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The purchasing decision process: How do buyers shop in B2B | Mondu

When it comes to the B2B buyer journey in a business-to-business setting, the process can be quite different from what happens in a business-to-consumer (B2C) environment. B2B buyers are typically looking for solutions to their business problems instead of just trying to buy a product or service for personal use. Thus, the B2B purchasing decision process is typically longer, more complex and involves more stakeholders.

According to Gartner, the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves 6 to 10 stakeholders, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group. 1

Who is involved in the B2B buyer journey?

In the B2B buyer journey, a wide range of stakeholders can be involved, depending on the company size and the complexity and scope of the purchase. Some of the most common stakeholders include:

  1. The initiator: The initiator is the person who notices the problem or opportunity and voices concerns to others in authority. This can be anyone within the organization.
  2. The end user: The end user is responsible for using the product or service. This can be an individual or a team.
  3. Budget-holders: The person or team responsible for allocating the budget for the purchase and ensuring that the purchase falls within the organization’s financial constraints.
  4. The influencer: The person or team responsible for providing input and advice on the decision. They don’t have the final decision-making power but can still influence the purchasing decision by providing information, recommendations, or opinions on the product or service.
  5. Technical expert: A person with specialized knowledge of a product or service and can provide valuable insights and recommendations to decision-makers and other stakeholders.
  6. The decision maker: The person or team responsible for making the final buying decision. They collect all the information and consider the end-users’ needs and any budget or legal constraints to make the best decision.

What influences B2B purchasing decisions?

B2B purchasing decisions are affected by several internal, supplier and external influences. These influences are laid out below:

Internal

Budget: Businesses have a limited budget and must work within these budgets and ensure they get the best value for their money.

Culture: How a company operates and its values impact its decisions when purchasing products or services.

Objectives: Companies have objectives they want to achieve, which might influence their purchasing decisions.

Purchasing policies: Companies often have policies that must be followed when making any purchase.

Management approval: Purchases often need to be approved by upper management before making them.

Supplier

Product quality: Buyers look for a reliable product that offers value for money. They evaluate the features, design, materials, quality of components, and any other aspects that can affect the product’s performance.

Price: Buyers want the best deal and are looking for cost-effective solutions. They compare prices and payment terms to determine which supplier offers the best value.

Service & support: Buyers evaluate the quality of service and support they will receive from the supplier. They want to ensure they will be taken care of and that issues will be handled promptly and efficiently.

Delivery & logistics: Buyers want to ensure the product or service is delivered safely and on time. They evaluate the supplier’s delivery network, freight costs, and other factors affecting the delivery process.

Reputation & reliability: Businesses evaluate customer reviews, ratings, and feedback to ensure the supplier is trustworthy and has a good track record with other customers

External

Competitor prices: Businesses want to ensure they are not overpaying for a product compared to their competitors.

Industry trends: Companies want to ensure they are keeping up with industry trends and not getting left behind.

Regulatory requirements: Companies must follow any regulatory requirements when making purchases.

Market conditions: Businesses must be aware of market conditions affecting their purchasing decisions.

Technology advancements: Companies need to stay up to date with the latest technology to remain competitive.

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What is the B2B purchasing decision process?

There are several steps involved in the typical b2b purchasing decision process.  However, these steps are not necessarily performed sequentially and may not be as exhaustive for smaller purchases. Buyers may also revisit the same stage multiple times, often simultaneously.

  1. Identify Need: The first stage in the B2B purchase process occurs when companies identify a need or problem that requires a solution. This can arise from customer feedback, internal reviews, market trends and competitor analysis. Companies could also require a solution after recognizing potential opportunities to improve customer experience, reduce costs, or increase revenue.
  2. Develop requirements: Companies develop a list of requirements and criteria for selecting the best option. This list can include things like cost, features, customer support, and scalability. The goal is to ensure that the solution meets the company’s needs. 
  3. Research options: Companies research options that could solve the problem. This could include researching potential vendors, exploring different solutions, and reviewing customer reviews of possible solutions. The goal is to find the best solution that meets the company’s needs.  
  4. Request information: Companies reach out to vendors to request sales information, pricing, and product details. This usually involves contacting vendors directly for detailed information about the product.  
  5. Evaluate solutions: Companies evaluate the different solutions based on their requirements and criteria. This could include comparing features, watching a demo, assessing customer service options, reviewing pricing and asking for referrals. The goal is to select the best option that meets the company’s needs.  
  6. Select vendor: Companies select the best vendor based on their evaluation. Typically, the vendor that meets the greatest number of assessment criteria is chosen. The goal is to choose the vendor that provides the best overall solution per the company’s requirements.  
  7. Negotiate agreement: Companies negotiate a final agreement with the vendor. This could include negotiating pricing, payment terms, and implementation timelines. The goal is to get the best deal for the purchase.  
  8. Gain approval: Approval or signoff from the necessary person for the purchase is required. This is usually made by the decision maker which could be anyone from a manager all the way up to company leaders, depending on the purchase amount and the size of the company.
  9. Finalize purchase: Companies finalize the purchase which usually involves signing contracts, transferring funds, and/or starting the implementation process. 

The B2B buyer journey can be complex and time-consuming. Buyers must assess their needs, create a plan, research potential solutions, evaluate options, and make a decision that aligns with their company’s goals. By understanding the steps involved and the different factors driving decisions, sales teams can tailor their sales strategies accordingly and help buyers navigate the purchasing process more effectively.

1 https://www.gartner.com/en/sales/insights/b2b-buying-journey
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