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B2B buyer process

Adience is an expert at researching the B2B buying process. Through a program of qualitative and/or quantitative research methods, we’ll:

01

Map out the typical buying process followed in your market, including the key stages and how you can influence decision-makers during these stages

02

Create a map of the decision-making unit, in which we identify the key players so that you know who you need to influence

03

Identify how to influence key decision-makers by optimizing your marcomms channels and messages

04

Detail key decision criteria, both conscious and subconscious, as well as their relative importance in decisions

05

Identify any key customer segments where buyer process deviates from the norm (e.g. SMEs or enterprises)

06

Conduct a win-loss audit to understand where in the journey prospective customers are won or lost

Based on these insights we’ll then make clear recommendations on how to influence the buying process and increase sales.

The Adience team has experience of conducting B2B customer journey research for leading international B2B brands, both among SMBs and enterprises. We couple this extensive experience with a suite of smart tools which probe the conscious and subconscious.

Our extensive experience of mapping B2B buying journeys for global brands has revealed eight fundamental characteristics which many buying journeys share. These observations guide (but never constrain) our approach.

01

Even when a buyer isn’t looking to make a purchase, they may be keeping themselves up-to-date with market developments and forming perceptions of suppliers. This process influences later decisions, so even when buyers are in a ‘passive’ state you need to be priming them to prefer your brand. Therefore, the research needs to explore what that ‘passive’ state looks like

02

A trigger event causes the buyer to consider purchasing a specific product or service, or to find a solution to a problem. This trigger can be internal or external (e.g. supplier sales activity). The research needs to understand what those triggers are, and how your organization can be present when they occur

03

A lack of conviction, or barriers to change (e.g. internal resistance, lack of time), can return the buyer to the status quo. The research needs to identify these barriers and ways to overcome them

04

In B2B environments decisions often involve multiple individuals – the Decision Making Unit (DMU). This DMU may include several roles (with one individual potentially filling multiple roles), and will likely have its own power dynamics. The research needs to identify how you can navigate the DMU effectively and influence key members of it

05

Often a buyer will start the process by educating themselves about the issue and then deciding which solution will best fit their particular problem. The research therefore needs to identify the key channels that buyers use to inform themselves, as well as the topics of information they’re looking for, so you can shape the agenda

06

Having identified their options, suppliers are then evaluated. During the evaluation process, the buyer or DMU assesses suppliers against a variety of criteria to identify the most suitable choice. These criteria include hygiene and differentiating factors. The research needs to identify the criteria you’re really being assessed against and what ‘excellence’ looks like in each

07

Having made a choice, and if necessary having had it approved, the buyer then makes the purchase and returns to the status quo…until the next trigger. The research needs to explore what drives loyalty to a new provider so that we can ensure your new customer stays that way

08

Across the buying process, there are hidden or unspoken dynamics which even the buyer may be unaware of, e.g. the criteria used to assess potential suppliers. Often what buyers say matters isn’t the whole truth. That’s because people often don’t understand why they make the decisions that they do and tend to over-rationalize the claimed reasons for their behaviour. This means that the research needs to use a variety of research techniques to probe deeply into behaviors and motivations

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