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Las Vegas, NV., October 9, 2018

Gartner Says the Marketing-to-Sales Handoff Should No Longer Exist

Experts Discuss How Sales and Marketing Leaders Succeed in Today’s New World of B2B Buying at the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference, Taking Place October 9-11 in Las Vegas

In today’s digitally driven world, the marketing to sales handoff should no longer exist, according to Gartner, Inc. The findings were announced here today during the opening keynote at the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference where Gartner experts explained that effective B2B selling today is no longer about progressing a customer through a linear buying journey.

“Over the years we’ve seen B2B sales and marketing struggle mightily to progress customers through the purchase process. The problem is, for the customer, buying is not really about progression, it’s about completion,” said Brent Adamson, distinguished vice president at Gartner. “Customers today are trying to accomplish what are often nonsequential steps to complete a purchase and that has completely undermined the traditional model of linear deal progression. We are living in a post-handoff world.”

B2B Buying “Jobs”

Gartner research reveals that B2B buyers must complete six distinct activities — or “jobs” — to successfully complete a purchase today:

  • Problem Identification
  • Solution Exploration
  • Requirements Building
  • Supplier Selection
  • Validation
  • Consensus Creation

While nearly every successful B2B purchase progresses through the first four jobs, customers simultaneously address “validation” and “consensus creation” throughout the entire process. In effect, these two jobs are always on, even while customers are working to complete the other four jobs in the process.

Gartner research shows that most B2B buyers will revisit nearly every “buying job” at least once before they make a purchase. The result: a customer buying journey that resembles more of a maze than a linear path (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. A Long, Hard Slog, 2018

Source: Gartner (2018)

To complicate things further, B2B buyers utilize both sales reps and the supplier website — equally — for discovery and validation throughout their buying journey. In effect, this means it isn’t a sales problem or a digital problem that organizations should be trying to solve for. Rather, it’s a supplier problem that sales and marketing must jointly address with high-quality, consistent, cross-channel information to help customers complete the purchase jobs they need to accomplish.

“Unfortunately, the current commercial process today is not built to support this new world of B2B buying,” added Mr. Adamson. “The organizations that will succeed going forward will be those that materially simplify the purchase process for customers. It’s on marketing and sales teams to take the customer by the hand and guide them through the purchase, from start to end.

“The best suppliers assume the role of ‘buying Sherpa’ guiding customers step-by-step through the complexities of a B2B buying journey that they themselves will struggle to overcome or even possibly anticipate on their own.”

For more information on what organizations can do to succeed in this new world of B2B buying, tune in tomorrow for Brent Adamson’s day two keynote at the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference October 10 in Las Vegas.

Additional details are available to Gartner for Sales Leaders and Gartner for Marketers clients in the reports ”Elevating the Value of Sales Interactions” and ”Rethinking Digital Customer Engagement,” respectively.

About the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference

Sales and marketing leaders face unprecedented changes in customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference 2018, taking place October 9-11 in Las Vegas, sales and marketing leaders will learn from the latest research, Gartner experts and esteemed peers, to guide them through this time of change. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSMC.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit