Optimize Your B2B Technology Marketing Plan for the Expert Buyers!

Read this Blog for a 5-point B2B Technology Marketing Plan to Win Business in the Tech Markets and Industry!

By
Mikko Nurmimäki
on
March 16, 2020
Category:
Technology Marketing
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Why is B2B marketing in Technology and Industrial sectors so difficult nowadays? Simple. It’s because B2B buying has become so complicated – buying teams are big, purchase decisions take a long time, and vendors are engaged late in the process! If you want to succeed better in the technology markets, you must understand how the expert buyers work, and then optimize your marketing plan accordingly! This blog explains how the expert buyers in Tech Companies and the Industry work, and outlines a 5-point B2B technology marketing plan!


How Has B2B Buying Changed?

Selling and buying complex Technology and Industrial products and systems in the B2B markets have changed dramatically; meanwhile, the world became connected and digital. The traditional vendor-driven sales push process has now completely transformed into a modern pull process driven by B2B buyers who are experienced technology experts.

When the buyers sit on the driver’s seat in the digital B2B market place, technology vendors are struggling to create effective marketing strategies.

On the other hand, according to Gartner’s research on the B2B buying journey, 77% of B2B buyers say that purchases have become very complex and challenging.

The critical goal in marketing is to remove the obstacles of buying – this applies to technology and industrial sectors too. Before kicking off your next marketing plan, it helps if you understand how the buying of complex technology products and systems works. The following chapters will explain to you the key points!

How do the Expert B2B Buyers work?

Buying Teams Are Big!

The modern buying process of technology products and systems in the B2B markets involves more stakeholders than ever before. This is especially true when a company is investing in a complex and broad system, which interfaces several functions on the company, and impacts multiple departments.

A typical buying team involves several expert decision-makers from different departments of the company – in addition to the purchasing, these can include IT, product management, billing and invoicing, legal, network management, and more.  

B2B buying team
B2B buying teams are big, which can slow down the process.

Each member of the buyer team has their own requirements for the investment, and they have to join a complex decision-making process to align their varying objectives to achieve a single coherent decision for the purchase.

The more there are stakeholders involved, the harder it becomes to come up with a unite purchase decision. This can sometimes end up being a long and dragging project.

5-step Decision Making Process

When there are so many stakeholders involved in the B2B buying process, it is easy to understand that aligning the different organizational objectives behind a single coherent vendor selection decision, is not straightforward.

The vendor selection process can be described with these steps:

- Identification of a problem – the organization discovers that something must be done!

- Research for a solution – what solutions exist? How have others solved the same problem?

- Building a list of requirements – what  the solution should do for us? How it should interface our systems and processes?

- Vendor selection – which vendor best meets our needs?

- Seeking consensus – we must consolidate requirements and reach a collective decision.

The Buying Process is not Linear

As Gartner’s study reveals, modern B2B buying doesn’t follow a predictable, linear formula. Instead, the stakeholders are circling around the purchasing process. The process doesn't progress along with a  sequential order. The stakeholders need to communicate and exchange information extensively.  


Gartner's B2B buying journey
Gartner's modern B2B journey.

Vendors are Engaged Late in the Process

Expert B2B buyers are delaying the point when they engage the vendors. According to The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing study conducted by Gartner and Google, a typical B2B buyer will not contact the vendors’ sales teams until an average of 57% of their buying process is done.

BB buyers contact vendors later
B2B buyers contact vendors later.

Gartner's study, on the other hand, showed that B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time meeting with potential vendors. And, the more there are vendors, the shorter time buyers can dedicate for each.

Simply, the expert B2B buyers cut off the vendors from the process, and do the initial selection and shortlisting based on the content they find online.

As a marketer, this might sound like a good thing because a sales-ready buyer comes to you. But it is not. Consider that you cannot influence and educate the buyers in the early stage, before the initial shortlisting, which is the most critical moment during the process.

Example - When a company is looking to purchase an IoT system, the buyer team embarks on the project. Vendor research is the first step – that's done by searching for information online. The stakeholders in the purchase process visit a variety of websites of known IoT vendors; they also search for information on Google, check various industry forums to see what their peers have to say about different IoT vendors, and they read blogs and industry news to support their vendor selection decision making. As a result of the online research, the team comes up with a shortlist of a few vendors, which they then contact or invite for meetings to advance the process.


Buyers Compare Vendors based on Online Information

How do the expert B2B buyers collect the information they need for the vendor research? According to the State of B2B Procurement Study by Accenture’s Acquity Group, 94% of the buyers collect information about vendors and solutions from various online sources.

The expert buyers have become more consumer-like in their work. They search for information on Google, read technology media articles, reviews, LinkedIn posts, and ads.

The picture below clearly shows how online behavior is broken down across various channels.

B2B buyers' online behaviour
B2B buyers' online behaviour.


Five ways to Optimize your B2B Technology Marketing Plan

To conclude - the modern B2B business is a pull process driven by the expert buyers. In technology and industrial sectors, buyers are subject matter experts who search for information online and compare competing vendors, products, and systems. The vendors are invited in the process later, after the initial shortlisting. The process of coming up with a single coherent vendor selection decision to make the purchase is a long and winding process. As Gartner's research discovered, 77% of B2B buyers say that purchases have become very difficult.

Here’s how you can take this into account to optimize your marketing plan according to the experts' buying behaviour:

1. Address All Stakeholders of the Team

The more there are stakeholders involved, the harder it becomes to come up with a unite purchase decision. This is where your marketing team can help the buyers by creating insightful content that addresses the specific needs all the key stakeholders in the team! Ensure that you have enough capacity for high quality technology content creation!

2. Address all Steps along with the Buying Process

Further, your content should answer the buyers’ concerns and questions on all of the different steps along with the buying process.

3. Make Content Easy-to-share

As said, B2B buying process is complicated, many experts are involved, and they need to align their interests. Marketers must approach the stakeholders in parallel, and channel the relevant content to the right recipients. Make content easy to share – you make internal communication easier for the different stakeholders!

4. Build a Strong Technology Thought Leadership Image

The expert B2B buyers search for information on Google, read technology media articles, compare reviews, and follow the online space closely. As a marketer, you must build a strong online visibility, and strengthen your technology thought leadership image on all the relevant channels.

5. Rank your Content on the Top of Search Results

Buyers do not typically contact vendors before they have done the initial shortlisting based on the content they find online. Practically, the best way to get your company included in the buyer’s shortlist is to create content that ranks at the top on Google, for the Right Keywords!

Mikko Nurmimäki

Mikko Nurmimaki is a technology marketing specialist with 15 years of experience from world-class tech brands such as Nokia, Ericsson, Spirent and more. Before founding Grip Agency, Mikko held product marketing responsibility at Spirent’s Connectivity Technologies and Management Business Unit.