Marketing products to other businesses requires special strategies. The goals are not just making sales, but building relationships, trust, and advocacy too. This article explains the ‘B2B marketing funnel,’ which represents the customer journey that leads business clients from initial product awareness to becoming loyal supporters.
Stages of the B2B buying journey
The B2B customer path has 5 main stages:
- Learn about the product/solution.
- Identify how it can help your business needs.
- Realize it might solve organizational problems.
- Research what value it offers.
- See how it could be useful for your operations.
- Compare it to other options.
- Analyze if it fits your detailed requirements.
- Check performance claims with evidence.
- Test technical capabilities with demos and trials.
- Confirm deployment effort and total cost.
- Make sure ROI and TCO are favorable.
- Check if it’s secure, reliable, and scalable.
- Talk to existing customers.
- Approve the purchase and plan deployment.
- Publicly vouch for the solution’s impact.
- Be a reference for potential customers.
- Highlight your partnership in your content.
- Renew your license commitments over multiple years.
Partnering with a specialized B2B marketing agency can enhance the effectiveness of these tactics, ensuring a targeted and impactful approach at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Comprehending this entire funnel helps marketers in developing strategies that guide commercial buyers through each phase.
Tailoring Marketing Strategies to Each Funnel Stage
A “marketing funnel” guides companies from not knowing about a product to buying it to telling friends. Various tactics aid in guiding business customers through this buyer’s journey in five phases.
First businesses must discover solutions exist to help them. Useful awareness-building tools include website pages explaining the products, articles discussing related issues companies face, search ads linking to helpful content, and trade show booth displays demonstrating the offerings live. Statistics show that 68% of the buyer’s journey occurs digitally before sales team contact nowadays.
Next marketers want businesses to gain initial interest in considering new solutions for their needs. This involves product webinars showcasing capabilities for problems they share, free trial sign-up offers granting limited access to try, and online business readiness quizzes helping quantify potential benefits. On average, companies download 5-7 educational assets from providers before engaging further.
Later serious product evaluations happen by the purchasing committee weighing alternatives. Helpful tactics here include on-demand video demos to see systems operating, deep-dive analyst reports examining strengths, focused white papers detailing security and compliance capabilities, and guided product tours introducing user interfaces. 79% of buyers say demos markedly improve vendor understanding.
Eventually, final purchase decisions occur pending aligned solutions with budget resources now educated on provider offerings in detail. Tactics aiding decisions feature network proof-of-concept testing to validate compatibility, custom price proposals aligned with individual needs, specific capability certifications affirming safe operation, and dedicated account representatives guiding seamlessly through decisions between groups statistically shortening sales cycles by over 50%.
Finally, after purchase, advocacy activities reinforce loyalty and gain referrals. Helpful efforts involve published case studies featuring clients by name reinforcing credibility, online user communities facilitating peer connections, loyalty incentive programs rewarding ongoing utilization, and net promoter scoring systems quantifying business customer enthusiasm or detractor levels. 72% of businesses recommend partners meet expected performance.
Encouraging Decision Makers to Try Your Product
In addition to sharing information, marketing wants to convince important decision-makers to actually try your product themselves. Free trials are like open doors, letting companies experience your product before deciding.
Offer easy-to-use trials that highlight important features solving their business problems. Make signing up easy, with no need for a credit card or commitments. Allow enough access during the trial so they can see how it fits their needs. Guide them through key uses and let them talk to experts. Subsequently, engage in a conversation with them to assess how well it worked for their needs. Make it easy for them to see the good things about your product.
Building Lasting Business Relationships
Marketing doesn’t stop when the sale is done. It’s about keeping a good relationship going. This means turning customers into partners, giving them ongoing value, and listening to what they need.
Ask customers what they think to improve the product over time. Let them talk to each other to share good ideas. Show off long-term customers as success stories. The best marketing is when happy customers tell others. This happens when they feel heard, supported, and rewarded. Keeping customers happy is more than just selling to them; it’s about building a good relationship.
Connecting with All People Involved in Buying Decisions
Selling to companies means reaching every person part of decides to buy something, not just one manager. For expensive purchases, a buying committee of multiple people might review options and provide input first. Then senior executives approve the final purchase decision based on criteria most important to them like costs, risks, and strategic benefits. Getting buy-in from both user groups and final budget authorities increases commitment across an organization.
Learning all the roles in the buying steps for a certain product helps target messages better. Content can be tailored to each group’s top interests depending on what matters most to their role. With tech purchases, focus info for final deciders more on safety and reliability. However, share practical usage details more with the user admins who handle it daily.
While buyer personas help frame overall needs, finding the real people in each buying role allows outreach to be more personalized, not generic blasts. Reaching more people involved increases the chances of demonstrating value from multiple perspectives to secure their buy-in.
Selling Ongoing Value Over Single Sales
Selling to companies aims to build partnerships beyond one-time orders into long relationships. Success over the years ties to lower risks, better uptime, and improved abilities – not just sales. Offerings should keep gaining new benefits, not stay stale, so clients don’t outgrow them.
Loyalty programs reward using products often, tracking satisfaction. But listening to users also spots annoyances to fix, keeping clients happy. Selling ongoing value means becoming indispensable to daily operations rather than pursuing short-term gains at the expense of lasting relationships. Loyalty wins in B2B.
Standing Out with Relevance and Expert Views
Gaining attention in B2B marketing requires sharing practical expert views without unnecessary content, considering the busy schedules of clients. Skipping hype but conveying how you pragmatically solve current struggles seen by research builds credibility.
Personalized data illuminating costly problems connects offerings to real outcomes. Pair with cost-saving estimates for added appeal over generic claims alone. Expert relevance tailored to each client quickly resonates over blasting the masses.
Precisely Measuring Performance
Marketers constantly work to move buyers through each sales funnel stage smoothly. Besides just final sales, tracking brand awareness, content use, and community interactions measures engagement too. Review both concrete numbers and user feedback assessing what marketing works and what needs change.
Each product owner might want specific metrics for goals such as sparking interest, accelerating trials, or increasing referrals. Agreeing on the best gauges of progress for each B2B situation keeps all focused on truly meaningful targets relevant to that client. Precisely tracking performance enables better optimization.
What is B2B marketing?
B2B marketing helps companies make friends with other businesses. It’s like a plan to guide them from strangers to being great partners through special messages.
Why is the marketing funnel important?
The marketing funnel is like a map. It helps us know how to make companies our friends step by step, starting from saying hello to becoming strong partners.
What does “awareness” mean in marketing?
“Awareness” is when companies first know about each other. It’s like waving hello and saying, “Hey, we’re here!”
How does marketing build trust?
Marketing builds trust by being a good friend. It shares helpful messages, answers questions, and shows that we care. That way, companies want to be friends for a long time.
What is advocacy in B2B marketing?
Advocacy means being best friends on steroids. Companies love each other so much that they enthusiastically endorse their friend to everyone, essentially saying, ‘You should be friends too!
The B2B marketing funnel provides a model for orchestrating how companies are strategically nurtured from strangers to supportive customers via tailored outreach. Maintaining awareness of every evolving phase in the relationship journey enables marketing groups to steadily develop affinity and trust leading to sales with lasting enterprise partners.