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El proceso de compra

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The Buying Process
B2B Buying Process

You are probably familiar with buying as a consumer. The buying process outlines the process that the B2B customer goes through when he is making a purchasing decision on behalf of the company.

This process applies whether the buying decision is being made by an individual or by a buying center.

The buyer recognizes that there is a need for the product or service. [1] In the B2B environment, this might occur because of an internal need (e.g., the company needs more office space) or because of a customer need.

It is important to engage your customer in dialogue to understand their current and future needs. Sometimes, you can help your customer see an opportunity that he didn’t realize.

Usually involves users as well as initiators to put more definition around the type of product or service that will help meet the need. [2]

For example, in the case of office space, the head of facilities would ask the head of human resources about the types of new positions that will be needed and the type of workspace each requires.

The specific client needs are outlined. [3]

For example, if Target identified the need to create its own brand of DVD player, the appropriate people in the company would determine the exact specifications of the product: what functions it will have, how large it will be, what materials it will be made of, how many colors will be offered, and all other attributes of the product.

The focus is on searching for potential suppliers. This research can be conducted online by doing a Google search for suppliers of the desired product or service. [4]

Trade associations are also an excellent source as many provide unbiased evaluations of suppliers; for example:

Forrester Research publishes a report on Web site analytic tools.

When the buyer or buying center develops a formal request for proposal, often called an RFP, and she identifies potential vendors that could produce the product. [5]

For example, if Home Depot decided that it wanted to upgrade its bags, the buyer would have determined the specification and put the information into a formal document that is sent to several bag manufacturers. Each manufacturer would have the opportunity to respond to the RFP with a formal proposal.

Usually, salespeople from each of the chosen companies are invited to meet with the buyer or buying center to review the proposal, capabilities, and pricing. Negotiation for pricing, quality, timing, service, and other attributes may also take place. [6]

This is where a salesperson may need to overcome objections, or the reasons why the customer may not want to choose her as the company of choice. [7]

The buyer or buying center makes a decision on one (or the necessary number) of companies to execute the project, finalizes details, negotiates all aspects of the arrangement, and signs a contract.

This requires perseverance and attention to detail on the part of the salesperson. Once the decision is made, the real business of selling begins: delivering the product or service as agreed upon and building the relationship.

This is where the rubber meets the road; it presents an opportunity for the salesperson to communicate, anticipate, and solve any problems. [8]

The process makes sense and leads a B2B buyer through a logical buying process. But there are two flaws in this thinking that significantly impact the buying process and, as a result, the selling process:

The Internet changes everything

Emotions dominate B2B buying [9] [10]

The Internet

It used to be that B2B buyers relied on salespeople to get information, and costs about products and services.

Today, B2B buyers are doing the work themselves online. Buyers can not only research product and supplier options online, but they can also see product specifications, and get feedback from users before he even calls for an appointment. [11] The power has shifted from sellers to buyers.

The Internet has had such a profound effect on how people make purchasing decisions that the Wall Street Journal has coined a new term: new info shopper. What is important to note is the fact that 92 percent of new info shoppers have more confidence in the information they get online than from an ad, salesperson, or other company source. [12]

So what’s a salesperson to do? Stop, listen, and help your customer make the best decision for her business, even if it means that she doesn’t buy your product. Despite the importance of the Internet in providing information throughout the buying process, B2B buyers still gather insight from a variety of sources that include salespeople.

Successful salespeople are those that truly focus on the buyer’s needs, which may mean giving up the sale and bringing valuable feedback to your company to change the product, service, or other options that are reasons why customers might not buy from you.

The new world order requires everyone to rethink the conventional wisdom. Selling used to be something you “do to” a customer; now it’s something you “do for” a customer. [13]

The salespeople who win are the ones who listen in person, on the phone, and online, then make the recommendation that is in the customer’s best interest.

Sales 2.0 has changed the way people seek, receive, and interact online. Static Web sites have given way to not only information gathering, but to problem solving.

Crowdsourcing occurs when a company issues an “open call,” to people all over the world to solve the problem. This is a new way for businesses and individuals to leverage the Internet in an efficient and effective way. [14]

Salespeople can embrace crowdsourcing and bring the power of the crowd to solve any customer problem. Consider this example of the power of the crowd: Apple offered more than 65,000 apps for its iPhone in less than two years, and the number is projected to rise to 300,000 in 2010. [15], [16]

Emotions Dominate B2B Buying

Despite the implication and belief that companies make purchasing decisions based on facts, it’s a good idea to remember one of the key tenets of B2B buying:

Business-to-business means person-to-person. That means that although a B2B buyer is making a decision on behalf of her company, she still behaves like a consumer and is subject to emotions and feelings. People rationalize buying decisions based on facts, but they make buying decisions based on feeling, according to ClickZ.com. [18]

People won’t buy from someone they don’t trust, which is why some salespeople are more successful than others; they work to establish and develop trust with the customer.

