As marketers, we like to think we know what our buyers need and want and that we give it to them across the course of their buying process. But, do we really? If we're only listening to what they say and not watching their behavior, we may miss a few critical nuances.
ITSMA recently conducted 486 telephone interviews with a pretty even split of business and technology decision makers involved in tech purchases across a variety of industries and discovered what they call the New Buyer Paradox.
Take a look at a few of the contradictions:
- Buyers act like thier first priority is cost cutting, yet they've also earmarked growing revenues and improving productivity in their list of top 3 priorities.
- Buyers don't want to engage with sales until they're ready, but insist that strong relationships with vendors are important factors in a purchase decision.
- Buyers admit they're short on time but want relevant content — lots of it. Only they're picky about how they want to access and consume it.
- Buyers want unique, customized solutions, but they want proof you've done it before.
- Buyers want thought leadership and visionary ideas, but they want realistic solutions.
I think a lot of these are applicable to B2B buyers of other products and services than technology solutions...
And just to give you a bit more to think about and to justify that you should actually address what your buyers are thinking and doing, take a look at the following proof points:
Thought leadership is important to your buyers. In fact, 56% of them said they meet with their solutions providers regularly. The kicker is that only 9% say their vendors bring them thoughtful, relevant ideas about solving their problems. Do you see an opportunity?
As you can see, this is not only important for content marketing programs, but also for sales enablement and collateral development. With 58% saying that thought leadership is critical or important, conversations and dialogue must improve across the buying process.
Something to consider is that buyers want to partner with thought leaders than can count on to bring relevant and valuable ideas to the table. This doen't mean that supplying them with an analyst white paper will cross this off your list. They aren't forming a relationship with the analyst.
This said, that doesn't mean you can't use third party content. Just do so wisely in support of your own thought leadership efforts.
For those of you who always ask me how I know buyers are using social media during their buying process, here you go:
This presents a real need to be using social media to advance buying conversations. But not just with "hey, how ya doing" - but by providing links to relevant content. This should help dispel the argument that tech buyers aren't using social media. Then again, for those of you who continue to believe that, we'll take the advantage. Oh, and thanks!
Now, take a look at how buyers are sourcing other informational needs during their purchasing process:
That third one is the one you can impact now. If you're looking for a reason to whip your website into shape and start or gain support for your company blog, look at #3 on the list. But, even better, consider that becoming a thought leader can also impact #1 and #2.
If you're a tech marketer looking to move the needle with buyers this year, this should give you an idea of where to start.