Recently, I shared some of the early findings from Gartner’s most recent survey on technology buying habits, discussing how (for our respondents) 43% of the software buying efforts they explored were ad hoc–not part of any established plans. In recently published research (Gartner clients can access here), we explore the topic in much greater detail. This will also be the focus of one of my sessions at the upcoming Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference in San Diego, April 30-May 2.
One of the most interesting issues that emerged from the research (and is discussed in the research) is the comparison of ad hoc and planned buying efforts. Logically, it would seem that organizations would complete (i.e. make a purchase/sign a contract) more (maybe even many more) of their planned efforts. It turns out, that is not the case.
Our respondents reported that they completed 77% of their planned buying efforts and 75% of their ad hoc efforts. Not much difference there (note: we had a number of respondents who said they made a purchase for every project they considered–planned or ad hoc. If we remove those respondents from the pool, the completion rates drop into the mid 60’s (so for every 3 buying efforts considered, they complete 2).
There are some groups, namely those that consider very few purchases as well as a couple of key enterprise personalities, that complete a higher percentage of their planned purchases. There are also a few that complete more ad hoc.
What does this mean for vendors?
First, the idea of getting involved in, or even driving the requirements for , a planned purchase is no longer the sole recipe for success. In fact, it is not a guarantee that anything will be purchased.
Second, relying on budget as a key qualification criteria is a mistake. The good news is this is being used less and less, but with ad hoc purchases generally as likely to happen as planned, the key budget criteria is being able to find it somewhere else.
With relates to the third point, vendors must constantly assess the customer situation and connect with or create urgency. It’s not just about establishing preference for you vs. competitors on the situation you are focused on; its establishing preference for that project vs. others.
As enterprise agility grows in importance, confirming priorities is a mandatory part of any sales efforts.
I hope you can join us at the conference to explore this and other ideas to help drive growth.
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