However many people have had the experience of being told one thing by a salesperson only to learn the hard way that what he said just wasn’t true. “People are afraid of being sold,” according to Tom Hopkins, author of How to Master the Art of Selling. [19] The best way to overcome this fear is to demonstrate that you are trustworthy. Understand your customer’s fear of buying and replace it with comfort, trust, and confidence-in you. [20]

In the B2B buying process, the buyer is not the person who experiences the benefits of the product or service. [22] If the product or service doesn’t perform as expected or doesn’t generate the desired results, the decision maker could put their job in jeopardy. [23] B2B buying is all about minimizing fear by minimizing risk. [24]

Imagine the decision maker who bought the computer system to power the United States’ government car rebate program, which was delayed for three weeks because the system crashed. [25] Every B2B purchaser thinks about nightmares like this, so she is naturally risk-averse. The best approach in these instances is for the salesperson to reassure her that you realize how important it is for her to look good and show her exactly how you will help her do that. [26]

Fear is a strong motivator in a B2B buying decision, and it can’t simply be addressed in one meeting or conversation. Successful salespeople are aware of it in each contact and use every opportunity to demonstrate trustworthiness.

It’s how you handle the little things that show customers how you’ll handle the big ones, says Tom Hopkins. [27]

It’s best to look at the situation from your customer’s vantage point; you’ll see more clearly how you can deliver value.[28]

Evolving Buying and Selling

The framework for the buying and selling processes has been in place for many years.

The buying process changes literally every day and has dramatic impact on the selling process. As a result, the new processes are not yet clearly defined.

One thing is for certain; the processes are no longer organized, controllable functions. “Linear is so twentieth century,” according to the author of Consumerspace: Conquering Marketing Strategies for a Branded World. [29] To understand the impact of the rapid changes occurring in the buying process, it’s important to know the basic steps in the selling process.

Cultural, social, and technological changes will continue to drive companies for even better performance, faster, and with ideas as currency, which will continue to drive change in the buying process.

Buying Process Meets FAB

No matter how the buying process evolves, customers continue to make purchase decisions driven by emotions. Comfort, vanity, convenience, pleasure, desire to succeed, security, prevention of loss, and need to belong are all emotions that motivate purchases. So how do you create the same type of emotional appeal with your customers?
The answer is simple: FAB.



Feature: what the product has

Advantage: what the features do

Benefit: what the features mean [35], [36]



Use the FAB framework as your guide:
[Name feature] means you [name advantage] with the real benefit to you being [name benefit]. [38]

Consider this information that was on the home page of Amazon recently:

3G wireless means books in 60 seconds. No monthly fees, service plans or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots. Over 300,000 of the most popular books, newspapers, magazines, and blogs available. [30]

Amazon truly understands how to use FAB, a selling technique that focuses on Features, Advantages, and Benefits, to sell its Kindle electronic reader. FAB is more than a way of selling; it’s a way of thinking like your customers.

You probably use FAB sometimes without even realizing it. “My new Lucky Brand jeans have a dirty wash, fit great, and make me look thin. The best part is they were on sale for only $89.00.”
The features, are the dirty wash and the fact that they were on sale for $89.00;
The advantage, that they fit well;
The benefit, that they make you feel good and look thin.

Your statement is much more powerful when you frame it with FAB than if you simply say, “I got some new jeans today for $89.00.”

For example, if you were describing Netflix you might say something like the following:

For only $8.99 a month (feature), you can watch as many movies as you want and never be charged a late fee (advantage). You can order online and have a DVD delivered in about a day and exchange it as many times as you want without a late fee (advantage), or you can watch streaming video of your favorite movies online anytime. It definitely saves you time and money and gives you total personalized entertainment [benefit]. [37]

Here’s another FAB example, based on research about the 2009 Nissan Cube: [39]

The Nissan Cube has funky, Japanese-like design (feature) and is friendly to the environment (advantage) with a fuel-efficient 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine that gets over 30 miles per gallon (advantage). It’s hip, cool, and fun to drive. At $15,585, it’s a great value for the money (benefit).

Know your customer

Benefits speak emotionally to customers in a way that rational facts can’t.

But you need to know what is important to each customer. The health club that’s open twenty-four hours might be attractive to a young professional because he can work out late in the evening after a long day, whereas the club’s day care center might be appealing to a young mother.

Similarly, in a B2B selling situation in which a buyer is evaluating warehouse space, one customer might be interested in the warehouse because of its state-of-the-art systems, while another might be focused on location.

Know what motivates your customer, and then you can craft an effective FAB statement. [40]

Think outside your box

If you want your FAB to work for your customer, you will need to deliver value in the form of benefits that she can’t get from anyone else.

Think about your product or service in a different way; talk to people, watch the trends, see what else you can bring when you look at your product or service in a different way. Baking soda had traditionally been used as a leavening agent for baking. Arm & Hammer reinvented baking soda as a way to remove odors from refrigerators. Can you be as creative with the application for your product or service? [41]

customer motivation

Although it might be an overly romantic notion of how selling works, your goal is to have your customer fall in love with your product or service.

So much, that it’s something that they feel they can’t live without. A feature is a physical characteristic of the product. [31]
A product advantage is the performance characteristic of the product, or what the feature does. [32]
The benefit is the result the buyer will realize from the product because of the product advantage, or in other words, what the feature does or the result it delivers. [33]

If you understand his motivation, you can deliver features, advantages, and benefits that not only tell him why he should buy, but why he can’t afford not to.

