Gartner says B2B buyers want information with or without salespeople

B2B buyers only spend 17 percent of their time meeting with potential suppliers and 45 percent of their time researching on their own, according to Gartner’s latest research.

These buyers spend 38 percent of their time in internal meetings, with others in the buying committee, where sales people aren’t present.

They are also spending 27 percent of their time doing online research and 18 percent offline — typically on trusted websites and social media platforms or in-person events.

So Gartner are talking about the importance of buyer enablement — to help buyers find the information they need.

“Today’s buying journey isn’t just hard — it has reached a tipping point where it’s become nearly unnavigable without a significant amount of help,” said Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor at Gartner. “However, customers today don’t really care where that help comes from. A conversation with a sales rep isn’t an end in itself, it’s simply a means to gathering the information necessary to complete specific buying ‘jobs.’ But, what matters isn’t the conversation, it’s the information provided.”

Gartner defines buyer enablement as “the provision of information that supports the completion of critical buying jobs.”

“Much like sales enablement, sales organizations must focus on what we call ‘buyer enablement’,” Adamson says. “Sales teams need to harness empathy, and their deep industry and customer knowledge to develop and deploy information to help buyers buy — just as they do to enable sellers to sell more easily.”

In other words, it’s the age old challenge of getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

Adamson outlines two areas of buyer enablement — prescriptive advice and practical support.

Prescriptive advice involves do-this or don’t-do-this recommendations to ease the customer’s journey.

Practical support gives customers the tools to action the prescriptive advice.

So buyer enablement is about salespeople acting as “information connectors… curators or brokers of information rather than individual experts,” Adamson suggests.

So salespeople need to offer the buyer helpful tools and data. To help them simplify the buying process. This increases the chances that buyers will make a higher-value investment and reduce the chances they will fear regretting their investment.

As soon as B2B buyers add multiple suppliers to the process they spend even less time with your salespeople — as the above mentioned 17 percent of time with suppliers is split among all of them. So if they are speaking to three potential suppliers you only get an average of 5-6 percent of their time. Not very encouraging.

“When you start looking at this world of buying and just how complex it’s become, with all the different people involved and the amount of information… as individuals, we have incredibly limited access to our customers to have any kind of impact on all of that complexity,” Adamson says.

I personally translate this as your sales team need to:

— Help customers help themselves, enabling them to cut through the noise in their own organisation, and yours.

— Take control of the customers decision-making processes — as much as possible — to guide the buyer to make the best informed decision. You should be the expert in how to buy what you sell.

Questions to consider:

— How are you maximising the limited time you have with clients?

— How can you gain better control of your customers buying process?

— Is your sales process optimised to help your ideal client buy?

What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share your feedback below.