Putting the B2B Buyer First and Understanding Their Purchase Journey, Part 1

Guest: Brent Adamson Principle Executive Advisor, Gartner

A customer’s purchase journey is never an easy process to document and collect data on. Thankfully, Brent Adamson is interviewed on this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite. As Principal Executive Advisor at Gartner (formerly CEB), Brent works to help B2B companies explain to customers why their solution is the best available.

Throughout part 1 of this conversation, Brent and Drew discuss why putting the customer first should be at the heart of any B2B organization. They also explain the 6 non-linear steps in any purchase journey, and Brent shares his #1 tip for any B2B supplier.

Click here to learn what you need to know about B2B marketing.

What You’ll Learn

Putting the buyer first is the #1 step to create a better purchase journey

B2B companies should be focusing on understanding how buying happens. Learning how your ideal customer views the buying process will give you direction when bridging the gap between marketing and sales departments. Brent explains that unfortunately, few brands in the B2B space are doing this well. To learn how to put the buyer first and reorganize your brand’s purchase journey model, be sure to listen.

The 6 main steps in any B2B purchase journey – they’re not linear!

Contrary to what many professionals believe, a purchase journey within B2B industries isn’t linear. And closing a deal isn’t about progression, it’s about completion. Brent outlines the 6 main steps that must be completed before any buying decision is made.

  1. Problem identification
  2. Solution exploration
  3. Requirements building
  4. Supplier selection
  5. Consensus creation (always happening)
  6. Validation of information (always happening)

These steps are far from being linear, especially when multiple decision-makers are involved. Of all the B2B buyers surveyed by Brent and his team at Gartner, 90% reported having to revisit one of the top 4 steps multiple times throughout their purchase journey.

Marketers should be doing THIS, before anything else, to help buyers choose their solution

Given these 6 steps, what is the ideal job of a B2B marketer? Brent believes it’s simple: marketers need to make buying easier. The first step in doing so is ensuring that problem-solving information is available through multiple channels. The answers given to a buyer over the phone from a sales rep should be consistent with information available online and via social media.

Actively solving a customer’s problems, before they even recognize a problem, is the key to making B2B buying easier. By understanding a buyer’s problems, offering them the best solution, and supporting them through their purchase journey, you’re well on your way to closing more deals in your industry.


  • [0:30] Brent’s Renegade Rapid Fire segment, and his unique definition of marketing
  • [7:30] The importance of putting the customer first
  • [12:11] Brent explains the traditional customer purchase journey model
  • [17:42] The 6 main steps to a buying process – they’re NOT linear
  • [25:40] B2B buying is incredibly complex, and it’s through a multi-channel approach
  • [33:27] Here are your need-to-know takeaways from part 1 of this conversation with Brent

Connect With Brent:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Brent Adamson, co-author of The Challenger Sale, is Principal Executive Advisor for the Sales and Marketing Practice at Gartner (formerly CEB). In that role, he serves as their chief storyteller, having worked on numerous sales and marketing studies broadly spanning everything from customer loyalty to sales rep performance to organizational productivity. Brent is a frequent contributor on sales topics on Harvard Business Review’s blog and CEB’s blogs as well as being published in Bloomberg Businessweek and Selling Power. He is a sought-after speaker and facilitator, with more than 20 years of experience as a professional researcher, teacher and trainer.

Quotes from Brent Adamson

  • If we can drive up content consumption that equals customer engagement and if they're engaged with us that means they're progressing along the purchase journey.
  • If we're not consistent with the information and the help that we provide across digital and in-person channels, we are at a serious disadvantage in the eyes of our customer.
  • In B2B you must successfully do two things: You have to identify a problem, and figure out if it's a problem worth solving.

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