It’s no secret: Buying has become complicated.
On top of the challenges of virtual selling scenarios, salespeople must contend with ever-larger purchasing teams chock-full of stakeholders with their own agendas. To navigate these murky waters, salespeople are increasingly relying on the concept of buyer enablement — a sales approach that makes it easier than ever for buyers to champion your product so reps can close new business.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive on everything you need to enable your buyers effectively, including:
- What is buyer enablement?
- What are the four types of buyers?
- What are the six stages of the B2B buying process?
- How do you engage a B2B buyer?
- Best practices for effective buyer enablement
What Is Buyer Enablement?
Buyer enablement refers to the idea that salespeople succeed when they empower buyers with the tools and knowledge they need to purchase your product in a timely manner. This includes everything from helping the buyer identify a problem to assisting solution champions as they build consensus with their stakeholders.
Unlike sales enablement, which is the formalized process of providing your sales organization with the content, training, and guidance they need to close deals, buyer enablement is less of a program and more of a mindset. In fact, your sales enablement program should empower your salespeople to enable their buyers.
Ultimately, the goal of adopting buyer enablement practices is to make purchasing dead-simple for your buyers, by whatever means necessary — be it your sales enablement program, your sales methodology, or your sales engagement process.
What Are the Four Types of Buyers?
In general, there are four main buyer archetypes to keep in mind, each of which require a personalized approach to buyer enablement.
The Analytical Buyer
The analytical buyer is moved by data and appreciates the ability to compare and evaluate offerings on their own. They wish to avoid risk and will not respond to an aggressive sales pitch. Enable these buyers by offering them time and information; arm them with datasheets, proof-of-concepts, in-depth demos, and ROI calculators. This will allow them to make an informed decision at their own pace.
The Amiable Buyer
The amiable buyer is easy to engage with but lacks assertiveness. Though they may agree to meetings and demos, they have a hard time championing your product internally and can risk stalling deals. Enable these buyers by building urgency around your solution through thought leadership, whether from your company, analysts, or current customers. This will encourage them to act more decisively and keep your deal moving forward.
The Expressive Buyer
The expressive buyer has a short attention span but is highly responsive when engaged. They are prone to making impulsive decisions and are not interested in the nitty gritty details of your solution. Enable these buyers by keeping interactions short, sweet, and to the point. Ask upfront what you need to close the deal and deliver it. This will capture their attention and keep it long enough to close the deal.
The driver is a hard-to-reach but highly assertive buyer. Expect this buyer to be a tough negotiator with a lot of opinions. They prefer to be in control and will typically “drive” your interactions. Enable this buyer by coming to each engagement prepared and with a specific goal in mind. Stick to the facts and show value customer testimonies and other data-backed content. This will ensure drivers don’t derail engagements.
Keep in mind that large groups of buyers may include stakeholders from several of the above categories. Be prepared to support each one with a personalized approach.
What Are the Six Stages of the B2B Buying Process?
Though every buyer interaction will be unique, in general the B2B buying process can be broken down into six main phases.
- Awareness: During this stage the buyer is aware they have some type of problem, even if they can’t pin it down. Buyers are focused on understanding the market and looking for guidance on how to best solve their problem.
- Consideration: During this stage, buyers have a clear idea of what their problem is and are beginning to understand how your solution might help. Buyers are focused on building our future priorities and needs.
- Interest: Here buyers have reached out to many different vendors to explore solution offerings. At this stage, buyers are looking for detailed information on how your solution supports their needs.
- Preference: Once buyers have heard from all possible vendors, they will determine which solution to move forward with. Buyers are focused on building consensus internally and additional stakeholders may move the deal forward and backwards along this journey until they come to an agreement.
- Validation: During this stage, buyers are confirming their decisions with external validation from community groups or customer references. Buyers are looking for ROI data to support their selection.
- Purchase: In this final stage, buyers are confident in their vendor choice and ready to purchase. Here, they will focus on securing budget and finalizing the deal.
How Do You Engage a B2B Buyer?
The key to effectively engaging B2B buyers is content. With the right content at the right time, you can empower buyers with the information they need to move forward in the buyer’s journey.
How do you know which content to send when? Use our content heatmap template to map your sales asset to your buyer’s journey for a foolproof content strategy.
As for making your content stand out in a sea of emails and LinkedIn messages, invest in building out a robust buyer engagement strategy for your sales team to use. An effective strategy will tell your reps how and when to engage buyers. Use our guide to sales engagement to dive deeper on this topic.
Best Practices for Effective Buyer Enablement
Put Buyer Needs First
Building a buyer enablement mindset starts with asking how you can put the needs of buyers first throughout your entire sales process. Most sales organizations are built to support salespeople, from funneling content requests to marketing to determining which sales support functions you invest in.
However, reframing your perspective to focus not on what sales needs but on what their buyers need will ensure your entire go-to-market function is oriented around meeting — and exceeding — buyer expectations. This way, every action you take to enable sales will, by default, enable your buyers to purchase.
Advise, Don’t Sell
The modern buyer rarely engages with salespeople without having first done their own research. This means that modern sellers exist less to educate buyers on a product and more to guide them through the selection process.
In order for your salespeople to assume the role of trusted advisor, you must empower them with what to know, say, show, and do for any given sales scenario. With clear guidance on how, when, and where to communicate with buyers, reps can effectively build trust with buyers and guide them through the sales process.
Meet Buyers Where They Are
Still enforcing a rigid sales process? It may be time to rethink your approach; enabling buyers to purchase your product also means adapting a flexible sales process that allows buyers to buy the way they want to.
Examine your processes for roadblocks and hoops that make it difficult for a buyer to engage with your business. This could be as simple as refusing to do a product demo on a first call to clunky hand-offs between sales development reps and account executives. Wherever there is friction in your sales process, eliminate it.
Finally, no business can fully enable buyers without being prepared to empower champions. In deals, champions are the buyers who will use your salespeople’s guidance and content to build consensus internally.
Thus, effective buyer enablement requires empowering champions with the tools they need to build a business case for your solution at their company. Many enable champions with “kits” that include high-impact content like case studies, ROI calculators, analyst research — the type of content that will prove the value of your solution. Armed with a champion kit, your buyers can win consensus internally and help you close your deal.
Enabling Buyers to Grow Your Business
By adopting a buyer enablement mindset, you’ll be making it easier than ever for buyers to do business with your company. With the right approach, you can ensure buyers have what they need to purchase your product with confidence.
Dive deeper into the needs of the modern buyer with new research on the changing landscape of B2B sales.