Understanding The Modern B2B Buyer Journey

There’s so much information available online that makes it easy for today’s B2B buyers to research solutions, products, and services without having to contact sales teams. Gartner's research shows that B2B buyers are spending just 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers or sales reps as part of the buying process. And predictions tell us that by 2025, 80% of sales interactions will happen in digital-only channels. 

If buyers are considering multiple potential suppliers in their journey, the time they spend with any one company might be less than 5%. So, the sales strategy for the other 95% of the B2B buyer journey has become even more crucial. If you can’t engage decision makers during the awareness stage and nurture them through the buying journey, you may never get to the consideration stage.

How B2B Buying Has Changed

How B2B buying has changed comes down to one fundamental thing: control. In the old way of B2B selling, the sales team was in control of the process. That’s no longer the case. B2B buyers are using the Internet to do research before ever talking to a salesperson. They’re doing independent research and looking at a variety of options. 

This creates fewer opportunities for your sales team and makes it essential for them to be part of the conversation from the earliest stage of the buyer’s journey. If prospects aren’t finding your messaging in search engine results, seeing it on social media, or learning about your products and services online, you may as well not exist. The case is no different in B2B, where 71% of sales start with a generic search

Will your information be found when they search?

Sixty percent of prospects say they don’t even want to engage with sales team members until after they’ve researched their options. In recent years, this has increasingly become standard practice, making face-to-face meetings harder to get.

Today’s buyer is also highly skeptical of sales and marketing claims. Forrester says it’s one of the key reasons B2B buyers are doing more extensive research. They know a sales rep is going to push a sales agenda. While the product or service may be the best solution, buyers need to convince themselves it’s the right choice.

All of this has resulted in a completely different B2B buying process.

The Dynamic has changed completely. Now, marketers must provide relevant and valuable information and not just veiled sales pitches. That information must answer questions in an authoritative but honest manner, and it must be personalized to be impactful. Because buyers are well-informed, sales teams must be highly transparent and have deep product knowledge. They must also have a strong understanding of their competitors because the modern B2B buyer will already be well-informed on how they stack up. 

Keys to the Modern B2B Buyer

To successfully claim your spot with the modern B2B buyer’s journey, you’ve got to meet buyers where they are and create the content that enables self-guided, buyer-centric journeys. At the same time, you must personalize the pathway and provide relevant content to successfully engage a potential buyer and influence their purchase decision. 

This gets especially challenging as the B2B buyer’s journey continues to become more complex than ever. It no longer travels a linear path from one stage of the sales funnel to the next. If you were to diagram it out, it would look more like spaghetti — moving back and forth across stages in a seemingly meandering pattern that looks slightly different for every B2B customer. 

At the same time, you also have larger buying groups. There may be as many as six to 10 decision makers at B2B companies, and each has slightly different goals. The CEO may be focused on revenue growth, while the CFO is looking for cost reductions, and the division manager is more interested in productivity and efficiency. Tactical marketing team members, meanwhile, will be focused on finding the tools that enable them to build the most effective campaigns.  

What We Can Learn from B2C Sales

While there are still significant differences, B2B purchases are becoming increasingly similar to B2C purchases. To convert customers, both need to provide the content buyers are searching for at the point in time they’re searching for it. Failing to do so puts potential customers at risk of shopping competitors. As such, your marketing strategy must change to provide the right information via digital-only channels and without directly involving sales reps. 

Taking another page from B2C, the B2B process must now focus heavily on the customer experience. Most direct-to-consumer companies focus on the customer experience as much as the product they’re selling. They make the sales process easy and remove any friction in the customer journey.

Friction is a sales killer. Yet, as the modern buyer moves through the B2B marketing process, there’s friction at every stage waiting to derail deals.


This is especially important for Millennial buyers who demand a frictionless experience and expect the same quality of experience from B2B sales that they experience elsewhere in their digital world. Since millennials are now the largest group in the workforce and control 73% of B2B buying decisions, your best practices must focus on a frictionless journey that empowers your prospects.

While B2B buying decisions typically take longer and need approval from a group of stakeholders rather than a single person, in B2C, the sweet spot is the same: finding the pain point or human element that resonates with the buyer and moves them to act. 

RocketWatcher.com explains the process in terms of sales accelerators and friction points. To move buyers from one stage to the next, you have to use online content to overcome objections.

To be successful, B2B marketers and marketing teams must reduce the friction. And they can do that by providing the right information, at the right time, in the right format to their target buyer. When the information they find online helps to ease their concerns and mitigate their risk, they’re 2.8 times more likely to be satisfied with the ease of purchase and three times less likely to regret purchase decisions.

Marketing teams also need to focus on creating consensus across modern B2B buying teams. This means generic content marketing using online content must be personalized to different members of the buying group to provide the information they need. For example, you may need a case study showing how a solution generated revenue growth for one buying group member, and a case study showing how a solution streamlined operations to improve productivity for another.

That’s where account-based marketing (ABM) can be used as a potent tool to personalize at scale and shape the buyer experience. In a survey conducted in partnership with Demand Gen Report, 99% of the marketers surveyed said personalization of content and messaging was pivotal to their success

Reaching B2B Buyers

While the B2B sales funnel may still look the same today as it did a decade ago, the path to get through the funnel looks much different. This new, non-linear path mandates B2B marketers to create support material for each stage and recognize that purchasing stakeholders will move back and forth between stages, and will also be at different stages at the same time.

That’s why it’s critical for marketing campaigns and sales teams to be completely aligned. There’s virtually no handoff between marketing and sales today, and that means teams must work in parallel across the entire buyer’s journey.

High-performing sales teams know that alignment is one of the foundational components of successful B2B marketing in today’s environment. Eighty-seven percent of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration is what enables revenue growth.

Organizations that tightly align marketing and sales have 38% higher win rates, are 67% better at closing deals, and benefit from renewal rates that are one-third higher than their competitors.

Optimizing the B2B Buyer’s Journey

Folloze helps B2B marketers create truly personalized and engaging buyer journeys with tools that make it easy to create highly scalable campaigns. With a deep understanding of the modern B2B buyer, Folloze simplifies complex marketing problems.

To learn more about how we can help you personalize at scale and optimize the B2B buyer journey, contact Folloze today and request a demo.