If the first buying stage is awareness of a problem or opportunity during normal business operations, the second buying stage in the B2B buying process is an acknowledgement and definition of the problem to be solved, or the opportunity to be captured.

Your prospective customer – or existing customer – has identified that there is a barrier to achieving an objective, or to capitalising fully on the opportunity that has come to light. Something is broken and they need to change the way they do things. At this stage, they haven’t decided if they can fix the problem internally, such as by reallocating their resources. They still might need to go outside their organisation and invest in your product or service.

In this buying stage the customer needs to define these three important questions:

– what are we trying to achieve?

– what is currently broken that is stopping us from getting there?

– what will happen if we don’t fix what’s broken?

Companies are generally very good at answering the first two questions, but less good at quantifying or qualifying the the answer to the third question, which is effectively the ‘opportunity cost’ of not doing something.

Once the customer has defined their problem, they’re in a position to move forward. If they can’t articulate their problem, they’ve got problems, plural.