In recent research* into the habits of b2b buyers in complex procurements, we asked about the process used to make decisions.
It was found that respondents from large enterprises had many more steps in their process when compared to the SMEs (who had a more rapid process). Enterprise approaches were more structured to accommodate governance, risk and approvals. A key driver of this was the higher number of people involved in the buying process (often over 10 compared to the average 5.8**).
There are similarities.
The findings showed that whilst there is no single answer there are some commonalities that can help you navigate the buying process. They confirmed our previously held belief that a typical buyer goes through three core stages (though they may have multiple steps at each stage):
- Why buy? Why should the buying company do something different from today’s approach? What is their business case for change and do they have the resources to implement?
- Solution? From the options available to the buyer which should they pursue and what will their procurement approach be? On reaching consensus here they often reach out to possible suppliers (if they hadn’t engaged already)
- Why you? A buying team will likely have a number of potential suppliers who each offer a suitable answer to the requirement. Which offers the best risk-reward and which one should they choose as their provider?
At each stage the buyers require and seek different information. In future posts we will share information on some of these core requirements
For now, think about your sales engagement process. Does it reflect the buying process?
*The research study was completed in late 2015 by a project team at Sheffield Hallam University, completing this as part of their Masters degree in Marketing.
** OISM opportunity management research 2015