2019 trends in the BtoB path to purchase

BtoB path to purchase
May 9th, 2019
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An article recently published in ACTIONCO.fr provides a step-by-step guide to the path to purchase with the advent of digital technologies. Some practices have changed, starting with digitised transactions: 61% of buyers claim that they purchase online, especially for order amounts less than €5,000.

Another widespread change is that buyers tend to look for information on the web or seek recommendations from peers on forums or social networking sites. But traditional channels are putting up a good fight. Buyers still look for the human factor at each step in the path to purchase. "Combination" is the main lesson to be learned from the article, i.e. combined channels, combined messages and combined content. Digital technologies are diversifying rather than replacing practices, and they bring a feeling of instantaneity.

1. I discover

The trend during the discovery phase is an all-encompassing intelligence exercise. To be sure that they have access to the essential innovation without the slightest delay, 2019 buyers scour a wide range of information sources.

Regardless of their usual purchasing methods (online or otherwise), BtoB buyers mainly rely on trade shows and word of mouth to discover new products or services. Human relations are invaluable for qualifying needs and identifying the most appropriate offerings.

Subsequently purchasers place their trust in published content. Paper prospectuses and catalogues are a popular source of inspiration, since they can be read whenever convenient. Online suggestions, email campaigns, newsletters and social networks are extending the bounds of possibilities. Digital sources are interactive, annotated and illustrated, thereby offering buyers an unlimited gold mine of information.

2. I keep up-to-date

All BtoB buyers place their trust in professional information sites to back up their initial impressions. They find an objective evaluation of the products and services selected during the discovery phase as well as useful feedback.

Buyers who typically prefer purchasing online will add informal digital networks, blogs and social networking sites, as well as marketplaces and e-commerce sites. Online dialogue can either confirm or invalidate their intuitions with a line of questioning that can be highly detailed and fully personalised.

Buyers who continue to be loyal to traditional channels for their purchases will tend to complete their information by reading the trade press. There may not be any scope for interaction, but trade publications have the advantage that they can be read at any time and picked up as often as necessary.

Nothing obviously prevents buyers from reading both digital and paper publications!

3. I compare

The third step in the path to purchase is a divisive one for BtoB buyers.

Digital buyers tend to trust the online comparisons seen on specialised sites or in various studies.

However, buyers who claim that they rarely or never purchase online will seek out a human contact person. The experience of their colleagues and peers plays a decisive role in building their decision to purchase.

4. I decide

When it comes to BtoB purchases, transformation and the ensuing sales relationship are ultimately content-driven. Buyers need to know what they are dealing with before signing on the dotted line. They are especially mindful of the wide range of inputs and the variety of spokespersons involved when making their final decision. References, testimonials, real-life cases and figures are especially coveted during the fourth step in the path to purchase.

Digital technologies have developed the ability of BtoB buyers to obtain exhaustive information. Reviews and feedback from real people give this unlimited aspect the possibility of a real simulation, which is a welcome addition when the time comes to choosing.


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