Identifying decision makers in the B2B customer journey

Laura Britten

Head of Marketing

B2B Marketing

A key difference between B2C and B2B marketing is the number of decision-makers involved in the sales process.

Arguably the B2C customer journey has become more complex over the years, but typically, there is still just one or two people involved in the decision making process about the product or service. In contrast, B2B sales can involve up to five decision-makers, each with their own areas of expertise and becoming involved at different stages of the sales funnel.

Understanding the decision-makers that are likely to be involved in the buying process for your product or service is key to creating an effective digital marketing strategy. So, B2B businesses need to tailor their content and messages to multiple decision-makers at any given stage of the sales funnel, so everyone can access the information they need.

Why are multiple decision-makers involved in the B2B buying process?


Typically more decision-makers are involved depending on how strategic or expensive a purchase is. Most business purchases affect multiple teams and areas in a company, take for example a piece of software. There may be the people:

  • Using the software day to day, whose priority is to ensure it can improve their ability to do their jobs
  • In charge of those using the software, who want to make sure it improves the efficiency and quality of work
  • Who want to ensure the cost of the software does not run over budget
  • On the board of directors who want there to be an ROI from purchasing in the software


Identifying decision-makers involved in your business


The person in charge of making decision purchases for a business varies depending on the purchase cost and the strategic importance a purchase has.


Purchase cost

Low-cost purchases (less than 5% of annual budget) usually require less higher-level input, meaning these costs can be signed off without directors or the board having a final say.


Strategic importance

Low strategic importance (e.g. it doesn’t impact the ability for work to be carried out) again requires less higher-level input, whereas high strategic purchases will require the relevant higher management to sign off.

High spend, low strategic importance


High spend, low strategic importance purchases normally have two to three decision-makers involved, with specialist-staff or management conducting research and middle management signing off budget.


How to help the customer journey


While the product itself is not of big value, the cost of these purchases can make a significant impact on budgets, so to entice people in highlight financial USPs on meta descriptions, landing pages and ad copy.

Low spend, low strategic importance


Usually, someone in a supporting role is a sole decision-maker for these types of purchases. Management may be involved for final budget sign off, but not at the research stage.


How to help the customer journey


Typically, there is little time dedicated to low spend, low strategic purchases. So make the customer journey as quick and easy as possible; logical site navigation, a search bar, and a straightforward checkout process make purchases quicker for decision-maker. Onsite content, metadata and ad messaging should focus on the efficiency of delivery, as these purchases are often left to the last minute once supplies have run out.

High spend, high strategic importance


Management, middle management, senior executive management and specialist-staff are all involved in high spend, high strategic purchases. There can be as many as six people (depending on the size of the company) involved in decision making for these purchases.


How to help the customer journey


These kinds of purchases are financial and strategic investments, so you need to sell the benefits of the product and value of the brand as a long-term partner.

You will need plenty of in-depth on-site content to position your brand as an industry leader and distinguish your products from competitors, including:

  • Service pages which highlight the product’s benefits and USPs
  • ‘About us’ pages highlighting the company’s experience and expertise
  • Informational onsite content
  • Downloadable expert content

Your digital strategy needs to cover content at all stages of the sales funnel to target all levels of management involved.

Low spend, high strategic importance


There are two to three decision-makers involved in low spend, high strategic purchases: technical or specialist staff, management and middle management.


How to help the customer journey


The key to making this sale is to differentiate your product. Website content, ad copy and meta descriptions should focus on your USPs, the quality of the product or service, and the expertise, reliability and trustworthiness of your brand. Having a content strategy that includes thought leadership or service and product pages detailing the offering is useful here.

Once you have identified the decision makers for your particular product or service, you need to create detailed personas using analytics, CRM and social media audience insights. These personas will help understand more about who your customer is, what content they want to see, and where they are likely to see, all huge factors in shaping the B2B customer journey.

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