Gartner says: Sales and marketing influences just 32% of B2B buyer’s journey

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?

Thebuyers journey 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.


  1. Ron Wen says:

    Interesting post, Adele! If the Gartner reports is accurate, my thought is that as a modern marketer, there’s a huge need to provide customer-focused content and tools that helps them through the buying process.

    For example, leverage buyer persona interviews to understand what they truly need in the buyer journey and publish content and assets beyond the scope of your standard product marketing assets. Ideally it’s high-value content that gets shared amongst the community and peers and treated differently than traditional “product marketing”.

    Or is it more about being more impactful in the 32% of the journey you can directly influence?


    • We’ve definitely got to focus on the entire journey, because buyers are relying on those non-supplier interactions to decide who they will consider once they talk to suppliers. If we’ve been eliminated, our salespeople can’t get in and do their job.

      This isn’t a linear analysis either, with the 32% at the end of the journey. Buyers are jumping in and out of supplier engagement at various stages of the journey, and this interaction differs depending on what buying decision the persona is engaged in analyzing.

      The take-away is that we’ve got to stop the proliferation of benefits-oriented content and understand the buyers’ expectations and frustrations throughout their journey. When we know more than our competition about that journey, we can deliver the most useful answers to at each stage in that journey. And that earns the buyer’s trust.

  2. I agree with your blog and comments Adele. The challenge I have as a modern-day digital marketing professional is convincing upper leadership to stop only focusing on the end of the funnel and the importance of engaging with the buyer throughout their entire journey.

  3. Hello Adele , I would even say that this percentage could be lower still in Brazil , but as the research was done here too , I will use it as a parameter.
    Working with Digital Marketing for 6 years and I see that here in Brazil the few companies that work with Content Markeitng are agencies. The vast majority did not understand the value of generating content and connection of benefit to buyers .
    Companies are more concerned about talking about themselves than about who purchase them.

    Karine Borges

  4. Gabriel says:

    I don’t think that marketing and sales can do much more than 32%

    It’s only possible when marketers and sales people know very well what they sell and if they spend more time assessing the real needs and pain points of the customer. But this is almost like consulting and it may become too expensive for companies to acquire new customers

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