Purchase Decision Process: Identify Intent Signals to Close More Sales

Lena M.
5 min read
06.12.2023 13:22:00

B2B companies that know the customer journey (buyer journey) of their prospective buyers in detail and accompany them on this journey in the best possible way can look forward to more sales. 

The customer journey often takes a little longer, especially in the B2B sector, and those who don't accompany their customers every step of the way will suffer significant losses.

To prevent this from happening to you, I will show you below what you should pay attention to in the buyer journey and how you can make the purchasing process as efficient as possible.

Special Features of a B2B Purchase Decision

The purchasing decision process in B2B sales differs significantly from the purchasing decision in the consumer sector:

  1. More complex products: B2B companies offer more complex products that require detailed explanations. The decision on whether to use a product or service often takes months.

  2. Purchase decision is made by a manager: Due to the high order value, the purchase decision is usually made by the management itself, by the head of purchasing or by a group of people, the buying center. The decision is preceded by various preparatory measures such as obtaining information on the product and checking the other suppliers.

  3. Sales often have a high value: the high value of orders in the B2B sector means that identifying willingness to buy is a key component for success. Various preparatory measures such as gathering product information and checking competitors are crucial to understanding ready-to-buy leads and confirming their buyer intent.

  4. Concluding the purchase takes a lot of time: The purchase of the B2B product is not based on impulse but on purely rational considerations: The product should guarantee business success. Sales employees must therefore not only demonstrate patience and negotiating skills but also recognize and use intent signals in a targeted manner.

  5. Incorrect information leads to high losses: B2B buyers have extensive technical knowledge and quickly recognize incorrect information, which distinguishes B2B from B2C sales.

  6. Personal customer contact is essential: Personal contact also plays a greater role in the B2B sector, although customer expectations are becoming increasingly similar to B2C processes. The advantage of this is that close customer contact also makes it easier for you to identify the willingness to buy, as you receive intent signals directly through direct customer contact. 

Digitalization and the Purchasing Decision Process

Rapidly advancing digitalization is making life easier and more manageable for many people. Of course, companies are also benefiting from the digital transformation. They can use online marketing to reach specific target groups and thus simplify and accelerate the sales process with the help of digital technologies.

They also receive valuable information about their potential customers. When used correctly, customer journey management improves the entire customer relationship.

Nevertheless, there are areas in B2B sales where personal involvement is required.

You can achieve the best possible sales results by combining technological and human resources.

As a B2B company, you now encounter buyers who are better informed about products than in the past. They use the internet and have higher expectations of B2B sellers. Furthermore, the number of possible points of contact with a customer increases with each new channel.

To avoid getting lost in the chaos of available channels, a B2B company must be able to understand its customers' purchasing decision process precisely and actively shape the customer journey.

  • When is the right time for personal contact?
  • What information should the customer be able to obtain easily on your website?

  • What information is the customer looking for and when?

The answers to these and other questions are summarized in a customer journey map.

The Phases in the Purchasing Decision Process

In times of digitalization, you can only stand out from the competition as a B2B company if you offer a customer journey that is tailored to your customers' needs. 

The purchase decision process in the B2B sector comprises several phases in which companies have to lead ready-to-buy leads to purchase through targeted interactions. These phases are:

  • Attract (Interest),
  • Engage (Research),

  • and Convert (Sale).

In each of these phases, you have various points of contact (touchpoints) with your customers.

You now need to identify the most important touchpoints and combine them into a coherent customer journey.

Attract (Attract Leads That Are Ready to Buy)

In this first phase, the prospective buyer realizes that he is facing a problem. He knows that he needs a specific machine, product or service to increase his operational output.

However, they do not yet know what kind of solution will solve their problem and exactly how it works. Accordingly, he is not yet interested in specific companies or products, but in general methods and solutions.

To find out more, he googles. They visit informative websites and read blog articles, instructions, white papers, and studies that solve a similar problem.

For your company, this means that you need to identify the willingness to buy at this point and offer informative content that picks up on the initial intent signals of the prospective customer. 

Engage (Strengthen Buyer Intent)

The potential buyer now knows what the right solution to their problem is.

In this phase, it is crucial to strengthen buyer intent with in-depth content and to further qualify leads who are ready to buy.

In contrast to the Attract phase, they are no longer looking for superficial content, but detailed information that expands their expertise.

They continue to google and search for specific case studies, reviews and studies that cover their criteria catalog and show similar procedures and their probability of success.

For your company, this means providing content such as studies, videos, webinars, or other content that shows a specific starting point and a clear path to a solution.

Again, this is not about highlighting products or your company, but the selected solution approach itself.

Convert (Closing Sale)

Now the time has come. The prospective buyer has already gathered plenty of information about what kind of solution is suitable for him and what open questions still need to be clarified.

To clarify his final questions, he searches for product- and company-specific FAQs, pricing models, and concrete procedures.

Once they have gathered enough information, they are ready for an initial personal contact. They contact you via an appropriate contact form, email or telephone for a consultation or an initial product demonstration.

For your company, this means: offering the user the opportunity to gather information as independently as possible before making initial contact. You should also offer various options for making contact in order to meet personal preferences.

Conclusion: Identify Buyer Intent Signals and Turn Leads into Paying Customers

A precise understanding of the customer journey helps you to recognize the ever-changing needs throughout the customer journey. It is also important to identify intent signals to offer customers the product at the right moment.

Dividing the purchase decision process into different phases makes it easier to understand these needs.

If you know what the prospective buyer needs you can easily create the right content and touchpoints. This allows you to actively guide the prospective buyer through the customer journey and offer them exactly the content that meets their current needs at each stage.

This creates a relationship long before the first consultation has taken place and the user knows your company.

With the right content in each customer journey phase, the customer feels they are in good hands with you and you can make the decision-making process easier for them and close sales more efficiently.