Christine Crandell in her seminal work “Buyer 3.0 and the Buyer’s Journey” takes us through today’s research and evaluation process B2B buyers engage in before even reaching out to a vendor for information.

The very basic lesson is that you (the vendor) need to be visible and findable in the arenas and trusted networks where buyers start their research, and Christine gives very good guidance for how to be visible, and what needs to be visible.

Additionally, she has identified six characteristics of Buyer 3.0 that today’s marketers need to be acutely aware of:

  • Views the buying experience as a precursor of the customer experience.
  • Outcome-driven and expects to receive meaningful value at every step.
  • Thoroughly researches potential purchases and alternatives long before contacting sellers.
  • Considers any inconsistencies in the buying “experience” as a warning sign that future expectations will not be met.
  • Uses multiple social channels to interact with and expects sellers to be able to follow the conversation across channels.
  • Proactively shares product and seller experiences with his/her social graph.

The research phase pointed out above in bullet three is captured in her Seller’s Compass™, and she makes the point that 70% of research that leads to a buying cycle is performed before the buyer even reaches out to the vendor. You don’t stand much of a chance if you don’t get this right.

Copyright 2012, Christine Crandell

However, I think the Seller’s Compass™ isn’t just guidance for marketers; it is a blueprint for every step in customer life-cycle planning and management that must be exercised by every department that ever touches the customer.

Instead, I call the Seller’s Compass™ the Brand Wheel. The buyer’s journey—the expectations and experiences—goes beyond brand planning, straight to the heart of corporate culture. A brand can only thrive if it is supported and championed by the right corporate culture. Marketing, Sales, and Customer Care must act and communicate in unison to continuously deliver the expected (promised!) brand experience.

And while I hold corporate culture responsible for this, strategic and executive leadership is responsible for corporate culture. Now all they have to do is pin this on their wall and get a clue (How? The Services Gap Model; future post.)