How to Use Evolving Buyer Trends to Improve B2B Lead Generation

June 19, 2020
Contributor: Andrew Conrad

The current downturn offers a call to action to get software into the hands of decision makers who need it to run their businesses effectively through recovery.

While many businesses cut spending at the outset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the need to balance accounts, manage inventory and maintain existing customers has not gone away.

Software and related technology continue to provide the tools and means to run a business effectively, especially in new remote working environments. In mid-April, the Gartner Digital Markets Digital Transformation Survey of more than 500 business leaders revealed that 61% of respondents plan to spend more on business technology than they spent prior to the start of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

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“Small businesses need technology to survive,” Kelly Hopping, Chief Marketing Officer for Gartner Digital Markets, said in a recent on-demand webinar, Move Forward: Identify and Understand Critical Shifts in Software Buyer Behaviors.

Hopping joined Andrew Rosenblatt, GVP of Sales and Vendor Services for Gartner Digital Markets, for the on-demand webinar event, which outlined the latest trends in B2B buyer behavior, along with advice for sales and marketing teams to align their lead generation strategies with those trends. Here are three important take-aways.
 

1. Buyers are making purchase decisions faster than ever.

Business leaders who participated in the recent Gartner Digital Markets survey said that they are not only spending more on software in the current climate, they’re also buying that software at an accelerated pace. Rather than slowing down planned technology purchases out of caution, 73% of respondents said they plan to either accelerate their purchase process (46%) or keep it the same (27%).

“This really shows how technology is viewed as an enabler and a business accelerator,” Rosenblatt said. “Companies are still in need of software — they’re actively buying and possibly faster than they intended to.” For software providers, that means sales opportunities are plentiful, but they can also disappear quickly.

2. Potential leads search for software during the evenings and weekends.

One effect of increased remote work is that many workers now choose when they want to work, which has led to an increase in work during what are typically non-business hours. Since mid-March 2020, the Gartner Digital Markets network of sites saw buyer traffic increase on weekends by as much as 60%.

“We need to make sure our processes and sales behaviors align to this trend,” Rosenblatt said. “Ensuring that we have automated processes in place to be sure that we’re keeping buyers engaged over the weekend, and ensuring that your sales teams are able to respond to those leads as quickly as possible.”

That doesn’t mean that a sales rep needs to respond to leads at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, but establish marketing automation to trigger an initial response — “Thank you for your interest; how and when can we follow up on Monday?” — to begin lead nurturing until Monday morning, when a salesperson can follow up.
 

3. A move to faster sales cycles means a shorter sales pipeline.

In many ways, buyers have altered the typical sales cycle by moving more rapidly to direct product comparisons or searching directly for products that integrate with popular tools and technology that are already a part of their stack.

Software and SaaS providers can better prepare to capture qualified leads and engage buyers in this new sales cycle by updating marketing collateral, landing pages and other messaging to directly point to high-profile integrations, planned roadmap updates and specific application programming interfaces (APIs).

It’s also important for marketing teams to plan a lead generation strategy to reduce churn in the months ahead, ensuring proper attention is given to existing customers and retention efforts following customers who may have purchased under pressure.


Read more B2B buyer and lead generation insights from the Gartner Digital Markets buyer survey in “Navigate What’s Next.”
 

Methodology

The software buyer survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp from March 25 to April 5, 2020 and included more than 5,500 respondents. The respondents were website visitors on getapp.com, and the number of respondents varied by question.

The digital transformation survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp in April 2020 among 503 respondents who reported executive leadership roles at small businesses with 250 or fewer employees.
 

Andrew Conrad
Andrew is a Senior Content Writer for Gartner Digital Markets, where he writes about small business and technology with a focus on retail. He has also covered everything from accounting to church management to project management. Andrew and his wife, Emily, live in Austin with their rescue dog, Piper, who loves hiking on the Greenbelt Trail. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.

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