Gartner research on B2B Buying Behavior shows that Buying teams consistently take three steps early in their buying process as they move from inspiration to exploration (or even early evaluation or engagement):
- Discussions with colleagues trigger new efforts.
- They discover or look for insights from people they perceive to be independent experts
- They research specific vendors directly, usually via the vendor Web site
These three steps always seem to happen.
But there are inconsistencies. The order of these activities is not predictable. Some prefer to start internally. Others get intrigued as a result of reading articles, blog posts, or hearing presentations and Webinars by independent experts. And, vendors themselves trigger exploration with compelling marketing campaigns (note: the vendor triggered explorations are somewhat more likely to result in a no-decision than the other two approaches.
This reinforces what we have been advising for years. As a vendor, you can not control the buying process. Even if you generate the initial interest, the buying team will be doing lots of other activities, independent of you. But there are things you can do:
- Provide ways to facilitate sharing information among the buying team. And look at your content from the perspective of the ease of sharing (and really conveying the information) across the buying team.
- Help teams discover influencers that follow your space. And encourage them to seek them out (and yes, you should guide them to independent influencers that have a favorable view of your company and your products/services–when the customer situation fits.
- Finally, provide a mix of ways for prospects to discover you to kick off their process. Provide compelling insights that get them to think about things in new ways. Then encourage them to validate with an influencer or discuss internally
Recognizing these three activities that occur early in buying processes is key to helping buying teams get a good start on their buying efforts so that they will make progress and get value from their ultimate purchase.