I am fascinated by a recent Gartner study about the journey of 700 enterprise buyers across the U.S., EMEA, Brazil, India and China. According to a recent interview with Hank Barnes, Research Vice President at Gartner, the study focused on four areas:
- During the buying process, what types of activities and information do you use, independent of the firm you are evaluating?
- What type of content do you use from the provider itself?
- What marketing activities get your attention?
- What are you expecting from sales interactions?
The findings? Buyers spend only 32% of their journey interacting with supplier-side content or sales people. Two thirds of the buyer’s journey is devoted to internal assessments, peer networking, and the recommendations of external experts.
According to Barnes, buyers “have access to all this stuff from vendors, but making sense of it, interpreting it, understanding that they have the right stuff is where they’re really struggling.”
This data quantifies exactly what we hear every day in our buyer persona interviews. And as a career sales and marketing professional, I am amazed that every company hasn’t realized that filling this void could be the best way to gain a competitive advantage.
In an article I wrote for CMO.com a few months ago, I related our experience interviewing buyers who say that marketing materials do nothing to help them make a decision, as competing solutions relate the same obvious benefits rather than useful information. The buyers’ experience with sales people is mostly a continuation of this theme, as sales arrives with the same marketing message rather than the critical details that help buyers gain confidence in their decision.
We know that many marketers are trying to explain the value of interviewing buyers to understand their needs and expectations. Maybe now that we have a report stating that vendors are privy to only 1/3 of the buyer’s journey, we can make it clear that it doesn’t work to build buyer personas by culling information from salespeople and marketing automation solutions. We’re seeing a very small part of the decision we need to influence.