There Is More Than One B2B Buyer’s Journey

To help our clients understand their buyers, SiriusDecisions conducts significant and objective primary research. One of the most interesting discoveries revealed via our most recent b-to-b buying study is that there is not one buyer’s journey. In fact, there are three common, distinct scenarios of buying behavior that we isolated. It’s important to know which buying scenario that an offering or campaign is associated with in order to align go-to-market strategies to how b-to-b buyers buy.

Buying Spectrum

Buying Scenario: Committee

This is a highly complex purchasing process; the buying decision is phased, structured and hierarchical. This scenario is typically associated with large buying entities, most commonly organizations with $1B or more in annual revenue, and representative of offering types with price ranges in the hundreds of thousands to more than $1 million. The length of the buying cycle clusters around six months; however, we observed many instances of the purchasing decision lasting longer – as much as a year or more to make a decision to buy (licensed members can read the brief “The SiriusDecisions Buying Decision Process Framework”). In a committee scenario, our study showed  that six to 10 individuals were involved in the decision to purchase across multiple departments or functions (buying centers). The committee buying scenario requires the highest level of interaction between the buying entity and the provider organization to facilitate a decision to purchase an offering (licensed members can read the brief “The SiriusDecisions Buying Interaction Model”). We observed, on average, approximately 18 interactions (nine non-human intereactions and nine human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

Buying Scenario

Buying Scenario: Consensus

Consensus was the most common buying scenario that SiriusDecisions observed across all organizational size dimensions. Consensus is a team-based buying scenario where multiple people are involved across the organization. The typical price range for an offering in this scenario was $50-500MM USD (with longer tails for billion-plus for organizations with more than $500MM in revenue, and longer tails for under $50MM for emerging organizations [under $50MM in revenue]). In this buying scenario, the decision is horizontal and canvasses multiple departments or functions. It is not as complex as the committee buying decision because does not go to a senior level executive team, but it is still moderately complex as consensual decisionmaking is much harder to facilitate, given there are so many dynamics given the involvement of multiple buyer personas that must be influenced and informed in order to attain the vote to purchase the offering. We observed, on average, approximately 14 (seven non-human interactions and seven human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

Buying Scenario: Independent

This is a simple buying scenario where one or just a couple of people were involved in the decision to purchase, and the decision was easier to facilitate than committee or consensus decisions. The decision to purchase is made by one or two buyer personas and does not go either horizontal (consensus) or vertical (committee); the decision remains in a specific function or department. Thus, because the purchase is independent of the consensual voting or formal committee approval-type dynamics and there is no need to gain consensus represented by the other buying scenarios, the decision can be made independently or in isolation. It’s important to not confuse this scenario with transactional or e-commerce purchases. While the independent scenario is most related to those types of purchasing methods, our research has identified offerings purchased over the Internet in the other buying scenarios as well. This buying scenario is the least complex, as there is less impact from internal influencers and the provider only has to inform and persuade one or two key buyer personas. This makes it much easier to devise messaging, content and campaigns. The independent buying scenario requires the least amount of interaction between the buying entity and the provider organization to facilitate a decision to purchase an offering. We observed, on average, approximately 12 interactions (six non-human interactions and six human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

The 2015 SiriusDecisions B-to-B Buying Study reports observations from studying the recent b-to-b buying decisions of over 1,300 b-to-b executives across North America and Europe. For more information on the reports (available to members of the SiriusDecisions portfolio marketing research and advisory service), download the brochure. For members of the portfolio marketing service, click here to read the full research brief with deeper data and insights.

Are you a modern Product Marketer?

Sirius - 5 Key Traits ImageProduct marketing is undergoing a massive sea change as the functional role adapts to changing internal and external conditions, such as the product to solution transformation, shifts to greater customer-centricity, an increasing need to rationalize robust and outgrown offering portfolios to the marketplace and most notably, changes in b-to-b buying behavior.

As a research analyst at SiriusDecisions and the director of the Portfolio Marketing service, I have the unique privilege of observing the amazing transformational trends occurring in product marketing.  Here are the five key traits of a best-in-class product marketer who thrives and succeeds in the midst of all the change.

  1. They design audience-centric go-to-market (GTM) strategies. Modern product marketers devise the GTM strategy and architecture for how offerings will be expressed to the marketplace, and determine the market requirements and competitive analysis to fuel innovation.
  2. They know their customers and buyers – deeply.Modern product marketers understand buyer personas and how these personas buy. This information informs campaigns, content and innovation. They have exceptional skills and techniques that enable them to segment, size and gain alignment on the buyer audiences to target.
  3. They create messaging that resonates. Modern product marketers can craft effective audience-centric messaging and value propositions. They are adept at interfacing with enterprise-wide content processes for both sellers and buyers and are focused on content effectiveness.
  4. They drive alignment across product, marketing and sales. Modern product marketers incubate or improve the go-to-market workflow process for bringing new or existing offerings to market. They are passionate about driving clarity of roles and alignment between marketing, product management and business units.
  5. They help sales sell. Period. Modern product marketers enable sellers to sell more via knowledge transfer, content and programs that increase sales productivity within the offering portfolio. They care about sellers; driving sales productivity is what keeps them up at night. They break down barriers and stop at nothing to ensure sales has the knowledge they need to inform buyers, as well as the content and tools they need to create demand, compete and win new business.

Author: Marisa Kopec