The buyer’s journey is often classified into 3 stages: awareness, consideration, and decision. These can be visualized as a funnel or flow chart, progressing from one stage to the next. However, according to Gartner’s B2B Buying Journey, “Buying jobs don’t happen sequentially but more or less simultaneously. And if we were to map out a real B2B buying journey, it would look a lot less like a step-by-step linear process and a lot more like a big bowl of spaghetti.”
HubSpot describes a “flywheel” cycle in which customers become advocates and promoters who feed growth as they move through the phases of attract, engage, and delight.No matter how you visualize it, navigating this spaghetti wheel is challenging for buyers. B2B influencer marketing adds value, supporting buyers throughout this complex process.
Working with Influencers Solves B2B Sales & Marketing Challenges
Influencer marketing is often viewed as a way to get in front of an audience, similar to traditional television advertising. In reality, IM can deliver a much broader scope of benefits for all types of brands. (We’ll cover this and other myths in our upcoming article, “Top 5 B2B Influencer Marketing Myths BUSTED.”) For B2B brands in particular, IM can solve many pressing, current challenges.
Gartner identified six B2B buying “jobs” that customers must complete in order to finalize a complex purchase. Buyers, “use both digital and in-person channels with near equal frequency to complete each of the six B2B buying jobs more or less simultaneously.” “Every one of these moments is a potential driver of looping, revisiting or re-evaluation. As a result, customers are trapped repeating each job over and over until all six are locked in simultaneously.”
- Problem identification
- Solution exploration
- Requirements building
- Supplier selection
- Consensus creation
In Winning The New B2B Buyer, Forrester writes, “Your job is no longer to convince customers to buy, but rather, to help them buy.”
To help buyers throughout their journeys, B2B brands must deliver:
- Frictionless experiences with immediacy
- Open access to information
- The support of information connectors
- Peer validation
- Technical and industry knowledge
1. Frictionless Experience with Immediacy
Assisting buyers includes making the entire journey as frictionless as possible. Particularly once your prospects have begun evaluating vendors and are aware of your brand, they should be able to access the information needed both quickly and easily.
Some ways you reduce friction and provide immediacy are with helpful chatbots, virtual assistants, and third-party marketplaces. Influencers can also serve to provide this vital assistance, even directly enabling transactions.
2. Open Access to Information
Forbes Business Council writes about the impacts of buyers conducting more independent research online. “This transition [between marketing and sales] has become fuzzier as more buyers are reliant on self-serve, online research. This often results in pressure placed on a company’s online presence to do the heavy lifting for both the marketing and sales teams.”
With this added pressure on your online presence, partnering with influencers provides additional ways to educate your audience on the value of your solution.
- 70-90% of the B2B buyers’ journey is complete before engaging a vendor
- Consumers engage with an average of 11.4 pieces of content prior to making a purchase
In Winning The New B2B Buyer, Forrester writes that B2B buyers “expect to be treated as equal partners, through experiences that are increasingly open, connected, intuitive, and immediate.” Empowering buyers with open access to information displays a respect for their preference for a self-guided experience… and a recognition of their ability to understand that info.Working with influencers to share information further demonstrates how your brand is open and transparent. Influencers who are well-informed about your solution can connect with your target audience, helping facilitate and develop connections to your brand.
3. The Support of Information Connectors
“Helping B2B buyers buy isn’t a sales problem, it’s an information problem,” as Gartner states.
It might appear that the solution to such a problem might simply be… more information! Not so fast.
Simply dumping yet even more information on buyers isn’t the solution. Rather, Gartner research shows that successful sales reps focus on “helping customers sort through information already available — acting as a kind of ‘information connector’ to provide the frameworks and tools customers desperately need to efficiently organize and align their thinking.”
To succeed, brands must drive purchase ease, which requires curating information.As subject matter experts, influencers can bring this crucial support to your buyers by curating information and providing their unique perspectives on your industry. In the, “B2B Buying Journey,” AIMultiple writes, “Customers desire adjustments that address the complexity of B2B buying, like obtaining a personalized account with modified catalogs and exclusive pricing along with consideration to product availability.”
4. Peer Validation
The reviews and insights of peers are vital components of the buying process, B2B included. “To demonstrate their empathy with and commitment to customers, organizations will need to ‘enable’ buyers, just as they currently enable their sellers, with new perspectives and tools, such as facilitating more peer-to-peer conversations.”
Active online communities exist for every type of enthusiast – including buyers making purchase decisions. People can connect with peers to compare notes and gain insights. Forrester notes, “As the B2B buying ecosystem expands, third parties, not vendors, are becoming the buyer’s preferred sources of information.” The role of millennials in B2B buying continues to expand, and they also prefer peer insights and validation over vendor claims.
5. Technical and Industry Knowledge
Marketers of all kinds are accustomed to the challenge of capturing our audience’s attention. B2B brands are faced with additional complexities, including shortcomings in the capacity of sales staff.
In, “Future of B2B sales: The big reframe,” McKinsey notes, “Talent needs to be reassessed as businesses face both the attrition brought on by the pandemic and hyper-informed customers expecting more.”While your employees should be the best subject matter experts on your product’s specifications, leveraging thought leaders outside of your company can help fill industry knowledge gaps. In particular, influencers can show how your solution fits in your customers’ organization within a broader solution scope.
Build Digital Influence to Support Your Buyers’ Journeys with Kingfluencers’ Full-Service Approach
To learn more B2B IM, check out our 2-part series, “4 Reasons Why You Should Do B2B Influencer Marketing (Part 1)” and “How.” Contact us if you’d like to explore how we can help you build your brand voice with B2B Influencer Marketing and beyond. Kingfluencers pulls it all together in a way that’s impactful for your brand.
Author: Megan Bozman, Owner @Boz Content Marketing