When it comes to understanding the psychology of the buyer, much has been done in the world of B2C to get inside the mind of consumers to understand buying choices and preferences. For B2B, it has been harder to translate B2C research dynamics into ways that would make the psychology of B2B buyers more readily understood. However, what we do know is that there is an increasing consumerization effect happening in B2B buying whereby B2B buyers have the same desires for more experiential purchasing as opposed to a heavy emphasis on sterile transactions.
In part 2 of this series, I discussed the Buyer Orbit and the elements of the Buyer Choice Model. Each of these now filled with more psychological aspects related to why B2B buyers buy. This comes with many implications for B2B leaders to not only understand new buyer psychology but to also shift business models, operations, strategies, and interactions that transforms the way they connect with B2B buyers. In part 3, let us look at how B2B leaders are responding to new buyer psychology in relations to the elements of the buyer choice model.
Psychology of Buyer Choice
Understanding buyer choice has many implications for B2B strategies and tactics – whether they are focused on demand generation, content marketing, or selling approaches. Addressing new buyer psychology and buyer choice paradigms, within elements of buyer choice modeling, can be transformational:
With more and more buyers mapping out exploration due to the proliferation of content and information channels, a side effect of B2B businesses scrambling to be noticed in the 50% to 70% window of buyers remaining anonymous, B2B businesses are considering the implications of buyers taking deliberate action to map out their exploration.
What this means: predicting and modeling how buyers map and begin their exploring as well as what forms of navigation they usually take specific to their industry.
How to respond: devote more resources to qualitative investigative means, such as contextual interviewing and ethnographic research, to uncover how buyers begin their efforts to explore and how they are dealing with content proliferation.
As elaborated upon recently, the single buyer model is no longer sufficient and more and more B2B buyers operate from the new buying model of working within ecosystems and relying on network participation. Codependency is here to stay and B2B businesses must adapt.
What this means: reexamine how buyers are viewed internally and what forms of outmoded approaches may be resulting in missed opportunities.
How to respond: use various forms of B2B buyer research and begin working with buyers to understand important ecosystem and network drivers for their business and industries. Incorporate important ecosystem views into strategy and organizational infrastructure.
The art and science of decision-making is becoming more complex each year. An increasing number of variables are being introduced into decision-making such as globalization, uncertainty, ecosystem considerations, and more – shifting how buying is taking place.
What this means: how buyers are buying today is shifting dramatically and B2B businesses need to understand the new rules of decision-making, in addition to the buyer decision journey, that are being implemented for purchase decisions.
How to respond: shift internal focus to understanding new rules affecting decision-making, acquired through the mix of analytics and qualitative insight, and support how buyers are making purchase decisions.
Buying today, as mentioned in part 2, is a higher stakes game for many businesses today. The margin for costly mistakes is the slimmest in decades. The extent of poor choices can have disastrous effect on many aspects of a business. Understanding high stakes motivations enables a focus on why B2B buyers buy.
What this means: B2B leaders must not confuse how buyers buy with why buyers buy. The focus here is on understanding the new buyer psychology in terms of their collective attitudes, goals, beliefs, perceptions, and drivers. This new collection of mental models are changing each time new variables, such as new technologies, are introduced.
How to respond: getting an understanding of buyer mental models through qualitative research efforts will become more crucial each year as buyer psychology continues to shift.
With higher stakes involved in decision-making and purchases today, B2B buyers seek more assurances post-purchase than ever before. Unlike the emphasis on engagement in B2C post-purchase, the need for deeper ties relationally is affecting long-term loyalty.
What this means: shifting out of funnel thinking and viewing the entire buyer experience cycle is a new rule of B2B thinking today.
How to respond: post-purchase support and talent can no longer be an after-thought of organizational planning but be seen as the gateway to being included in newly formed ecosystems and networks by buyers.
What we are witnessing today is a marked shift from funnel-thinking to that of focusing on the total buyer experience that does not fit neatly into stages or step approach thinking. The new buyer psychology compels B2B businesses today to make the buyer the centerpiece of strategy and respond to the continuous loops of what confronts them (the buyer orbit) and the choices (buyer choice model) they must make.
Next up: Impact on Marketing and Sales