end of the spectrum, end-users spend their time embarking on a journey of discovery, searching for solutions that will transform their daily operations for the better. Not unlike their intermediary counterparts, these quests have their own challenges.
First and foremost: the abundance of information and myriad options available can be overwhelming. As end-users seek clarity amid the complexity, businesses must step in to simplify the decision-making process.
The most straightforward way to do this includes providing value propositions, easily accessible product information, and continuous post-purchase support. These become pillars which can support end-users as they navigate their information-heavy tasks. By addressing these challenges with empathy and insight, organizations can empower end-users to make confident decisions, ensuring any journey from awareness to retention is as smooth as possible for both parties.
Conclusion: The Epic Continues
The B2B buying journey is in its own way an epic narrative, rich with characters and roles. By understanding the dynamics of each stage and the influence of buying jobs, businesses can create compelling content and interactions tailored to everyone. Breaking down the whole into multiple stages, each with their own key stakeholders, enables a more manageable approach for all involved—and, hopefully, better business for you.