What is Buyer Enablement?

A long scroll for performant marketers

This is kind of a big deal.

New things in B2B marketing come along twice a day. But whole new ways of thinking about marketing? Maybe once in a career. This could be one of those.

It starts by asking:
“What if we stopped thinking about marketing from the marketer’s perspective and started thinking about it from the buyer’s?”

That simple shift turns out to be kind of profound, taking us to some really interesting (and profitable) places. You in? Let’s go.

A collection of multiple headshots.

What is buyer enablement?

Buyer enablement is collecting the right data about every buyer, then using it to deliver the content most likely to help them buy from you. Sounds simple. Aren’t we all already doing that? Um… not really. In essence, it’s all about reducing “buying friction” to accelerate deals.

An animated ball moving through a track. It continuously bounces against an obstacle, unable to continue rolling through the track.

What is buying friction?

Buying friction is anything that slows the buyer down or inhibits the specific tasks that go into buying.

Anything that distracts, confuses, or frustrates buyers. Anything that delays, derails or destroys a buying team’s journey to ‘ka-ching!’.  (Lots of examples below).

So let’s put the two together:

Buyer enablement reduces buying friction by helping buyers create their own, low-friction paths to purchase.

Like the sound of that? Snap.

The benefits of buyer enablement

When you remove friction from buying paths, good things happen.

More conversion

Because buyers get what they need right now

Faster revenue cycles

With fewer stalled opportunities

A better buying experience

With way less frustration and FML

Smarter spending

That optimizes your budget around your buyers


Why B2B needs buyer enablement right now.

As consumers, we all experience low-friction buying every day: One-click ordering from Amazon. The bingeworthy Netflix home page. One-thumb Ubering. But B2B is stuck in the dark ages of high-friction buying, plagued by:

A Macbook computer with changing company logos on its screen. It cycles through Amazon, Netflix and Lyft.

sales cycles

54% say the buying cycle 
is getting longer [Showpad research]

More alternatives
to consider

With innovation copied faster than ever

buying teams

The average B2B sales involves 6-10 buyers [Gartner]

More content to
wade through

91% of B2B marketers use content marketing today 
 [CMI/Marketing Profs]


Buying Friction is increasing all on its own – slowing down or killing deals that should close.

So what do marketers do?
We make things worse.  (Ouch).

Headshot of Brent Adamson, Distinguished VP, Advisory at Gartner
Brent Adamson
Distinguished VP, Advisory
“The infrastructure that we’ve built is no longer consistent with how customers want to buy.”

How buyers spend their time

Your sales team has access to maybe 5% of a buyer’s entire buying process.
Buyer enablement helps you participate in the rest (and make the 5% better too.)

A representation of how buyer's spend their time in a buying process. 67% of the time they spend in "Independent Research & Meeting with Buyer Group", 17% of the time they are "meeting with potential suppliers" which is also indicated includes more than your company, and the remaining 16% is classified as "other"

How B2B marketers increase friction

    • A red, cross-out iconWe don’t use the right data to guide interactions.
      So our content recos are blind.
    • A red, cross-out iconWe force prospects to snail along at our nurture pace.
      Instead of zooming along at theirs.
    • A red, cross-out iconWe create obstacles.
      Stopping buyers in their tracks.
    • A red, cross-out iconWe make them forage for content.
      Instead of serving the right stuff at the right moment.

All of this is avoidable buying friction.
Buyer enablement is about spotting it… and ruthlessly stomping it out.

"I'm not in your funnel. You're in mine."

I’m looking at a lot of vendors. How can you help me?

7 high-friction B2B buying experiences

Landing pages

Where opportunity goes to die

One-and-done content

Instead of a series of related content

Web forms

Guaranteed to block progress instead of accelerating it

Too many clicks

When you try to find and consume content

‘Blind’ content recos

That aren’t personalized or context-aware

Downloadable PDFs

Instead of live web experiences

The ‘content hub’ 

dumping ground

That make buyers do all the work

The more of these kinds of things you have in your buying paths, the more friction you’re injecting—and the more obstacles you’re putting in your buyer’s way.

81% of Millennial & Gen X decision makers didn’t download a piece of content because they didn’t want to fill out the form.

Linkedin, March 2017


The 4 key drivers of buyer enablement

1. Be always-on and always-aware.

    • Check markInstrument the purchase path.
      Picking up granular signals at every step for every buyer in every account.
    • Check markSessionize the content experience.
      Make each content asset ‘live’ so you can capture key metrics (like time spent with content, # of pieces per session, order of consumption…).

2. Orient around their paths 
not your funnel.

    • Check markBalance push and pull.
      Offer on-demand content tracks and content recos in all channels. Do both.
    • Check markHyper-target based on a full mix of signals.
      Including profile, behavior, intent, account activity, buying stage…
    • Check markDeliver relevance in real time.
      Automating content path recos to reflect what’s happening now.
    • Check markAutomate content path recos.
      Using auto-discovery and tagging of your content—and AI to generate the lowest-friction paths.

3. Be account-based: help the whole buying team.

    • Check markAlign marketing with sales.
      To remove friction through the relationship, not just the pre-sales part.
    • Check markContinue buyer enablement beyond the first purchase.
      It works for or cross-selling and up-selling too.
    • Check markIdentify champions in each account.
      So you can help them mobilize their buying team.

4. Use the content you have, wherever your buyers are.

    • Check markLeverage all available content.
      Including your own and curated—as well as “post-sale” product documentation. It’s all good.
    • Check markUse automated content tagging.
      To scale up your personalization: let your systems make the most relevant recos.
    • Check markDeliver content in whatever channels the buyer prefers.
      Instead of forcing them to prescribed channels.

The low-friction buying path


    • Check markSelf-directed paths
    • Check markBuyer chooses channels
    • Check markContent tracks and binges
    • Check markHyper-personalized
    • Check markAlways-on
    • Check markBalance pull with push

    • A red, cross-out iconNurture campaigns
    • A red, cross-out iconMarketer chooses channels
    • A red, cross-out iconContent islands
    • A red, cross-out iconBatch mode
    • A red, cross-out iconCampaign cadence
    • A red, cross-out iconPush model
Headshot of Cassandra Jowett, Sr Director of Marketing at PathFactory
Cassandra Jowett
Sr Director of Marketing
“Buyer enablement uses micro-personalization for every individual buyer, not superficial, macro-personalization as clickbait.”

The buyer enabling martech stack


A way to maintain rich buyer profiles.
That are fed from all channels.

A way to understand and auto-tag all your existing content.
So you can match buyer needs with precision.

A way to watch buyers engage with your content.
By turning static, downloaded content into live sessions.

A way to scale up all this insight.
Using AI to recommend the next best content.

A way to encourage bingeing.
Because one-off content hits are from Planet Friction.

97% of buyers said they want vendors to package related content together and making it easier to access.

DemandGen Report, 2019

An illustrated computer with the PathFactory logo and various coloured, decorative shapes behind the computer.

See why we're so excited about this?

Buyer enablement is a new way of thinking about the job of B2B marketing.

A way that starts with the buyer and his or her whole buying team. A way that watches hard for everything the buyer consumes. So you can deliver just the right content tracks at just the right moments.

It’s a simple idea: buyers are buying because they want to solve a problem.

You can add to the problem by making buying difficult. Or you can work hard to remove friction from their journeys.

Buying is hard enough already.

Buyer enablement helps you help them.

Want to see buyer enablement in action?