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The 2020 technology buyer journey framework

B2B technology organization marketing teams must focus on the people and moments that matter so that marketing spend is invested in the right direction. According to Gartner’s study1, only 17% of B2B buyers are meeting potential vendors while making purchase decisions. Around 27% of the b2B buyers research independently online, and 22% match with a buyer group. What does this indicate? The B2B buyer landscape has evolved. Yet we see scores of organizations focusing on ‘meeting potential clients’ as the critical end of their marketing efforts. 

While B2B organizations have firmly grasped the notion of customer-centricity, many have yet to adapt to the reality of customer moments and behavior. That’s led to millions of marketing dollars being overspent, and potential sales opportunities are lost at a time when companies cannot afford it.

In fact, our research with more than 42 marquee B2B technology organizations globally shows that half or more of all marketing spend is not aligned, especially in the areas of influence and decision-making centers of their most ideal customers.

B2B technology organizations need to develop a much granular understanding of the new Technology Customer Purchase Journey (TCPJ). Where the old sales funnel assumed a straight-line defined purchasing path — it is far from reality. Today’s technology customers are information hunters; they have clear choices marked in terms of the technology stack. They have sophisticated buying centers with multiple stakeholders. They want to interact virtually with diverse vendors to tread the path of best-fit — the TCPJ moves away from the “funnel” way of doing things. It recognizes that the purchase process is anything but the defined path. It also accounts for the post-purchase specifics.

The B2B Technology Purchase Journey

For B2B technology CMOs and CSOs, adopting the TCPJ has helped shift as much as 30 – 40 percent of marketing investment to activities that generate better ROI. We’ve seen technology organizations boost sales by an average of 8 percent and client retention by an average of 20 percent. 

One technology company that adopted the approach found that TCPJ-influenced efforts yielded 7 percent higher revenue per bid than regular conventional marketing endeavors.

B2B organizations need to use the TCPJ in two ways to increase sales:

1.Discover what truly matters to the decision-makers:

Gaining account insights goes beyond merely identifying a list of decision-makers. For marketing and sales activities to be aligned and effective, companies need to focus on those pivotal decision-making moments in the decision journey where they can be most successful in a connection in those moments with the decision-makers. For some, that might be IT vendor procurement or finance. For others, it might be the Head of Digital, Head of emerging technologies, CMO, or even the end-user.

Understanding the key influencers and what matters most to them in making their purchasing decisions gives marketing and sales leaders the pivotal insight and intelligence needed to measure where their efforts are sure to have the most significant impact. 

When organizations we’ve studied invest the time to learn from their customers what parts of the purchase process are most important to them, they are often surprised by the marketing outcomes. One chief marketing officer gained insights from customer interviews that 40% of the marketing budget and 39% of the sales efforts were not spent in areas that influenced the customer’s decision. 

One high-tech martech organization, for instance, counted both large corporate buyers and small operators among its customer base. Both had different expectations. Enterprise buyers, usually led by finance chiefs, viewed the product as a way to decrease cost and improve operational efficiency, so paid particular attention to the procurement process. Small organizations, by contrast, were often owned by individuals with technology backgrounds who kept abreast of the trends and were willing to adapt to the technology landscape. Knowing the critical stakeholders within those segments clarified what phases of the TCPJ to focus on. To cater to its small business, for example, sales teams invested time inviting business owners to test their products and hosted co-branded events that previewed the latest product. To appeal to enterprise finance leaders, by contrast, the martech company reworked on its RFP process. It expanded the financial terms, focussed on cost efficiency, and created pricing calculators as part of its content strategy and other elements that made it easier for buyers to determine ROI in comparison with other products in the same segment.

2.Invest resources and marketing dollars where and when it matters:

Gaining insights on what drives customer decisions means that technology marketers can make practical and wiser decisions about where to allocate resources and tools. For instance, before using the TCPJ method, the sales and marketing team at an enterprise technology company did what it did best. It strengthed its key accounts and gathered intelligence on new opportunities within two of its most significant market segments, the telecom sector, and the airline’s sector. It was a sales first approach focused on generating and qualifying the lead, making the technology pitch, and closing the deal. Still, revenue growth was their biggest challenge.

So their marketing leaders analyzed their customer base, interviewed key players, and came away with a smarter idea of where to focus its resources along the TPJC. If it was going to win the telecom sector, for instance, the company realized it had to broaden its thought leadership and build relationships not just with telecom executives, but also with regulators.

This insight told marketers not only where and when to invest their relationship-building efforts, but it also showed where to pull back, such as in events spend, which their research showed had very little influence on the purchase outcome. They used those marketing funds instead to develop on-site distributor’ proof of concept’ that proved very useful for increasing conversion from the primary education to the consideration stage. 

In another example, a Fintech company identified three different segments of buyers they wanted to target: 1) those that wanted convenience and better customer experience, 2) those that were technology-conscious and wanted an active role in the technology adoption, and 3) those who were cost-sensitive.

For the better customer experience crowd, for instance, marketers saw that a simple, streamlined experience, along with practical advice from the pre-sales team, would have a much stronger influence than other phases in the purchase journey. So, they created a simple and intuitive account set-up tool that made it easy for pre-sales teams to help customers be educated and lead them to the next set of conversations.

For the technology conscious set, marketing put together a group of tools that emphasized on the use cases, developer tools, and the customizations that would be possible using their application.

As for the cost-sensitive group, the fintech company wanted to make the purchase as valuable as possible. To do that, the marketing team created price comparison tools with other providers and also showed them modular pricing. They also equipped the sales teams with custom pricing directives. They also shortened contract length, making them a preferred choice of a technology company.

Without understanding your technology customer’s purchase journey, it doesn’t matter how “customer-centric” you are. Building your organization and programs around the TCPJ model means ROI and better effectiveness for your marketing programs.

1https://www.gartner.com/en/sales-service/insights/b2b-buying-journey

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