Who makes the purchase decision depends on the situation. In the business-to-business (B2B) world, there are three common types of buying situations: direct repurchase, modified repurchase, and new task. Each of these has its own stages in the B2B buying process, which are similar to the stages of the consumer buying process. Users and influencers are important in the B2B buying process.
For example, when purchasing an e-book for an online course, the professor teaching the course, his teaching assistants, and the information technology staff at the university would all be involved in deciding what type of book is best suited for the course. They would need to consider if it should be published on the Web as is, downloadable, or compatible with the Amazon Kindle. The specifications developed for a cleaning service purchase by the State of Kentucky is an example of product specifications developed for a B2B purchase (see Figure 4.6). A scorecard approach can help a company qualify requests for proposals (RFPs).
Figure 4.7 shows a simple example of a scorecard completed by a member of a purchasing team. Scorecards completed by all purchasing team members can be tabulated to help determine the vendor with the highest rating. It's important to remember that a vendor with a history of poor performance may not be solely responsible for any issues. The buying company could also play a role. For example, if FedEx has a contract with the Postal Service to help deliver Christmas packages on time but many packages are delivered late, it may not be entirely FedEx's fault.
It could be due to a large number of charges from the U. S. Postal Service, weather conditions, or unusually high shipping volumes. Companies need to collaborate with their suppliers to find ways to improve their joint performance. Some companies hold annual symposiums with their suppliers to facilitate cooperation between them and honor their best suppliers. In simple terms, B2B buyers are involved in business transactions between two or more companies.
For instance, a tire manufacturer may sell merchandise to a car manufacturer or wholesalers may sell their products to retailers who then turn around and sell them to consumers; in both cases, there is a B2B transaction between buyer and seller. B2B buyers typically ask prospective suppliers to submit formal proposals about their product and how those products can help the buyer's business. B2B buyers can be for-profit or non-profit organizations; for simplicity's sake, we will categorize them into four main groups: producers, resellers, governments, and institutional markets.
1.B2B ProducersB2B producers are usually manufacturers who purchase goods and services from vendors and suppliers and transform them into other products. They are an integral part of economic growth in most cases. To find producers you can sell to, you can use BizVibe's B2B Buyer Directory.
2.B2B ResellersResellers are wholesalers, retailers, and brokers who sell goods and services manufactured by other companies without making changes to the product.
They buy products in bulk and sell them to consumers they are targeting; this makes them popular buyers for B2B companies as it simplifies logistics.
3.GovernmentsGovernments buy everything from airplanes to paper clips and from training services to scientific research. For example, they may look for services such as transportation or garbage collection at the state level for their citizens.
4.Institutional MarketsInstitutional markets involve selling products to institutions such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, corporations like the American Red Cross, etc.
This usually involves massive supply issues such as how many rolls of toilet paper a school needs each month or how much food supplies an organization needs each month. To sell to institutional markets you need to further segment your audience and focus on specific types of B2B buyers you are likely to encounter in your sales initiatives. According to CSO Insights, 65% of B2B buyers said they found value in discussing their situations with sellers; this means that you should focus on key business challenges your customers face and how only your product can generate higher return on investment and business results. When approaching these types of buyers in B2B sales initiatives, it is important to get in touch with everyone involved in the process as it is usually long and can involve researchers who don't have purchasing power but have influence over decisions.