B2B Sales

Why buyer experience is an integral part of B2B sales

When you buy your next car or TV, what will you do? Will your first action be to go to the showroom and talk to a salesperson, probably letting them talk you into buying the model they think is right for you? Or, will you spend a few hours online researching what’s out there, narrowing it down to a shortlist of options with everything that matters to you, before you finally go down to the showroom and talk to the salesperson? In 2024, most people choose the latter – and the same is true in B2B software sales.

With only 17% of the buying process taking place between the buyer and seller, b2b sales experience now only has a small window where they can engage with prospects. They absolutely have to make it count. When you get to that engagement point, it’s essential that you focus on what matters to your buyer, rather than what you think they want to hear. That’s buyer enablement: making it easy to buy from you.

the percentage of a buying process occurs between the buyer and seller

Let's deep dive into buyer experience, what it is and how you can benefit from adopting to a buyer-centric approach.

What is buyer experience?

Buyer experience refers to the way your target customers perceive and navigate the process of making a buying choice. But what does that mean in practice? 

3 components of buyer experience

We can break down the buyer experience into three components:

  • Information - The information you provide to your buyers at each stage of their buying process is what will drive them to the next stage and eventually towards the deal
  • Personalisation - An excellent buyer experience is about making them feel like they’re unique rather than one of many people you’re selling to at that moment
  • Simplicity - You have to make it easy to buy from you. The simpler you can make it for the buyer to get through their decision-making process and sign the deal, the better

Of course, the exact nature of what makes a good buyer experience will differ between accounts. That’s because every account and buyer is different. Every account you work on will have a different buying team made up of people in various roles. Each buying team member will work on a different criteria based on what matters to them. That's why (as we’ll find out later) it’s important to map each account's decision-making process and adapt your sales approach to match. However, if you can deliver information, personalisation and simplicity, you are on the way to successful buying experience.

Buyer experience vs customer experience

Some people in B2B sales may use buyer experience and customer experience interchangeably, but it’s important to know they’re not the same. Buyer experience relates to everything that happens before you do the deal and the prospect becomes a customer. On the other hand, customer experience refers to everything that happens after the deal, ensuring the customer is well-served so they are happy to sign back up at renewal time.

It’s another battleground between B2B software organisations, with 44% of companies currently investing in customer experience to reduce churn.

Sometimes, you’ll use similar methods in buyer and customer experience to achieve better results, such as personalisation. But when we talk about buyer experience, it’s all about building a relationship and moving them along in buyer journey towards the deal.

Benefits of delivering an optimal buyer experience

If you can deliver a buying experience that genuinely resonates with your target accounts, it can have a massive impact on your sales KPIs. Here are 5 metrics where buyer experience has an influence:

  • Conversion rates - Quite simply, the better you treat your buyers at every stage of the b2b buyer journey, the more likely they are to take the step to the next one. For example, a demo that meets their needs is more likely to move them forward than one focused solely on top-rated features.
  • Deal size - If a buyer enjoys the experience of dealing with you, you’ll be able to sell more to them. They’ll get used to cover more bases rather than go to other companies (who aren’t as attentive as you) to fill the gaps
  • Sales velocity - An optimal buyer experience shortens the buying cycle by moving the buyer to closing deal faster. This could be because you have mapped out their decision-making process so you can be there with the right personalised information at each stage, meaning they don’t have to waste time searching for it themselves
  • Retention - When you provide an excellent buyer experience and couple it with an optimal customer experience, you lower customer churn. After all, why would they waste time with your competitors when they get everything they need from you?
  • Referrals - What’s more, they’ll tell their network about the unique buyer experience you delivered. They’re also more likely to leave a favourable review on sites like G2
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Limitations of the traditional B2B sales approach

With benefits as clear as these, it’s surprising that so many B2B teams still stick to the traditional methods of selling, where they run the steps of sales process rather than focusing on buyer. 

Traditional B2B sales is a sales-centric approach that prioritises the product rather than the buyer’s experience. Sales teams that work in this way do not take the time to personalise and sell based on the buyer’s specific pain points. They instead approach all their buyers with the same pitch. As a result, they fail to align with their buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration to the decision point, missing opportunities to engage, support and steer the buyer in their direction. 

