[Book Review] An Important New Model of the B2B Buyer Journey

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Source:  Kogan Page Limited

Understanding how business people actually make buying decisions on behalf of their company is vital to B2B marketing success. Without such insight, it’s almost impossible to design and execute effective marketing programs.

Analysts, consultants, and other marketing pundits have responded to this need by developing models that attempt to describe the B2B buying process, which is now frequently called the B2B buyer journey.

These efforts are by no means new. The earliest I’ve found is a 1972 book titled Organizational Buying Behavior by Frederick E. Webster and Yoram Wind. About a decade ago, the B2B buying process model developed by SiriusDecisions (now part of Forrester) became widely popular with B2B marketers.

A new book by Antonia Wade – Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey:  Maximize brand, improve conversion rates and build loyalty (Kogan Page Limited, 2023) – provides a fresh, expansive, and decidedly buyer-centric perspective on B2B buying and marketing. 

Antonia Wade has specialized in B2B marketing for more than 15 years, so she can speak with authority on the topic. Ms. Wade is currently the Global Chief Marketing Officer of PwC, one of the leading professional services firms in the world. Previously, she held senior marketing leadership positions at several well-known B2B organizations, including Capita, Thomson Reuters, and Accenture.

What’s In the Book

The centerpiece of Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey is Antonia Wade’s buyer journey “framework.” In her opening chapter, Ms. Wade argues that traditional marketing “funnels” are inadequate to capture the vital attributes and dynamics of present-day B2B buying because many assume “a singular set of buyers going through a rational series of choices.”

Wade’s B2B buyer journey framework contains five distinct phases – Horizon Scanner, Explorer, Hunter, Active Buyer, and Client. Her labels for these phases symbolize the buyer’s needs and the thought processes that are important during each buyer journey stage.

In Chapter 02 of the book, Ms. Wade describes the major buyer needs that exist in each phase of her buyer journey framework, and in Chapter 03, she introduces the marketing objectives that are applicable in each phase.

Following this introductory material, Ms. Wade devotes a separate chapter to each phase of the buyer journey framework. In these chapters, she provides a detailed discussion of:

  • What buyers are trying to accomplish and how marketing should respond to those needs.
  • What types of content are most appropriate and what marketing channels are likely to be most effective.
  • What metrics are most relevant for measuring marketing performance.
In the balance of the book, Ms. Wade addresses a range of diverse topics, including:
  • The importance of understanding that the size and composition of your target audience can change at each phase of the buyer journey (Chapter 10).
  • How to use the buyer journey framework when deciding where to invest your marketing budget (Chapter 10).
  • The role of branding at each stage of the buyer journey (Chapter 11).
  • How to use technology and data to drive results across the buyer journey (Chapter 12).
  • How to build a more productive relationship between marketing and sales (Chapter 13).
Ms. Wade concludes Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey with an appendix that contains several useful guides and templates.
My Take
Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey contains a wealth of insights that will benefit most B2B marketers. Antonia Wade has been on the front lines of B2B marketing for more than 15 years, and the breadth and depth of her experience have enabled her to produce a book that is authoritative and practical.
The book is well organized and well written, but it is so packed with information that I can’t describe it as “light reading.” I read the book twice and got much more out of it from the second reading.

One particularly valuable attribute of Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey is that Antonia Wade doesn’t sugarcoat the complexities of B2B marketing. For example, Chapter 13 of the book contains an excellent discussion of why it’s critical for marketing and sales to build a more collaborative relationship.

In that discussion, Ms. Wade identifies eleven distinct issues that marketing and sales must, in her words, “get completely aligned on.” These issues include:

  • “Who is in the total addressable market in each part of the buyer journey.”
  • “What the buying stages look like, how long you think buyers will spend in each stage, and what information they will need.”
  • “How long something takes to sell.”
  • ” A realistic conversion rate – from the buyer’s perspective, not a work back from what the sales team needs to hit a number.”
  • “What signals there are that the buyer is moving from one stage to another.”

Even this partial list should make it clear that building the right kind of relationship between marketing and sales is a formidable challenge.

One final observation. Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey contains many insights that will be valuable for all B2B marketers. However, some marketers will need to modify or adapt some of the book’s specific recommendations to fit their circumstances. Here’s why.

When a business book is written by a practitioner, the advice it contains is usually based on the author’s professional experiences. As I noted earlier, Antonia Wade is the Global CMO of PwC, one of the largest professional services firms in the world. For the fiscal year that ended last June, PwC’s gross revenues were $50.3 billion.

The point here is that some of the specific methods and tactics described in Transforming the B2B Buyer Journey are very appropriate for a large enterprise selling expensive and complex products or services, but they may not be as appropriate for small or mid-size companies and/or companies that have a different product/service mix.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

David Dodd
David Dodd is a B2B business and marketing strategist, author, and marketing content developer. He works with companies to develop and implement marketing strategies and programs that use compelling content to convert prospects into buyers.

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