Typet of Decision and the Decision Process

Business buyers usually face more complex buying decisions than do consumer buyers. Purchases often involve large sums of money, complex technical and economic considerations, and interactions among many people at many levels of the buyer's organization. Because the purchases are more complex, business buyers may take longer to make their decisions. For example, the purchase of a large computer system might take many months or more than a year to complete and could involve millions of pounds, thousands of technical details and do/ens of people ranging from top management to lower-level users.

The business buying process tends to be more formalized than the consumer buying process. Large business purchases usually call for detailed product specifications, written purchase orders, careful supplier searches and formal approval. The buying firm might even prepare policy manuals that detail the purchase process.

Finally, in the business buying process, buyer and seller are often much more dependent on each other. Consumer marketers are usually at a distance from their customers. In contrast, business marketers may roll up their sleeves and work closely with their customers during all stages of the buying process - from helping customers define problems, to finding solutions, to supporting after-sales operations. For instance, 60 per cent of the money needed to develop Bombardier's Gax business jet came from suppliers, and risk-sharing partners including engine suppliers BMW/Rolls-Royce. They customize their offerings to meet individual customer needs. In the short run, orders go to suppliers that meet buyers' immediate product and service needs. However, business marketers must also build close long-run relationships with customers. In the long run, business marketers keep a customer's orders by meeting current needs and thinking ahead to meet the customer's future needs.

Volkswagen is breaking new ground at its Skoda factory by having suppliers' operations directly inside the car plant. Lucas, Johnson Controls and Pelzer are producing rear axles, seats and carpets in the Czech factory. This is one step ahead of Japanese manufacturers, which often have suppliers near by.6

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