They haven’t yet adjusted to the new world of sales where buyers have access to all the information they could ever need about their product (and their competitors) and would rather make a purchasing decision on their terms. They don’t understand how buying teams work and that different members work to different criteria. But with sales teams refusing to adapt, it’s no surprise that Gartner research found that 77% of buyers believe that B2B purchases are ‘very complex and difficult.’

On the other hand, modern B2B sales teams focus on a buyer-centric model, which yields the desirable results outlined earlier. It only takes a few shifts in approach to create a better buyer experience.

How to boost your buyer experience

Let’s go back to our three components of buyer experience and look at what you do to address each one in your B2B sales team. 

1 - Information

Buyers want the information that helps them make the right decision. That means you need to hit them with the right sales content at the right time. The content you create (whether in the form of articles, presentations, demos, video or anything else) needs to address the specific challenges that the buyer is facing and shows how you will solve those challenges and deliver tangible value.

Take time to understand how your buyer will make their decision and the step of sales process they will need to go through. Because there will probably be 6-10 buying committee members influencing the deal, it will likely be a web of interactions rather than a smooth line. However, when you align the content with your buyer’s journey, you help them with consideration content when they’re at the consideration stage, for example. Create content for every stage of their journey.

2 – Personalisation

Of course, the content you create should be personalised, so the buyer can see how much you matter to them and they’re not just a name on a list. 

However, it’s more than putting their logo on a generic presentation. Personalisation is about understanding how the buying team at an account works and finding out what matters to each person. For example, the Finance Director will judge your product to different criteria than the VP of Sales. When you understand what each person is looking to get when they buy from you, you can position your content to resonate with each member on a personal level.

3 – Simplicity

Simplicity may be the most important of the three, but it’s also the easiest to deliver.

Part of making it easy to buy from you is getting the basics right. If a buyer calls you and you’re not around, get back to them as soon as possible. Reply to emails on the same day if you can. Buyers will appreciate this responsiveness and reward you. If you have a champion (probably the person who will get the most value from your solution on a day-to-day basis) who is advocating you to the rest of the buying team, support them as much as you can. Be their trusted advisor rather than a salesperson.

Take a multichannel approach to meet your buyers on their terms rather than yours. For example, if they like to use WhatsApp for business rather than email or phone, be present on their preferred channel, even if you find it difficult. 

The role of technology

Technology can help you improve each component of buyer experience in your B2B sales team. When you put tech at the heart of your buyer experience delivery, you give your buyer the control they crave. For example, a buyer enablement tech platform (like Forward) can ensure:

  • Your buyers have the information they need when they need it, all in one place (No more trawling through emails)
  • Personalisation at scale – with a specific workspace for each account. The buyer feels like they’re number one
  • Content that’s simple to share within buying teams (while sales teams can track engagement)

Are you ready?

Now you know how integral buyer experience is to the modern B2B sales environment, what will you do to give your prospects a better experience? 

With a few changes in approach, aided by some clever technology, you can make buying from you an easy, pleasurable experience. Doing this helps you win more deals and sets yourself apart in the marketplace.  

Introducing Forward

Forward is the sales enablement platform that gives your buyers everything they need in one place. Here’s how it works:

  • When you begin working with a target account, you create a Forward space exclusively for you and that account
  • Inside your secure space, you can share content with your buyers. From initial presentation to final contract, your content lives in Forward and can easily be shared around the buying team
  • Inside your space, you can assign tasks and set deadlines to keep the deal moving forward
  • Real-time notifications ensure your reps know when to reach out. Nothing falls through the cracks
  • Forward offers advanced analytics to track buyer's engagement, action and overall deal momentum
  • When it’s time to do the deal, Forward is compatible with your e-signature platform

Sales teams love Forward as it makes sales a collaborative process with their buyers, shortening the sales cycle and reducing the number of deals that go dark. They can sell in the way their buyers want, delivering unique, relevant content in a digital setting, as and when they need it.

Buyers like Forward because it gives them the easy buying experience they demand. Each part of the buying team can work on the parts where they have responsibility, with the right information at their fingertips – and no endless email threads. 

B2B buying has changed. But with Forward's digital sales rooms, you can join the modern way of selling and reap the rewards.

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