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The Unique Role B2B Marketing Plays in the Industrial Buying Process

Posted by IndustrySelect on Monday, July 8, 2019



The industrial buying process is different from the generic consumer buying journey because it takes far more time and effort to get results. This presents a challenge to the industrial B2B marketer.

Marketing plays a significant role throughout the entire process.

Knowing the right steps to take can minimize the amount of time the process will take.

Let's review some of them in this article.


Every buying process begins with a need. Someone, somewhere needs something. Whether the customer is buying industrial products or looking for service providers, the first step is to identify their specific need with some very specific questions.

• Does one of their machines require a replacement?

• Is this a planned upgrade or an unexpected situation?

• What is the budget for a replacement machine?

• Will the machine need to be new or is reconditioned acceptable?

• Instead of a machine, do they need a specific part or component created for them?

• Does the part need to be analyzed by engineers or rendered in CAD first?

• Will the part need to have heat treatment processes applied?

• Is the part a standalone prototype or part of a planned production run?

• Does the part need to be produced in an ISO-certified facility?

• What is the target price point for these parts?

These questions must be answered first before any further work can be done in the buying process.


Following the definition-of-a-need stage comes the research stage. A key point where industrial buying differs from the generic consumer buying experience is that copious amounts of analysis are used to make industrial purchases.

When dealing with complex and expensive machines, or production runs totaling thousands of parts, rushing in without considering all of the possible options and data can be disastrous. Therefore, the research stage may last weeks or even years depending on the type of acquisition.

It is at this stage where content marketing really begins to come into play as the customer is looking for detailed information about various suppliers and products.

What needs to be considered is that the customer is not just one person, but multiple people.

Just as important, they are very smart and analytical people. This means that they will not fall for a fancy sales presentation or catchy slogans.

They want and need straightforward information, detailed analysis and an understanding of their particular situation without pressure to make an immediate decision.

Content marketing allows a customer to learn about their solution options over time, as well as discover your ability to assist them in that process.

Being knowledgeable about their industry and the challenges they face is something that can be determined by the quality of your content.

It should be accurate, targeted and indispensable. This style of marketing can manifest itself in many different ways, including articles, guides, question and answer sessions with industry providers, white papers and even tutorial videos.


After beginning the research process, a customer will then start to design a solution that fits their requirements.

This entails referencing the definition of the problem from the need stage and applying the information learned during the research stage.

This part of the journey is usually accomplished internally by the customer and does not require the involvement of suppliers.

The role of the marketer at this point is to assist in the delivery of any information or material requested by the customer.

This may be as simple as a brochure or as in-depth as consultation and analysis of their current processes. Time spent here on creating the boundaries of their solution will save time later in finding a match for that solution.


After creating an appropriate solution, customers begin to evaluate their options. This is where the marketer can assist significantly by referencing suppliers and products that align with the requirements.

• Does the customer need a local supplier?

• Is a factory visit something that is desired?

• Does the supplier provide a maintenance plan with every machine they sell, or only certain ones?

• Will the product fit in the existing space?

• Can the supplier guarantee a cost?

Intimate knowledge about capabilities, specializations and even key personnel increases your value in this process. The more information a marketer is able to provide for a customer is time and money that they save in the evaluation process.
Impartiality, honesty and transparency cannot be overstated as the only objective is to help the customer find data that helps them zero in on the solution they need.


After narrowing down the specifications, a customer is now ready to make a decision between qualified suppliers. At this stage, the marketer's role will include further refining information about suppliers and capabilities, communicating design changes or modifications and special offers from suppliers.

This is accomplished through the request-for-proposal process or in some cases, formal presentations where negotiations for specific considerations can be accomplished.

Some of the things that a customer will want to see in the proposal are:

• Upfront cost.

• Lead time.

• Delivery flexibility.

• Payment terms.

• What party is responsible for installation (if applicable).

• Warranty, support or service details.

• Ancillary components and their costs.

• Company history and reliability.

• Total investment.


The customer has been through the long process of identifying their need, researching their options, designing and evaluating a solution and negotiating with suppliers.

All that is left is the actual purchase, which is the final stage of the overall buying process.

A performance review is usually completed after the purchase is finalized. This review can be formal or informal and addresses the customer's satisfaction with the product or service and their rating of the supplier's helpfulness during the process.

Sometimes these reviews are passed along to the supplier to help them fine tune their customer service, and sometimes the reviews are used for internal scoring of suppliers.

Suppliers that consistently score high are retained while those that consistently score low may be dropped altogether.

Finding Your Best Customer

IndustrySelect's database subsciption allows marketers like you to access live profiles of 400,000 U.S. manufacturers.

IndustrySelect subscribers can select up to 30 data points on any manufacturing company in the U.S. to help build a powerful list of contacts.

Company profiles also include the contact information for hard-to-find executive decision-makers, so your message gets in front of the right person.

Learn more about IndustrySelect here or try a free demo today!



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