Over the past decade, there has been an explosion in the number and types of information sources available to SMB IT and business decision makers. It is no longer the case that these ITDMs and BDMs can be moved predictably through a process that starts with an initial inquiry and progresses through education to qualification and to a sale. Instead, technology buyers are increasingly self-educated and make contact with a supplier, not with an initial inquiry, but with a fully-formed request.
Techaisle’s survey of 1120 US SMBs, 360 on Balance of Authority: decision cycle, shows that SMBs engage with IT supplier at 50% decision stage. In fact, worst still, the IT supplier’s and channel partner’s role begins in when price, deployment & support are the only points left to discuss.
Techaisle’s corresponding survey of 1246 US SMBs, Influencing the SMB buyers’ journey, shows that “Campaign marketing” has become a relic of an earlier age, replaced by a content marketing brew combining “thought leadership” (to engage new prospects) and ‘digital discovery’ (to ensure visibility for the thought leadership).
At a higher level, the notion of a marketing funnel has been supplanted by focus on buyer personas and the buyer’s journey, as marketers look to map ‘sticky’ content to digital pathways traversed by high-priority targets. This is a particularly onerous task in the SMB market, since many vendors lack direct experience with customers and prospects, managing them programmatically rather than individually.
Techaisle’s research into non-IT buyers’ information sources, channels and KDFs spans seven groups: three with C-level titles (CEO, CFO/COO, CMO) and four with management responsibility in departments aligned with these C-level executives (sales VPs/directors, sales managers, finance directors/managers, and operations/admin directors/managers). Techaisle studied 13 different modes of influence and 14 different points of influence. Figures below illustrates the Top 5 modes and points of influence that are preferred by the C-level group.
Influencing during business requirements purchase decision stage
Influencing during evaluation of technical requirements purchase decision stage
Influencing during potential solution and supplier identification purchase decision stage
Influencing during solution and supplier selection purchase decision stage
If there is one thing that we have learned in 30 years of research on the IT industry, it is that where change is constant, clarity is essential. With 360 on Balance of Authority: decision cycle and Influencing the SMB buyers’ journey, Techaisle is providing an important point of insight into how vendors can develop awareness and intercept demand in the absence of traditional campaign marketing options.
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