Two types of buyers now dominate the B2B buying world. Sales managers should deploy the sales enablement strategy described in this article so that their sellers can successfully sell to both. We’ll start by using the research-based model that defines how B2B buyers buy. Using this model we’ll describe the different categories of buyers that have emerged based on their distinctly different buying needs, along with the resulting distinctly different relationships each needs to have with sellers. We’ll then show you the new sales strategy needed to empower your sellers to successfully sell to both.

Five-Stage B2B Buying Model

Model on How Buyers Buy

Referring to the figure above, here’s a summary view of the model. Note that the Y-axis defines the Buyer’s level of concern for key things like the solution, value and risk, while the X-axis represents the time for the Buy Cycle. Also note that buyers buy in five stages. In stage 1, although the buyers recognize they have an issue, at that point in time they don’t work to resolve it. There are a number of reasons why this occurs, but that’s the subject of another webinar. In stage 2, the buyers analyze their problem and develop a solution.  Then, in stage 3, the buyers determine the return they can expect if they proceed, and likely develop an implementation plan.   Stage 4 is dominated by risk. If they buyer is confident that they have found a provider that will fulfill their vision and do it at their desired ROI, then they will go forward.   Finally, in stage 5 the buyers’ attentions turn to the actual implementation

How Seller-Educated B2B Buyers Buy

How “Seller-Educated Buyers” Buy

With that model in mind, lets identify the two categories of buyer. We’ll refer to the first category as Seller-Educated buyers. In the past, this was the dominant buyer type and, as you’ll see, it still comprises a pretty large portion of B2B buyers. And, although these buyers certainly understood their business, they generally did not know how our solutions could help. This meant that we found a buyer’s pain and turned it into the vision of a solution, then proved our capabilities.     We then helped them determine the anticipated ROI.     And if we did a great job, we were able to mitigate their risk and they moved forward with us.   The sales process just described was originally pioneered by Mike Bosworth, the founder of Solution Selling®. We call these buyers Seller-Educated Buyers because they needed to work with a sales person, whom they generally depended on very early in the buying process to help them better understand their needs.

Mike Bosworth

Mike Bosworth

Founder, Solution Selling®

How “Internet-Educated Buyers” Buy

However, there’s emerged another category of B2B buyer whom we call the   “Internet Educated Buyer” because – and this is primarily due to the information readily available on the internet and social media – they educate themselves to the point where they go through the 3 most important stages of their decision making process without a sales person! In this case, the Challenger™ organization originally identified these buyers.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for part 2 of this post, which will be published next week, where we will explore the strategy sellers should utilize with each category of buyer, how to ddetermine which category your buyer is in, and the sales approach sellers should take with each.