B2B Purchase Process: How to Apply 2013 Buyersphere Survey Results

Mapping the B2B purchase process or buyer decision process and the content that buyers are looking for is a key challenge for planning and executing better b2b marketing. BaseOne, a terrific European B2B branding agency, has once again published their benchmark study “HOW B2B BUYERS SEEK INFORMATION TO MAKE A PURCHASE” to include updated 2013 results. In this post we take a look at some of their key findings and apply them to developing better B2B content.

Information Used In the B2B purchase process

B2B Purchase Decision, B2B Buyer, B2B Decision Stages, B2B Pricing, B2B technical information, B2B industry overview, B2B competitive comparison, Interview with a company expert
Key finding: the top 4 information types used during the B2B purchase process

#1 pricing information

#2 technical/product/or service specifications

#3 industry or competitive comparisons

#4 interviews with company experts

Here are 3 practical tips on why and how to target these B2B buyer information needs:

Should You Put B2B Pricing On Your Website and In Your Content?

Data from MarketingSherpa agrees that pricing is often the number on search during the B2B purchase process yet B2B websites rarely have pricing information or pricing pages.  Prices in complex B2B sales are often challenging to publish as web content.  But making the effort to provide some pricing information for example how you approach pricing, how a buyer should budget for a purchase, or even sample project pricing will deliver relevant content and provide valuable prospect profiling data.

B2B Competitive Comparison Tools

The B2B Purchase Process includes comparing solution alternatives and vendors.  So it is not a surprise to see industry and competitive comparisons highly ranked.  B2B Buyers are trying to understand the market and how different solutions will apply to their specific needs and pains.  But B2B marketers rarely share relevant or useful comparison tools or information.  This is a missed marketing opportunity.  As a vendor in the space, you are uniquely positioned to understand your industry and competitors.  The current providers of comparison content are 3rd party research firms and analysts who often focus on information gathering and proprietary analysis formats rather than really useful analysis. So if you believe that your offer a real value proposition, go ahead and map it our for your prospects.  It is information they want  to know!

Interviews with company experts

In the B2B purchase process for a complex sale, buyers know they won’t find all the information they need through digital research.  They are just working to get as much as they can so they can understand and evaluate your information before getting into a high velocity sales conversation.  But eventually they need to take generalized solution information and apply it specifically to their needs and requirements.  And that takes a live, consultative conversation with an expert.

One approach is to package subject matter expert interviews as content to demonstrate how you can provide expertise and thought leadership.

A second approach is speaking at live industry events and making sure you offer some one on one Q&A sessions.

A complementary third approach is to position early sales conversations as information sharing.  The terrific Michael Brenner has coined the concept of “Stop selling and start helping” which focuses on helping B2B buyers buy by offering more relevant and valuable information during the B2B purchase process.  This is clearly content and a format that B2B buyers want.  The big opportunity is to add a “information Q&A” offer to your sales readiness calls to action along with download more resources, get pricing information or a quote, and contact us.

Leveraging B2B Purchase Process Learning for better marketing results

There are lots of other smart B2B buyer process insights in the Buyersphere so it is worth a download and then some thinking about how to apply their findings to deliver better B2B marketing.  Don’t forget that their research does not break their findings out by decision stage.  And by definition they are purchase focused rather than need focused in their learnings.  Check out this post on decision stages for more information on how to create content for different buyer decision stages.