The internet and the rise of digital technology in recent years have drastically changed sales cycles and buyer behavior in general.
With any information being more available to anyone, consumers are more autonomous in their buying journeys, with 77% of B2B buyers conducting a minimum of three hours of research before even engaging with sales reps.
Why is this important?
Because now there’s a new barrier between the salesperson and the customer. It doesn’t matter how good of a seller you are — your buyer’s journey starts before you even get a chance to make your pitch.
The solution to bridge that gap is buyer enablement.
In this blog post, we'll explore the role of buyer enablement, how your team should approach it, and some examples to equip you with all the necessary information to tackle the demands of today’s market.
Understanding buyer enablement
Research suggests that 95% of modern buyers actually prefer companies that provide content throughout each stage of the B2B buying process.
So, resources and information are not a nice-to-have for your customers anymore — they are a big deciding factor in their purchase decisions that they’re actively seeking out.
This makes buyer enablement a must if you’re looking to survive in today’s competitive market.
But what exactly is buyer enablement?
The definition of buyer enablement
Buyer enablement is a strategic approach in sales and marketing that focuses on empowering potential buyers with the information, tools, and resources they need throughout their purchasing journey.
The goal is to facilitate and enhance the buyer's decision-making process, making it easier for them to understand the product or service being offered, evaluate their options, and ultimately make a well-informed purchase through strategic usage of dedicated resources and tools.
Sales enablement vs buyer enablement
You might be wondering how buyer enablement differs from sales enablement. We can look at them from 3 perspectives.
Audience: The target of sales enablement is the salespeople and the sales process in your organization, while the audience of buyer enablement is buyers themselves, therefore having a more customer-centric approach.
Focus: The main objective of sales enablement is improving internal sales processes, and helping salespeople become better sellers by arming them with the necessary training, materials, and tools that they need.
The goal of buyer enablement, on the other hand, is to provide potential customers with helpful content and materials that enable informed decision-making. This in turn helps you build better relationships with buyers and establish trust, which attracts customers to your business.
Timeframe: While sales enablement is only concerned with the actual sales process itself, buyer enablement has a wider timeframe, covering your customers’ entire buying journey, from awareness to post-sale.
While sales enablement can be considered as the more traditional approach, buyer enablement has been becoming more and more significant for businesses’ success in recent years due to the’ shift in customer behavior we’ve mentioned earlier.
The role of buyer enablement in complex selling
In the context of complex B2B selling, that can involve multiple stakeholders and a more extended decision-making process, buyer enablement becomes particularly crucial.
- In complex B2B deals, decisions are rarely made by a single individual. Various stakeholders, such as executives, managers, end-users, and procurement professionals, may all play a role in the decision-making process. Buyer enablement recognizes the need to address the diverse needs and concerns of these stakeholders, tailoring content and resources to resonate with different audience segments.
- B2B purchases typically involve a more extended decision-making timeline compared to B2C transactions. This extended purchasing process is often due to the need for thorough evaluation, budget considerations, and internal alignment. Buyer enablement acknowledges this prolonged decision cycle and aims to provide consistent support and information at each stage, ensuring that the buyer has what they need when they need it.
- The buyer's journey in complex B2B sales is not linear; it involves various stages, such as problem identification, solution exploration, vendor selection, and negotiation. Buyer enablement strategies involve creating and delivering content that is specifically tailored to address the unique challenges and requirements of each stage, ensuring that the buyer is well-informed at every step.
- Building strong, trust-based relationships is crucial in B2B sales. This involves not only understanding the needs of the organization but also establishing rapport with individual stakeholders. Buyer enablement emphasizes the importance of communication and collaboration, fostering a relationship-oriented approach to selling.
- Complex B2B purchases often involve a higher level of perceived risk, both in terms of financial investment and potential impact on the organization. Buyer enablement strategies include addressing and mitigating these concerns by providing data, case studies, and other resources that demonstrate the value and reliability of the product or service.
Why should you prioritize buyer enablement?
With so many options available out there, they are anxious to make the best choice. By being fully transparent and offering them lots of information and resources, not just about your business but also about the industry, you become a source of value before they even purchase your product.
Providing all this information for them also establishes your authority and credibility in your industry, elevates your profile, and builds trust. Ultimately, your goal should be to help your buyers overcome the obstacles in their purchasing journey, which adds to your competitive advantage.
