Customers are reaching vendor and partner selection without the channel even knowing in a dramatic shift in buying behaviour, with the supply chain missing key ‘moments’ during the purchasing process.
Gone are the days of speaking to a salesperson or filling out a website enquiry form, instead, end-users are bypassing the marketing cycles of vendors, distributors and partners through a consumer-like approach to technology acquisition.
“To save you a lot of reading the basic fact is that the future B2B buyer will look a lot like a consumer,” said Jay McBain, principal analyst of Channel Partnerships and Alliances at Forrester. “Think about the last time you bought a car? It’s a highly considered product which is expensive and places a big dent in your monthly budget meaning you go through a process before purchasing - key ‘moments’ very early in that journey.”
Speaking ahead of his analyst session at EDGE 2020 - Mastering Buyer Psychology: How customers select vendors / partners - McBain said that 81 per cent of consumers will first conduct a Google search before moving onto social media to ask questions to learn more about the product, in this example, cars.
“There’s 365 different types of cars which is one for every day of the year so the consumer has to start quickly narrowing that down into something they actually want to buy,” he outlined. “Search, social media, magazines, YouTube videos all represent distinct ‘moments’ early in that journey.
“Now flip this back to technology - the future buyer of software, hardware, security and all the areas which the channel sells is going to look more like a car buyer than what the RFP and procurement processes of today look like.”
In response, McBain advised partners to influence those early buying ‘moments’.
“At Forrester we talk to 690,000 customers every year so we have a strong sense as to what these ‘moments’ look like,” he added. “On average, five different partners are present early in that journey which is the key influencing part before vendor or partner selection occurs. This is the time to help a customer go from almost zero knowledge to the point in which they can make selection.”
McBain said 68 per cent of technology buyers now adopt a “digital-only journey” from a purchasing standpoint, throwing into serious question the future success rates of traditional channel marketing practices.
“Customers are doing their best to avoid sales calls,” he warned. “They don’t want to sign up for more information on a vendor or partner website. In fact, they are doing everything in their power to avoid that to ensure they don’t have sales people all over them - they want to go on this buying journey alone.
“The scary thing is, customers are finishing this journey and getting to selection in the majority of cases. This means a vendor or a partner might lose a deal without ever knowing there even was a deal.”
McBain will deliver exclusive insights during EDGE 2020, an invite-only virtual experience set for 10-11 November, playing host to the most influential business leaders in technology across Australia and New Zealand.
Underpinned by unique market research, EDGE 2020 will outline local customer investment plans, upcoming end-user projects and new partner requirements, leveraging CIO brand insights in the process.