Refining the B2B Buyer Journey to Acquire and Keep Customers
The modern B2B buyer's journey is fraught with poorly performing sites, ill-planned user experiences, and half-baked solutions. A whopping 97 percent of B2B buyers report experiencing a pain point during the e-commerce purchasing process. Because poor technology implementations are often the problem, better technology is an obvious solution that should be implemented sooner rather than later.
Uncertain times and a shaky economy make it even more crucial that businesses optimize their B2B buyer journeys to ensure they’re providing everything necessary to create smooth processes for their buyers. B2B technology trends like artificial intelligence and hybrid cloud are still enticing sales, but success is more often produced by optimizing the user experience through an intentional conversion funnel.
The B2B Buyer Conversion Funnel
Buyers will often switch suppliers for a better experience, as 85 percent of survey respondents reported. A modern B2B buyer’s journey should anticipate potential frustrations and understand that you can only kick the can on addressing them for so long. It’s no longer enough to offer “the right product at the right price”; you also need to guide each customer with self-service information throughout every step of the journey, including after the sale. Let’s explore each of those steps.
Awareness: A function of marketing that ensures your existing and potential customers are well-informed of your business’s offerings and capabilities. This step is often referred to as the top of the funnel.
Registration: The prospect or customer gives a small amount of information about who they are in exchange for some small value, such as pricing or detailed service specifications.
Browse and Order: The prospect can access the catalog and place their first order. Note that in the B2B buyer journey, the conversion does not end here. B2B merchants should always strive for repeat business as a source of stability and growth.
Engagement: A fundamental key to the buyer journey. It may include automated email follow-ups, customer satisfaction surveys and routing the appropriate sales or service rep to the customer if an opportunity or problem arises.
And finally, the true measure of a successful B2B buyer conversion funnel is whether the buyer places recurring or frequent orders with you based on all of the steps above.
Ultimately, the data tells us that B2B suppliers and distributors are in constant peril of losing buyers. Not to mention, the standard to attract new buyers gets higher every day. Fortunately, thanks to modern cloud technology, you can get the right solution up and running in weeks instead of months.
An Example of the B2B Buyer Conversion Funnel: Offering Samples
As mentioned above, the B2B buyer journey doesn’t stop at the first sale. Doing business is about more than order capture—it’s a digital engagement platform with a series of interactions typically centered on a transaction. A powerful, real-world example of the conversion funnel is when a customer decides to offer or enhance their sample catalog.
During the awareness stage, this could look like setting up email campaigns to distribute information about new or relevant sample products to your potential buyers. Once it’s time for registration, the prospective buyer should be able to quickly and easily sign up to receive their sample order. As a company, it’s important to be collecting prospect information during this stage to continue using it further down the conversion funnel.
Now a registered user, your buyer should be able to browse the sample product catalog with ease and build a cart with their desired orders. There should be no hiccups during this stage, meaning proper digital optimization will ensure your corporation provides a smooth browsing, ordering, and checkout experience for each buyer.
At the engagement stage of the B2B buyer journey, your customer should be able to contact an expert at your company without having to cut through red tape. You should also establish a welcome journey complete with automated emails regarding shipping, delivery, and feedback to continue smoothly moving the sample order customer through the conversion funnel.
Finally, the sample order customer may wish to become a fully registered patron. It is at this repeat business stage that you should complete customer onboarding and ensure the B2B buyer journey continues consistently.
How Can I Implement a B2B Buyer Conversion Funnel?
Partner with an expert. The hardest part of analyzing your B2B buyer conversion funnel is being unfamiliar with what works, especially since the average company only does a redesign once every few years or never redesigns at all. This means you’re likely missing out on the latest trends that are actually working.
You don’t need to go on this journey alone; find an expert partner who advises on these issues regularly to ensure you’re well-informed. Doing so will allow you to look at your buyer conversion funnel from another angle and focus on areas to improve the buying experience as a whole.
Assess your situation. Next, work to understand the current state of the buyer experience, pain points, and any potential gaps in knowledge. Interview all stakeholders to find every perspective and gain a complete understanding.
For example, your sample ordering experience in the past may have been fraught with unresponsive links and limited payment options. You can only uncover these issues with careful scrutiny and an expert eye determined to improve your conversion funnel. This will help you form a consensus on opportunities and desired outcomes. You’ll also form your first draft of high-level requirements and supporting system architecture during this initial analysis phase.
Align on prioritization. Finally, align the prioritization and dependencies to form a road map. You are ready to follow up with the stakeholders you spoke to during the assessment phase to get buy-in on the plan’s implementation. Once this step is completed, you’re ready to execute the plan and get your B2B buyer conversion funnel back on track.
Joe Harouni is the Connected Commerce practice lead at Avionos, where he works with clients to deliver digitally enabled experiences that drive better customer, sales, and service outcomes.