How to build a buyer enablement strategy
A buyer enablement strategy is not merely a set of resources or tools. From understanding your target audience and buyer personas to creating and delivering personalized content at every stage of the buyer's journey, let's explore the key steps to building a successful buyer enablement framework.
1. Get to know your prospective buyers
Since buyer enablement is all about helping your buyers, your first step is to understand their challenges, pains, needs, and preferences very well. This will form the backbone of your buyer enablement strategy.
A good place to start is to analyze individual buyer behaviors throughout their purchase journey:
- What kind of questions do your customers ask most frequently?
- What type of materials or documents do they always ask from your team when making a decision?
- What are the challenges and grievances they express almost unanimously?
- What kind of information do they choose to consume, and on which platforms do they spend their most time?
Getting valuable insights into where your customers’ minds are at, what their preferences are, and most importantly, what they struggle the most with when making a purchase decision will help you provide them with more relevant information.
💡 Tip: It is a great idea to hold brainstorming sessions across all customer-facing teams to get a more holistic perspective on your customers’ entire buying journey.
2. Create relevant content
After you’ve fully understood what challenges different types of buyers the most during their buying journey, it’s all about providing them with relevant information and content to help them at the right time.
Your choice of content types and formats should depend on the type of buyer you're targeting and their preferences. In one industry, customers might value security more and demand to see privacy policies or certifications, in another, the conversations can always come back to the pricing sheet. While one type of buyer might spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, others may be avid readers of email newsletters.
Some of the common buyer enablement content examples are:
- Quizzes and interactive assessments will be handy for buyers in the awareness stage, helping them understand their problems and needs.
- White papers and in-depth guides that cover relevant topics and trends in the industry will build your authority and trust in your brand.
- Events and webinars featuring industry experts and thought leaders will create buzz, and short video excerpts from them will be easy to consume.
- Success stories highlighting your existing customers’ experience will resonate with buyers who have the same challenges.
- Blog posts with helpful information will nurture your audience and support the decision-making process.
- Product demos can help buyers better understand how your solution can solve their problems and create anticipation.
3. Make the content accessible and digestible
Before you dive into content creation, it’s important to take a step back and take into account what format would work best to highlight each material, and what medium of delivery works best with your specific audience and buyer type.
For example, a comparison of your solution with your competitor would be presented best as a one-pager with lots of visuals, while a tour of your platform and how it works would be more digestible and easy to follow in a short video.
There’s no point in investing in helpful materials if they are not accessible to your buyers throughout their buying journey. Ensure that the resources you worked so hard on are within your customers’ reach and that they’re easily digestible.
Flowla can be a useful asset in achieving this. You can embed any kind of valuable content into a flow, whether it's product demos, PDF files, blog articles, Google Slides, or your website’s resources page.
Your customers will consume the content step-by-step and you can hide certain stages or steps to make them visible later on when they’re more relevant for a smooth and personalized buying experience. What's more, you can also get valuable insights into how each prospective customer interacts with your content.
You can discover Flowla for free here.
4. Invest in team training and development
In a buyer enablement strategy for complex B2B selling, investing in training is key. It ensures sales teams have the skills needed for effective engagement. This involves:
- Product knowledge: Cover all aspects of products or services and provide regular updates on new product features or capabilities.
- Industry insight: Train on industry trends, market dynamics, and emerging technologies so they can proactively advise and help your buyers in their purchasing journey.
- Communication strategies: Emphasize understanding different stakeholders, adapting communication, and being customer-centric. Effective communication with different types of buyers is a crucial skill in B2B selling.
- Digital proficiency: Ensure teams are adept at using CRM systems, sales enablement tools, virtual collaboration software, etc.
By prioritizing these aspects in training, sales teams become well-equipped to navigate the complexities of B2B selling successfully.
5. Continuously improve & adapt
Sales is an ever-changing landscape, so your customers’ needs, preferences, and challenges will eventually shift and evolve over time. It’s crucial that you’re always keeping an eye out for what’s going on in your industry, and adjusting your buyer enablement strategy accordingly.
It will also help to regularly check in with your whole team from all departments, and foster a culture of collaboration where you’re always sharing ideas on how to improve your buyer enablement process.
Seeking your customers’ feedback on how you can improve, and asking them what kind of content or information they would like to see will be just as important in guiding you.
As organizations navigate the dynamic B2B landscape, the ability to adapt, communicate effectively, and understand the evolving needs of buyers becomes paramount. A successful buyer enablement strategy not only streamlines the buying process but also establishes enduring partnerships with potential customers.