Chances are you have a few different types of prospects. They may ultimately all reach the same conclusion, whether that’s choosing you or your top competitor. But differentiating factors such as role, authority, need and subject matter expertise all impact a buyer’s journey to making a technology purchase.
The process of buying enterprise technology today can take anywhere from a few weeks to well over a year, depending on the product and who’s doing the buying. Generally, though, in B2B tech marketing, there are ample opportunities to step into a potential buyer’s consideration set. But there will also be chances to lose out to the competition.
Research companies such as Forrester and Gartner are shedding light on the growing shift of technology spend. Increasingly, CMOs, COOs, line managers and others in senior management are becoming the lead decision-makers for IT purchases.
Why are CMO and other business executives expanding their responsibilities to this area? Isn’t that the CIO’s job?
In order to engage as marketers with a buyer of less technical experience, it’s important to understand why this shift is happening. Here are three key drivers of this trend:
For the past few years, B2B technology companies have seen an unprecedented shift in buying responsibility among their customers. Today, it’s often no longer the CIO, but instead the CMO, line manager or other business buyer who has emerged as the decision-maker on technology purchases.
The rise of this new buyer — typically senior management in marketing, sales and operations — has presented enterprise tech companies with new challenges. One of these challenges is how to create content to engage a buyer with less technological expertise and perhaps more focus on cut-to-the-chase results than IT buyers of the past.
Business buyers don’t conduct research and reach conclusions in the same ways as CIOs. They often start by seeking out high-level information to give them a grounding in a technology or industry niche, and then create a short list of prospective vendors based on a combination of third-party endorsement (such as via analysts, the news media, and social media influencers) and persuasive vendor content.
Your company may be executing in all the inbound marketing areas such as social media, email and content creation. Your social following may be growing, email subscribers increasing and website ranking rising in search engine results. But at the end of the day, we all want to hold our marketing responsible for bottom-line results. We want to know how all of it is contributing to revenue growth.
But the challenge with calculating B2B marketing return is that marketing isn’t responsible for closing sales. It’s responsible for providing qualified, ready-to-buy contacts to sales teams. So unless these two departments are aligned, you’re going to have trouble holding marketing accountable for hard dollars.
If you’re having trouble with this, it may be because you’ve skipped the three initial steps to aligning marketing efforts to sales goals. Fear not, though, because we’re sharing what we’ve found puts companies back in control of aligning these two departments.