Many sales leaders believe the sales process will be easier and shorter when buyers first have access to information, reviews and/or product trials. This may be the case in some industries or for transactional purchases, but is not the case for complex purchases.
Gartner research shows that the number of individuals involved in the buying process, whether as decision makers or influencers, remains large, priorities shift and sellers compete to ensure their project doesn’t get canceled. Despite complexity, sales and marketing leaders often fall back on tried and true methods and repeatable processes. Unfortunately, this spells trouble in a more complex selling environment.
Ahead of Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, October 9 – 11, 2018, in Las Vegas, NV, we asked Gartner experts to share the most important trends impacting sales and marketing leaders in today’s complex buying environment.
Sales and marketing leaders currently underestimate the disruptive implications of recent shifts in B2B buying behavior. Typically marketing owns early buying stages, while sales owns the later stages. This division of ownership often means the commercial model is built around the hand-off from marketing, predominantly digitally, to sales, which takes over in person as customers move through a purchase. However, our research indicates buying does not happen this way.
Instead, it indicates customers must complete a set of six specific jobs or tasks in order to successfully complete a complex B2B purchase. However, those six jobs rarely, if ever, occur in a predictable or sequential order. Our research also found that customers give no clear channel preference for any given job.
The result is a picture of buying dramatically different from suppliers’ current approach to selling and marketing. B2B buying jobs occur simultaneously, not sequentially. From a customer’s perspective, there is no “hand-off” from marketing to sales or digital to in-person. And companies will need to rapidly adapt to better align to customers’ channel-agnostic, nonlinear buying behavior.
See Brent Adamson at his Sales & Marketing Conference sessions:
- Gartner Keynote: A New Model for Customer Engagement
- Gartner Keynote: Building a System for Buyer Enablement
- Gartner Keynote: The Path Ahead
Despite the buzz around account-based marketing (ABM), many leaders fail to understand the full implications of how it impacts go-to-market strategy. ABM isn’t just a more-focused demand generation or prospecting program. It requires a cultural shift, especially among sales and marketing staff.
Often, sales leaders aren’t clear about what’s expected from their sellers and how a shift to ABM represents a change in behavior. Sales leaders need to work very closely with marketing leaders so that both sides are in complete harmony and lock-step around what ABM means, how the programs will be run, what the roles and responsibilities are, and how success will be measured.