Listen, learn, and craft a FAB message that will “have your customer at hello.” [42]

KEY TAKEAWAYS

The traditional B2B buying process has seven steps: need recognition, defining the need, developing the specifications, searching for appropriate suppliers, evaluating proposals, making the buying decision, and postpurchase evaluation.

The Internet is a game-changer as it relates to the buying process because information is no longer the exclusive domain of the salesperson; the power has shifted from the seller to the buyer.

Crowdsourcing occurs when a company takes a job that is traditionally done by an employee and issues an “open call,” to people all over the world to solve it.

Emotions such as comfort, security, convenience, pleasure, and vanity are major motivations for buying decisions. Trust and fear are especially important in B2B buying because the decision maker has to consider organizational risk and personal risk as part of his buying decision.

The buying process continues to evolve, which changes the selling process; the traditional selling process provides a foundation and insight into the evolution.

FAB (a.k.a. features, advantages, benefits) is the way to appeal to your customer’s emotions with factual and emotional appeals.

A feature is what a product has.

An advantage is what the feature does.

A benefit is what the features mean to the customer.

Exercises

Identify a recent major purchase that you made recently. How did you recognize the need for the product or service? Where did you go to gather information about the options that were available to you? Did you use one method or a combination of methods?

You are a salesperson for a major phone company and you are calling on a major construction company that is considering buying smart phones for staff. Describe at least one organizational risk and one personal risk that might be involved in the decision.

Bibliography


[1] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[2] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[3] Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 93.


[4] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).
[5] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[6] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[7] Ron Brauner, “B2B Buying Process: 8 Stages of the Business Sales Funnel,”http://www.ronbrauner.com/?p=68 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[9] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30, 2007,http://blogs.bnet.com/salesmachine/?p=30 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[10] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26, 2001,http://www.clickz.com/927221 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[11] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30, 2007,http://blogs.bnet.com/salesmachine/?p=30 (accessed August 1, 2009).
[12] Mark Penn, “New Info Shoppers,” January 8, 2009, Wall Street Journal,http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123144483005365353.html?mod=dist_smartbrief#(accessed August 1, 2009).


[13] Geoffrey James, “Is Your Sales Process Obsolete?” BNET, March 30, 2007,http://blogs.bnet.com/salesmachine/?p=30 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[14] BrightSightGroup, “Jeff Howe: Crowdsourcing,” video, July 6, 2008,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0-UtNg3ots (accessed August 3, 2009).


[15] Will Park, “Apple Bans Hundreds of Spammer’s iPhone Apps,” Into Mobile, August 3, 2009, http://www.intomobile.com/2009/08/03/apple-bans-hundreds-of-spammers-iphone-apps.html (accessed August 3, 2009).
[16] Daniel Ionescu, “Android Market Hits 20,000 Apps Milestone,” PC World, December 16, 2009,http://www.pcworld.com/article/184808/android_market_hits_20000_apps_milestone.html (accessed December 20, 2009).


[17] Trendwatching.com, http://trendwatching.com (accessed August 9, 2009).


[18] Bryan Eisenberg, “Buying Is Not a Rational Decision,” ClickZ, November 26, 2001,http://www.clickz.com/927221 (accessed August 1, 2009).


[19] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter, August 18, 2003,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=296 (accessed March 16, 2010).


[20] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18, 2003,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=296 (accessed June 21, 2010).

[21] Norm Brodsky, “Listen and Earn,” Inc., March 1, 1997,http://www.inc.com/magazine/19980301/878.html (accessed August 9, 2009).


[22] “Beyond the B2B Buying Funnel: Exciting New Research About How Companies Make Complex Purchases,” Marketo, April 22, 2009,http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2009/04/beyond-the-b2b-buying


[23] “Fear of Buying,” Selling Power, August 18, 2003,http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=296 (accessed June 21, 2010).
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[30] Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com (accessed August 4, 2009).
[31] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.
[32] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.


[33] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 114.
[34] Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com (accessed August 4, 2009).


[35] Laura Clampitt Douglas, “Marketing Features vs. Benefits,” Entrepreneur,http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/homeofficemagcom/2000/december/34942.html(accessed August 4, 2009).


[36] Bryan Eisenberg, “Want The to Buy? Sell Benefits,” ClickZ.com, April 9, 2001,http://www.clickz.com/840121 (accessed August 4, 2009).


[37] Netflix, http://www.netflix.com (accessed July 12, 2009).


[38] Charles M. Futrell, Fundamentals of Selling: Customers for Life through Service, 10th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2008), 116.


[39] Ben Stewart, “2009 Nissan Cube vs. Kia Soul vs. 2009 Scion xB: 300-Mile Fuel-Economy Test-Drive,” Popular Mechanics, February 24, 2009,http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/automotive_news/4306145.html (accessed August 4, 2009).
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[41] Laura Clampitt Douglas, “Marketing Features vs. Benefits,” Entrepreneur,http://www.entrepreneur.com/magazine/homeofficemagcom/2000/december/34942.html(accessed August 4, 2009).