Buying Cycle – Interest, Research & Consideration

The previous post covered the first two steps of the buying cycle to move prospective buyers from the sidelines to awareness. This post explores the next three steps of Interest, Research and Consideration in the B2B customer buying process.

During the interest step, the prospective buyer makes the connection between a problem or opportunity and the need for a particular product/service/solution. This may happen from either direction:

  • An internally known problem or opportunity that needs to be resolved. The prospective buyer initiates the interest. This is what most marketing and sales organizations tend to look for, but it may only represent a small part of all potential opportunities.
  • An external source instigates the solution need for an overlooked problem or opportunity. Most companies have many unresolved problems and opportunities but don’t take action because of entrenched processes and/or daily workload priorities. If your marketing and sales outreach can instigate the interest, you’ll have the inside track for the sale.
B2B Buying CycleNow that the prospective buyer has identified the need, the next step is research to determine the right product/service/solution for their needs:
  • Internally, to determine and get agreement on the specific requirements of what would be the right solution for the problem or opportunity. Companies frequently use consultants, mavens or other trusted sources to assist with defining requirements. Marketing needs to ensure that these third parties have a good understanding of your solution.
  • Externally, to determine a list of possible solutions and suppliers. This is usually a long list of all relevant possibilities. If you have educational and authoritative materials readily availability from multiple sources to support this research activity, you can shape the requirements to align with your value proposition.
Once the buyer has the requirements of what is needed and a long list of possible solutions and suppliers, they’ll move to the consideration step. This is where sales and marketing usually become actively involved with the prospect, but can also be a point of disconnect. The buyer wants to get more information, do comparisons and analyze which are the top 2 or 3 most suitable solutions to move into the next step for making a decision. Some common disconnects for sales and marketing to consider during this step:
  • The buyer is looking for specific information which may only be accessible from your company after providing registration information on your website. If they register, does marketing respond to their specific circumstances or are they just dropped into the lead generation process?
  • Sales want to get into selling mode, but what may be most beneficial for the prospective buyer is consultative guidance from industry/domain experts in your pre-sales organization. Showing the knowledge and expertise your company can provide is the most effective sales approach during this step.
  • The buyer gets disconnected from the underlying business objectives with information overload during the comparison and analysis process. Discussions with the buyer should focus on the business problem or opportunity and the value your solution provides.
Interest, awareness and consideration are separate process in the buying cycle that buyers typically work through. Recognizing these steps in your marketing, sales and lead management processes can help you better connect with prospective buyers.

The next post explores the Decision and Purchase steps in the B2B customer buying process.

Your comments are always welcome.
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