For the last decade, selling organizations have been nearly paralyzed because of research from CEB (now Gartner CEB) that highlighted that, due to a variety of factors, buyers were 57% through their journey before they were open to engaging with salespeople.
While sales leaders, reps, and demand generation teams have paid lip service to strategies and tactics designed to address this challenge, the reality is that they have, for all practical purposes, abandoned the early stages of the sales process and pushed harder and harder to the post-intent, high-inclination-to-buy late-journey stage. Demand Generation has become a buzzword as tactics rapidly shift to demand capture. And while demand is high and the economy is red-hot, the cost of this shift isn’t being felt (and in many ways, companies are experiencing positive reinforcement for activities that thrust them further into the commoditization trap).
I have never disputed the virtual revolution in buy-side behavior but, for as long as I’ve been in business, I’ve vigorously argued that the cause of this change was driven primarily because of a lack of value creation generated by sales and marketing in the early phases of a decision or purchase, and not because of some innate desire on the part of buyers to do away with salespeople.
Today, I’m happy to share, that I now have the data to back up my claim. A just-released research report from The Aberdeen Group, Demystifying B2B Purchase Intent Data shows that buyers are not only not avoiding sales reps at the beginning of the buying process - they are desperately looking for professionals who actually create value. Here are some of the highlights:
- 50% of those involved in B2B purchases say they have incomplete, unclear or poorly defined criteria surrounding the business need they are addressing.
- 73% of B2B buyers are more willing to speak with a vendor “earlier than usual in the consideration process” if:
- They can help me define my problems and needs
- They tell me something I didn’t know about the category of my competitors
- They provide me with objective information and help me frame my decision
- They challenge my way of doing business by highlighting a pain point or organizations need we weren’t aware of
- 33% of B2B buyers will favor a vendor that “shows me a new way of solving an established problem”
- 66% of B2B buyers say that vendors that have taken such an approach have enabled them to shorten the purchasing/decision/sales cycle
It turns out that one of the major reasons that buyers are doing more on their own is
because of the seller.