Dissecting the B2B Buyer Journey

When you think of the B2B buyer journey, you might think of a linear path from point A (initial inquiry) to point B (final purchase). In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, buyers go through a complex series of interconnected stages, during which they drive the next action and decisions equally as much as marketing and sales teams.

To successfully generate leads, engage prospects, and win new clients, B2B companies must embrace this new reality and figure out how to navigate it successfully. In this guide, we’ll tell you how.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Today’s B2B buyer journey is driven by independent buyers and heavily digital communication.
  • Most buyers don’t contact suppliers until they’re more than halfway through the buyer journey.
  • High-value content is a key asset for engaging new leads and making a strong first impression.
  • Active buyer engagement must happen at every journey stage—even after final purchase.
  • Strategies for effective engagement in the modern B2B buyer journey include personalization, data-driven decisions, quality content, omnichannel engagement, and fast responsiveness.

What is the B2B Buyer Journey, Anyway?

The B2B buyer journey describes the stage-by-stage processes that B2B buyers go through as they make a purchase decision. Unlike the faster and often impulsive buying that goes on in B2C environments, the B2B buyer journey is longer and complex. The entire process can span weeks or even months.

It also usually involves multiple stakeholders or even entire buying committees that require businesses to cater to varying perspectives, personalities, and priorities. As you can see in the visual representation from Gartner below, the B2B buyer journey has no shortage of moving parts to navigate and touchpoints to track.

Gartner’s flowchart depicting the B2B buyer journey

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Today, the B2B buyer journey has also been largely digitized, meaning there are more touchpoints and higher consumer expectations for response times and engagement than ever before. Buyers are also becoming more independent throughout the journey, using digital channels to do their own research, vet potential vendors, and answer their own questions without the support of sales reps.

All of this has made it more important than ever for B2B marketing and sales teams to take a fresh look at the stages of the buyer journey and the nuances of each. By doing so, your organization can tailor its strategies to align with modern preferences and demands, drive time and cost efficiencies throughout the process, and guide top prospects more seamlessly toward final purchase.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the stages of the modern B2B buyer journey and how to engage prospects effectively during each one.

5 Stages of the Modern Buyer Journey

1. Awareness Stage

The first step in every B2B buyer journey is awareness. At this stage, buyers identify a gap or a challenge within their business that requires a solution. Today, this recognition often happens with the support of online sources—for example, a blog post highlighting industry challenges, or a Google search that helps them realize their quick question is actually a larger issue.

In the past, buyers would act on this awareness by contacting a provider sales team with the expertise and solutions to help them navigate it. Today, that’s not the case. Buyers do their own research and often don’t reach out directly to potential vendors until they’re more than halfway through their journey.

Buyers are 57% of the way through their B2B customer journey (on average) before they reach out to a supplier.

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It’s for this reason that high-value content like blogs, videos, e-books, whitepapers, and social media posts have become so crucial for B2B lead generation. They’re often what engages buyers at the start and delivers their first impression of your business.

2. Consideration Stage

With a clearer understanding of their need, buyers then dive deeper into their research, performing direct comparisons between vendors they’re considering. Again, these early stages are heavily influenced by content, much of which provides direct comparisons of industry suppliers.

For example: On sites like G2 and Capterra, you can search for a particular type of solution, and on a single page see top-rated providers in that space, complete with product/service summaries and reviews from past clients.

This emphasizes the importance of maintaining a stellar brand reputation and strong relationships with current and past customers who can vouch for you to potential new ones.

3. Decision Stage

The decision stage is where most modern B2B buyers begin to engage more heavily with marketing and sales. The process, however, is still more customer-driven and collaborative than it was in the past. Sales teams are no longer the sole providers of information. Instead, buyers come ready with an established impression of your business, and content-informed questions.

During this stage, marketing and sales teams must focus less on hard selling products and services or even describing their features in detail. Instead, it should be about listening, answering questions, and driving home the value of your offerings through client success stories, demos, and the like.

4. Validation Stage

Modern buyers seek validation not just from vendors but from a wider online community. They may revisit online forums, check updated reviews, or seek out new data or case studies released. This stage is crucial and can be influenced by real-time online discussions, updated industry reports, and evolving market trends.

That means engagement can’t end with an initial purchase decision—leads must be nurtured well until the deal is officially closed and solutions are successfully implemented and delivering value.

5. Retention and Advocacy Stage

After purchase and implementation, customers still want to feel valued by providers through an obvious commitment to customer success and satisfaction. Modern buyers expect continued support, updates, and available resources delivered through the channels most convenient for them. Successful providers are aware of this expectation and deliver long-term.

When they do, buyers become customers and customers become advocates who appreciate the total end-to-end experience they’ve been provided. This is absolutely critical for driving new business—nearly 90% of buyers directly seek out word-of-mouth assurance and 75% consider it the key factor in making their final purchase decision.

Graphic highlighting B2B referral statistics, including that 88% of buyers seek out word-of-mouth assurance, and 75% consider it the key factor in their final purchase decision

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Strategies for Effective Buyer Engagement

Crafting a successful B2B buyer engagement strategy in today’s digital marketplace requires a holistic approach that resonates with buyers at every stage of their journey. Central to achieving this is the creation of a seamless and integrated buyer experience, where each touchpoint is both a continuation and an evolution of the last.

To do this, your strategy must incorporate these key pillars for effective buyer engagement:

  • Data-driven insights: Your marketing and sales strategies must be built on the effective collection and use of buyer data. This is best enabled by a good CRM tool.
  • Personalization: Use marketing automation tools to personalize buyer communications at scale without sacrificing the quality of your message.
  • High-value content: Different stages of the B2B buyer journey require different types of content. Know what your buyers want and need at each stage, and deliver it in a targeted, engaging way.
  • Responsiveness: Don’t leave buyers waiting. Be sure your marketing and sales teams have the resources they need to respond quickly to inquiries.
  • Omnichannel engagement: Implement an omnichannel marketing and sales strategy that allows buyers to engage on their preferred channels and delivers a consistent, connected experience.
  • Well-developed brand: Your brand is what initially attracts buyers to your business. Have a solid understanding of how your brand is represented online and control the narrative around it.

With these strategies in place and an active commitment to serving your buyers well at every stage of the journey, you can power higher engagement, more leads, and reliable pipeline growth.

How RevBoss Can Help

RevBoss is an outbound prospecting and lead generation platform and service built specifically to help clients navigate the complex B2B buyer journey. Our solutions are designed for high-growth B2B organizations, like SaaS companies, startups, and agencies. At every turn, we help you execute outbound strategies that not only generate quick leads, but build trust and long-lasting customer relationships.

Ready to learn more? Schedule a call with us to find out how we can help you grow your business.