I started this year with a post about 5 Elements to incorporate into a B2B buyer-driven experience (BDX). During the year, I’ve talked about what to incorporate and how to use BDXs to build momentum toward buying.
As we do the work to get closer to our buyers and evolve our buyer-driven experiences, it’s important to assess the outcomes BDXs create to help our buyers make solid decisions.
Buying is about deciding more than it is about selling. Nothing gets bought unless a decision is made. Sounds simple, right? But it’s not. You know this because as many as 60% of buyers choose not to decide — mostly because they don’t know what to do. Without that decision, nothing gets sold, no revenue is generated, and your buyers may still be facing that gnarly problem that instigated their quest.
The objective of a BDX is to help customers make sense of and simplify their quest to decide what to do – to give them a fighting chance.
Therefore, I’d like to top off this year by discussing four outcomes from BDXs that will do just that.
1. Streamline Buyer Effort
One of the buyer preferences being touted near and far is that of self-reliance. Buyers are choosing to navigate solving problems on their own — without interacting with vendors — until they decide what to do and whom to talk with.
Since this has become a “thing,” what did we do? From what I’ve seen, we decided to either ignore this preference, wait until they proved they were later along in their process, or push even harder.
Somehow, we missed the point. Buyers pushed vendors away because we weren’t helpful earlier in their process of committing to change. Most buyers, 77% of them, say buying is difficult. It’s hard to blame them. This recent post by Vladimir Blagojevic on LinkedIn depicts a 25-step buying experience that’s frightening. Yet, given the 95 comments on the post, experiences like this are all too common.
A BDX must recognize that buying is a “side hustle” for most of our buyers. It’s not usually their day job. It’s crammed into the bit of free time they have. We think they have a buying process, but they don’t. Dave Brock makes a great case of how we invented the buying process to mirror our sales process.
Your BDX must streamline buyer effort by helping them simplify the complexity they’re facing, provide information that quickly matches their context and vision of value, and helps them make sense of the why, what, and how of exploring their options. It must be easy and provide a recognizable return for the effort expended.
Research from Gartner finds that “no-regret” buyers prefer content like that mentioned. Interestingly, “high-regret” buyers prefer modern content (think infographics, videos, podcasts) and short traditional content rather than deep dives into exploring the issue. What are your buyers reading?
Making this happen is reliant on how well we understand our buyers, their point of view about the problem, their concerns about what it will take to solve it, and their vision of the value they’ll get on the other side.
2. Align with What Buyers Value
Value is one of those high-level terms that can mean anything to anyone. What does value mean to your buyers? I’ll wager it’s tied to the use case and the outcomes they’ll gain by solving the problem.
Value must be tied to your buyer’s context to be meaningful. They pretty much need to be able to “taste, touch, and see” it. To get to that level, you need to get dirty. You need to get in the weeds with them. This means using phrases they use — not jargon or fluffy feel-good messaging.
The more relatable you can make the value, the more comfortable your buyers will be that you “get” them and that you’re a vendor that will deliver on the promises made. In other words, they’ll get the outcome you’re promising.
But here’s where it gets sticky. Buying committees are growing and every stakeholder has a perspective on value. This means you need to show them the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) as well as the WIIFO (what’s in it for the organization).
Brent Adamson’s video on the difference between a collection of yeses vs. a collective yes helps you understand this point. While I urge you not to give up on the individual value from the marketing side, I heartily agree that those individual values must all roll up to an overall objective everyone can agree upon to move forward.
This takes a bit of finesse that’s made possible with buyer insights and helps to drive internal conversations that you’re not in. What’s clear is that marketing can engage individuals and accounts and set the stage for developing consensus on the overall organizational objective. With the right sales enablement, your sellers can be set up to guide their exploration across the last mile to a decision.
3. Initiate Internal Buying Committee Conversations
Whether it’s 8, 15, or more buyers on the buying committee, it’s unlikely that all of them will proactively visit your website or be involved in all the buying meetings held with your sales reps. More importantly, if there’s no consensus on how to advance or which vendors to include in the evaluation, you won’t even get that far.
Brent Adamson summed it up recently, when he said, “Buyers don’t know how to buy given their internal decision complexity.”
Circling back to that preference for self-reliance, one of the best outcomes your BDXs can offer is to help facilitate internal conversations. Let’s face it, most of this change process is not spent with vendors, so you need to think differently about getting your ideas used to influence internal stakeholder conversations.
You know which of your buyers are most likely to interact with your website, follow your social media channels, attend your webinars, visit your booth at trade shows, etc. You should also know who else is on the buying committee and what each of them cares about.
What content, ideas, checklists, questions, and more are you providing that those you “know” can pass along to those you don’t? How are you helping them structure conversations to see value for their teams and how it rolls up to the overall organizational objective?
Don’t make them guess. Simplify their effort by telling them what to do with the information you’re sharing. Tell them how to use it and why it will contribute to gaining those yeses they need to move the process forward.
Once your ideas are being used to support the conversations buying committees are having, you’re actually “in the room.” The more meaningful and progressive those conversations get, the better position you’re in as a preferred vendor. Solid ideas build trust. They demonstrate understanding and expertise your buyers will find valuable. Helping to get everyone rowing together definitely wins points in your favor.
4. Increase Confidence to Enable Decisions
I’m old enough to remember the days when buyers had no choice but to engage with vendors to get access to information when they were considering buying something. That’s changed. And along with all this freely available information has come this sense of self-reliance.
However, rather than creating more informed buyers, we’ve now got confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated buyers. Buyers are no longer sure which information to believe and how to compare alternatives as a level set. They also don’t know what they don’t know which is often what leads to regret after a purchase. “If we had only known that before, we would have chosen differently…”
In Matt Dixon’s new book, The JOLT Effect, the culmination of all the changes in buying has resulted in a shift from FOMO (fear of missing out) to FOMU (fear of messing up) as buyers move through the process. Research has found that buyers are so paralyzed that they’ll make the wrong choice they’re choosing not to act. Buyers are experiencing a dearth of confidence that leads to indecision — more than half of them.
What’s interesting about the research is the discovery that the last half of choosing must be dealt with in the exact opposite manner as the first half. Where arguments about what they may be missing out on can activate curiosity, interest, and exploration, there’s a tipping point where the risk of making the wrong choice looms large and stalls forward momentum.
Summing it Up:
Increasing confidence is perhaps the most valuable outcome a BDX can create. If you build and optimize your BDXs for these outcomes above, you’ll find the first three can go a long way toward helping you capitalize on the fourth.
- Help buyers efficiently explore the solution to get what they need, but don’t overwhelm them. Going down a rabbit hole can also stall momentum.
- Ensure their vision for the value is clear, help them see the big picture, and build confidence that achieving it is doable — along with how you (as their vendor of choice) will help them get there.
- Confidence applies to all stakeholders, not just the final decision-maker. Make sure you know each of them and what they need. Help them rally around the big-picture outcome because they’re convinced that value served them/their teams, as well.