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business leaders sit at table in office and engage in the B2B buying journey with potential clients

Mastering the B2B Buying Journey: Essential Strategies for Marketers

March 21, 2024

Today’s B2B buying journey has dramatically evolved. Buyers now take a self-guided approach, engaging with sellers much later in the process.

A recent study by 6sense, echoed by findings from Marketing Charts, reveals this shift. It shows that buyers often wait until they are nearly 70% through their decision-making before reaching out to vendors. Even more striking, a vendor that makes the first contact with the buyer wins the business 84% of the time!  These dramatic changes demand a fresh look at how B2B marketers strategize.

In this article, we dive into these insights, uncovering how businesses can adapt to meet the modern B2B buyer’s needs. Let’s explore the key findings and strategies that can help your company stand out in the B2B marketplace.

Quick Takeaways

  • B2B buyers typically initiate contact with sellers 70% through their decision-making process, highlighting the need for vendors to establish visibility and credibility early.

  • The vendor that makes the first contact with the buyer wins the business 84% of the time, emphasizing the importance of being top-of-mind during the early stages of the buying journey.

  • Strategies such as thought leadership content, expert consultations, and educational events are crucial for early engagement and influencing buyers’ preferences and requirements.  

  • Success in the B2B buying journey requires leveraging data for personalized engagement, building strong relationships, and adapting strategies based on buyer behavior and market trends.

The Shift in Buyer Engagement

The way B2B buyers engage with sellers has dramatically shifted. Research underscores a significant change: Buyers now engage with sellers almost 70% through their buying journey. This delay means they spend a substantial portion of their decision-making process independently, gathering information and setting their requirements without vendor input.

A pivotal insight from the study highlights this trend. Before contacting vendors, 78% of buyers have either fully established or mostly decided on their requirements. Additionally, buyers take the initiative to contact vendors 83% of the time, indicating a proactive approach in their search for solutions.

graphic shows statistic that says buyers take the initiative to contact vendors 83% of the time

These statistics underline a critical shift. The modern B2B buyer prefers to navigate the bulk of their purchasing journey on their own terms. This change challenges vendors to find new ways to become part of the buyer’s journey earlier, ensuring they are in a position to influence decisions from the outset.

Winning Early in the Buyer’s Journey

Securing a position early in the B2B buying journey is more crucial than ever. The findings are clear: 84% of buyers choose the vendor they contact first. This statistic reveals the significant advantage of being top-of-mind when buyers decide to reach out to vendors.

The importance of early engagement cannot be overstated. It means vendors must strive to be the first point of contact. Achieving this requires not just visibility, but also establishing credibility and trust before the buyer formally initiates the purchase process.

Engaging early helps vendors shape the buyers’ requirements and preferences. Since buyers have usually set their criteria by the time they make contact, influencing these criteria beforehand can set a vendor apart from the competition.

pie chart shows that buyers usually set their criteria by the time they make contact with a vendor

This early influence can dramatically increase the chances of being chosen as the preferred vendor, underscoring the need for proactive engagement strategies in today’s B2B marketplace.

Key Engagement Strategies

To engage B2B buyers early in their journey, vendors must adopt a mix of strategies. These tactics not only attract buyers’ attention, but also position vendors as thought leaders and trusted advisors

Thought Leadership Content

Creating and sharing insightful content establishes your brand as an authority in your field. This content can include whitepapers, research reports, and blog posts that address industry challenges and trends.

By providing valuable information, you attract buyers who are seeking solutions and insights during their independent research phase.

1-on-1 Subject Matter Expert Consultations

Offering consultations with experts can significantly influence buyers’ decisions. These interactions allow vendors to address specific buyer concerns, tailor advice to their unique needs, and build a relationship early in the buying process.

Practitioner Communities

Building or participating in communities where practitioners share insights and experiences can be a powerful way to engage with potential buyers. These platforms offer an informal setting for vendors to demonstrate expertise, understand buyer challenges, and subtly influence their preferences.

