In today’s digitally driven world, the marketing to sales handoff should no longer exist, according to Gartner. The findings were announced during the opening keynote at the Gartner Sales & Marketing Conference where Gartner experts explained that effective B2B selling today is no longer about progressing a customer through a linear buying journey.
“Over the years we’ve seen B2B sales and marketing struggle mightily to progress customers through the purchase process. The problem is, for the customer, buying is not really about progression, it’s about completion,” said Brent Adamson, distinguished vice president at Gartner. “Customers today are trying to accomplish what are often nonsequential steps to complete a purchase and that has completely undermined the traditional model of linear deal progression. We are living in a post-handoff world.”
B2B Buying “Jobs”
Gartner research reveals that B2B buyers must complete six distinct activities — or “jobs” — to successfully complete a purchase today:
- Problem Identification
- Solution Exploration
- Requirements Building
- Supplier Selection
- Consensus Creation
While nearly every successful B2B purchase progresses through the first four jobs, customers simultaneously address “validation” and “consensus creation” throughout the entire process. In effect, these two jobs are always on, even while customers are working to complete the other four jobs in the process.
Gartner research shows that most B2B buyers will revisit nearly every “buying job” at least once before they make a purchase. The result: a customer buying journey that resembles more of a maze than a linear path.
To complicate things further, B2B buyers utilize both sales reps and the supplier website — equally — for discovery and validation throughout their buying journey. In effect, this means it isn’t a sales problem or a digital problem that organizations should be trying to solve for. Rather, it’s a supplier problem that sales and marketing must jointly address with high-quality, consistent, cross-channel information to help customers complete the purchase jobs they need to accomplish.
“Unfortunately, the current commercial process today is not built to support this new world of B2B buying,” added Mr. Adamson. “The organizations that will succeed going forward will be those that materially simplify the purchase process for customers. It’s on marketing and sales teams to take the customer by the hand and guide them through the purchase, from start to end.
“The best suppliers assume the role of ‘buying Sherpa’ guiding customers step-by-step through the complexities of a B2B buying journey that they themselves will struggle to overcome or even possibly anticipate on their own.”