Why is there no Single Buyer's Journey in the B2B Sales Pipeline?

Any successful B2B sales pipeline needs to take into consideration the three distinct buying scenarios.

Picture of Matt Duxbury Matt Duxbury

Published: 02 Sep 2015

2 minutes read

Why is there no Single Buyer's Journey in the B2B Sales Pipeline?

The buyer is in control of the B2B sales pipeline. In fact, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now performed online, as opposed to talking to a sales person. While a B2B sales pipeline in most instances has the same end goal of conversion, there are several factors that may influence and shape an individual’s purchasing decision. In fact, analysts Jennifer Ross and Marisa Kopec argued that there are three distinct buying scenarios at the recent SiriusDecisions Summit - a single buyer’s journey doesn’t exist.

The independent buying scenario

Arguably, this scenario is the easiest and quickest sell. Firstly, this buyer doesn’t have a committee or senior team members to answer to. As a result, the purchasing decision for this buyer is a lot simpler. They don’t need to think about other colleagues’ pain points, or gain approval from senior team members. 

Secondly, the purchase price is most likely around $50,000 (£32,600) or less. As this purchase is at the lower end of the scale (at least for complex B2B products such as SaaS), cost implications and perceived risk isn’t as much of a concern. 

As the buyer has less external factors influencing their purchase decision, a deal is usually closed in a matter of days or weeks. The independent buyer require minimal nurturing, so B2B content marketing that leads straight to the bottom of your sales funnel, such as offers of a free trial or consultation, will often resonate with their transactional nature. 

The committee buying scenario

The sales pipeline for this scenario is phased, hierarchical, tiered and requires a greater financial investment (usually over the £500,000 mark). 

Typically, this buyer will work within a large organisation and won’t have the authority to make a purchasing decision - this will ultimately rest with the CEO of the company, after being approved by other senior board members. However, the CEO still has the added stress of answering to directors and stakeholders. Due to this, the decision process will rely a lot on research, taking into account cost, risk, ROI and impact on business performance. 

In this buying scenario, potential prospects need more nurturing before they are ready to buy, with a deal typically taking six months to close. Before they are confident enough to invest in your company, these prospects need to be supplied with content that positions your service as a solution to their top line problems, and clears any reservations that they may have. 

The consensus buying scenario

This scenario is the most common in the B2B sales pipeline. The purchasing decision in this instance lies with a group of people or the managers of internal teams. 

Harvard Business School discovered that on average, 5.4 people have to formally sign off on each purchase. Purchasing decisions can therefore become very complicated. Each team, be it finance, marketing, HR and so on, all have very different goals and pain points. In order to resonate with all of these different decision makers, suppliers must successfully bridge the differences and offer significant value to every team member involved in the decision making process. 

To achieve this, marketing should offer a shared perspective around a problem and a solution.

Adapt content for different buyer scenarios

How should these different buyer scenarios impact your marketing activity? It’s clear to see that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used. This is why buyer personas are so important in a B2B sales pipeline. A buyer persona is simply a semi-fictional representation of a typical customer, encompassing their individual pain points, goals, behaviours and job role. You may have identified that you have more than one persona who also fit into different buyer scenarios. Specific content that appeals to all of these personas on an individual basis needs to be implemented.

For example, a persona who falls into the independent buying scenario will respond better to case studies, solution comparison guides and other bottom of the funnel content. On the other hand, a persona who fits into the committee buying scenario will require more considered nurturing, and application of the awareness-consideration-decision buying process. Content should refrain from being too promotional and should instead educate this specific persona, helping them to solve their business problems, while presenting your service as a solution. 

To summarise, by implementing buyer personas, you can effectively relate to customers on a human level, through offering relevant and targeted content. 

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