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Wasting Time – The Bane of Buying and Selling

by Hank Barnes  |  October 21, 2014  |  2 Comments

Nothing bugs me more than wasting time.    I don’t like being on time for meetings and waiting several minutes for others to join.   I don’t like reading about a product that seems interesting, only to find nothing of real value as I read on.    And I don’t like getting calls and emails from people offering me things I don’t want or need (and in many cases it would be obvious, if the caller/emailer did even a tiny, tiny bit of research on me, that I would not want or need it in my current role).

Time is precious, we all value ours, but sometimes, when we are marketing or selling, we don’t look at it from our customer’s perspective.  We are okay with wasting their time and interrupting their daily work.   When the shoe’s on the other foot, we (or at least I) act very negatively.


As with think with a humanist perspective, the time has come to be more respectful about time.    Evaluate all that you do from a marketing and sales perspective with an eye toward “could I be wasting my customer’s time.”    Here are some of the biggest time wasters I see:

  • Enticing a prospect with some basic, but useful content, then forcing them to register (very early in the buying process)
  • Sending your sales team 30-50 page product guides that tell them everything about the product, but little about who can benefit from it and why.
  • Saying your product is a fit for businesses “of all sizes”, when it’s really idea for small or mid-market companies (wasting the time of prospects from large companies).
  • Having your first face to face meeting with a prospect and spending the first 20 minutes telling them things about your company they already know from their research.
  • Writing case studies where it take 3 or 4 pages to get to the most important part–the business results your customer achieved.
  • Forcing customers to tell you all kinds of things you should already know before you provide support.
  • Putting videos on your site without any context setting–forcing them to watch some of it to see if it has any value.

And the list could go on and on and on.

Imagine if every interaction, marketing activity, and all your materials wasted no time–building off each other to help guide a buyer toward a purchase decision efficiently?  Could that set you apart from your competitors?  I think so.

Time is a two way street—your prospects should not waste your time.  Now some of this may be a bit inevitable.  If a buying organization has to get 3 quotes, you know that 2 of them are largely a waste of time.   You’ll have to assess if you have a legitimate shot at swaying the decision or if your approach to this “losing” response positions you better to win other business in the future.  If it doesn’t, maybe you don’t respond—and provide valid “time saving” reasons why.    Further, Ask you prospects what they need from you so that you don’t waste their time-and they don’t waste yours.

As more and more people deal with information overload, becoming a “time savior” could make a big difference in the lives of your prospects, your customers, and your peers.  What do you think?  How much time do you waste each day?  And how much time do others force you to waste?

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Category: future-of-sales  go-to-market  

Tags: buying-process  marketing  selling  time  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Wasting Time – The Bane of Buying and Selling

  1. Hi Hank. Great encapsulation of some rather big time wasting efforts. A simple solution to avoiding this mismanagement of time, effort and energy is to shift your lens to “see” things from your customer’s perspective. Good stuff.

  2. Mike Bell says:

    Amen! I’m considering tattooing this on our marketing wall. The real key is for marketers to make this distinction with every piece of content.
    Great article.

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