Educational Events

Hosting or participating in webinars, workshops, and seminars can attract buyers who are actively seeking knowledge. These events offer a direct way to engage with potential buyers, showcase your solutions, and understand their needs and concerns.

Buyer Interaction Preferences

Understanding how buyers prefer to interact during their purchasing journey is key to engaging them effectively. Vendors must offer a mix of virtual and in-person interactions, supplemented by high-quality, informative content.

bar graph shows that 55% of buyers engage in virtual meetings with vendors

Understanding and catering to these preferences can help vendors connect more effectively with buyers and influence their decisions during the crucial stages of the buying journey. The research sheds light on these preferences, offering valuable insights for vendors.

Virtual Meetings with Vendors

Virtual meetings have become a staple of the B2B buying process, with 55% of buyers engaging in these interactions. The convenience and efficiency of virtual meetings make them popular, but they come with the challenge of making a strong impression remotely.

In-Person Meetings

Despite the rise of digital communication, in-person meetings remain highly valued, with 45% of buyers preferring this method. These interactions are often seen as more engaging and effective in building relationships and trust between buyers and vendors.

Consuming Vendor Content

Vendor content plays a crucial role in the B2B buying journey, with 43% of buyers consuming it. This content, whether it’s case studies, product demos, or industry insights, influences buyers’ decisions and perceptions of vendors.

Other Interactions

Vendor content plays a crucial role in the B2B buying journey, with 43% of buyers consuming it. This content, whether it’s case studies, product demos, or industry insights, influences buyers’ decisions and perceptions of vendors.

Strategies for Success

To effectively navigate the evolving B2B buying journey, vendors must adapt their strategies to meet the modern buyer’s needs. Success hinges on early engagement, understanding buyer preferences, and tailoring approaches to influence buying teams. Here are actionable strategies to achieve these goals:

  • Become a Resource Early On: Establish your brand as a go-to resource long before the buyer decides to make a purchase. This involves producing valuable content, offering insights through various channels, and positioning your company as an industry leader.

  • Leverage Data and Insights: Utilize data analytics to understand buyer behaviors, preferences, and needs. Insights gathered from data can help tailor your marketing efforts, ensuring you reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.

  • Personalize Engagement: Customized experiences resonate more with buyers. Personalization can range from tailored content to bespoke consultations, ensuring that interactions meet the specific needs and interests of each buyer or buying team.

  • Strengthen Digital Presence: In a journey where much of the initial research is done online, a strong digital presence is essential. Ensure your website, social media, and other digital platforms are optimized to attract and engage potential buyers.

  • Focus on Relationship Building: Even in a digital age, personal relationships remain crucial. Strive to build genuine connections through every interaction, whether digital or in-person. Trust and reliability are key factors in a buyer’s decision-making process.

  • Monitor and Adapt: The B2B buying journey is not static. It’s vital to continually monitor trends, feedback, and performance metrics. Be prepared to adapt strategies as the market and buyer behaviors evolve.

Implementing these strategies requires effort and dedication, but the rewards are clear. By engaging buyers early, personalizing the journey, and building strong relationships, vendors can position themselves as the preferred choice in the competitive B2B marketplace.

Wrapping Up: Key Insights on the B2B Buying Journey

Understanding the B2B buying journey is essential for vendors aiming to succeed in today’s market. By recognizing the shift in how buyers engage and adopting strategies to meet their evolving needs, vendors can navigate this journey more effectively.

Early engagement, tailored content, and building genuine relationships are key to influencing buyers’ decisions. As the landscape continues to change, staying informed and adaptable will ensure that your strategies remain effective, helping you to connect with buyers and stand out in the competitive B2B marketplace.

ISBM is a nonprofit, global network of business researchers and practitioners. Ask about how an ISBM Membership can help you now or visit ISBM today to learn more!

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