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Why B2B Marketer's have a bigger Customer Journey challenge than B2C

Why B2B Marketer's have a bigger Customer Journey challenge than B2C

As B2B marketers, when it comes to managing marketing across the "path to purchase" we certainly have a bigger challenge to face than our B2C counterparts. 

With B2C, while the organisation may have to manage lot's of different buyer personas, the reality is the path to purchase for a consumer almost always only includes one persona type. Whether it's a reclusive teenager looking to buy the latest playstation game, or a mother of three seeking a cute but comfortable pair of patent pumps, each persona works it's way through the entire B2C purchase path from start to finish - effectively having one ongoing conversation between the buyer and the brand.

At the end of the day, while B2C marketers have their own challenges (such as larger numbers of personas to manage), the path to purchase is very straightforward and provides clear ways to optimise, such as comparing how different buyer personas purchase the same product.

The challenge for B2B

With B2B, we have a much bigger challenge on our hands. The B2B path to purchase (or Customer Journey) is much more complex than those undertaken by our B2C counterparts. Not only do our B2B Customer Journeys include a larger number of stages for a buyer to move through, our journeys often take a longer time for the buyer to move through from start to finish (sometimes years). We have to juggle multiple stakeholders and personas moving in and out of the same Customer Journey, and to top it off - B2B marketing teams have to work hand in hand with sales as both teams are closely involved in multiple stages across the path to purchase.

So the reality is that our B2B Customer Journeys feel more like this:

B2B stages across the Customer Journey

Typical B2C Customer Journey has five core stages: Awareness, Research, Consideration, Purchase and Use. 

In comparison when you break down your B2B Customer Journey, you start to see a much longer list, for example:

  1. Awareness

  2. Research

  3. Request Information

  4. Demonstration / Presentation

  5. Consideration

  6. Evaluation / RFP

  7. Purchase Decision

  8. Contract Negotiations

  9. Delivery & Integration

  10. Use

  11. Support

  12. Feedback

  13. Advocacy

Depending on what you're selling, and types of customers you're selling to, this list can be even longer - including stages such as Trial / Pilot, Regulatory Review, Legal Review and the list goes on.

It's a marathon, not a sprint

The B2C customer path to purchase can be lightning fast, whereas in B2B it can feel more like a marathon.

With so many stages for the buyer and their stakeholders to work their way through, the entire B2B buying process can take days, to months, to years in some cases. This causes a whole raft of new challenges for B2B marketing and sales teams, as it's really hard to keep momentum and excitement when a process can drag on or stall for a long period of time.

For B2B marketing teams it's critical to have insight into where stalls often occur and what causes them, providing opportunities for the marketing team to craft collateral that can keep the relevant personas engaged and motivated to keep pushing the deal forward.

It's also critical to have visibility and alignment between sales and marketing, over what brand messages and collateral have been consumed while the champion and stakeholders have been cooling their heels in a particular journey stage. All too often conflicting brand messages, or repetitions of the same brand message with no follow through, can put off a prospective sale more than no engagement. Alignment between the marketing and sales team, and insight into real-time activity can help ensure this doesn't happen.

Dealing with multiple personas across the same Customer Journey

With B2C your Customer Journey stages are like gates, at each gate the consumer can choose to carry on to the next gate, or walk away. As it's the same buyer persona moving through each gate, and there's only four gates to close the sale, overall it's a straightforward process that produces lot's of data to optimise with.

With B2B your Customer Journey stages are more like hoops.

For example, in our B2B path to purchase we usually have a champion buyer persona - they're the one that understands the pain we're solving and kicks off the entire sales process at their end. For the first two-three stages we're usually just talking to the champion so those conversations are easy for us to control.

Then come all of the stakeholders... whether it's a CFO that's woken up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, an IT Team that's swamped and has zero interest in taking on extra work, or a C-Suite executive that's misunderstood the pain the champion is trying to solve and is running in a different direction, once the B2B sales process has begun multiple different characters, challenges and objections start coming out of the woodwork.

As a B2B marketer we can't rely on the champion taking this all on themselves, we need to be the support crew. That's where our B2B marketers shine with sales enablement collateral and resources designed to smooth over objections and win the hearts of stakeholders to help keep the customer moving forward. 

Without clear visualisation of where each stakeholder gets involved at each stage of the buyer journey, and the different marketing activity, content, assets and sales enablement collateral designed for each persona at each stage of the journey, this entire process can quickly fall out of alignment for both marketing and sales. The wrong piece of collateral for the wrong persona at the wrong stage, can easily shut a deal down.

This is the area that most B2B marketing and sales teams struggle with day-to-day, and it's the reason behind why we built Cooperate, to facilitate how B2B marketing and sales teams can manage their marketing activity, content, assets, and sales enablement collateral in a single platform, and visualise how each item relates to their customer journeys and stakeholder personas.

At the end of the day as B2B marketers we are all trying to move our customers through the path to purchase as smoothly and efficiently as possible, helping us to increase conversion rates, shorten the sales cycle and achieve higher revenue per lead.  

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