Here are some highlights from our research, including several steps that sales should take to help reduce the buying cycle length:
- IT Buyers' Time is Extremely Valuable: About 60% of IT buyers indicate that they will likely spend 46+ hours per week on work-related activities in the next 12 months. More specifically, 24% of buyers' time is spent on post-purchase IT product or solution-related activities. Thus, Technology sales organizations need to optimize the value that they bring to the average IT buyer during their infrequent interactions. Those companies that accomplish this goal will certainly have a competitive differentiator in this difficult economic environment.
- The Size and Complexity of Buying Teams are Increasing: On average, 4-5 people are involved in influencing the vendor short list and in making the purchase decision. Sales must have a good understanding of who these individuals are, and ensure that they cater to their specific needs (e.g., identify and target these individuals as part of account planning – clients should refer to IDC's Best Practices in Account Planning, leverage of internal company knowledge and experts to best meet client needs – think sales enablement and leverage IDC's Sales Advisory Service's database of best practices, frameworks and benchmarks in this area).
- Vendor Information is of High Importance to IT Buyers: 22% of IT buyers value product demos and proof of concepts the most. Both marketing and sales need to collaborate on developing the most relevant and valuable content for their prospects. Additionally, sales representatives play a key role in delivering the right information to the buyers' teams.
- Buyers Wish to Reduce Their Buying Cycle Length by 40%. Even though IDC found that 2/3 of the delay is a result of IT buyers' own buying processes, there are still actions that sales can take to help reduce the length it currently takes for their customers to buy from them. (click to enlarge the below chart) Technology buyers are expecting their vendors' sales teams to:
- "Be prepared with information for my needs and not stats about the company"
- "Follow up — it really helps to push the project along and to make sure that it's not getting bowled over by other initiatives and then just put on the back burn. Help keep the project in the forefront of the company's mind."
- "Come to the table fully prepared to answer all technical questions. That may require inclusion of technical personnel in the initial sales meetings."
- Are Your Sales Teams Leveraging Social Collaboration to Reach Prospects? 20% of buyers have been contacted by sales reps through Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media applications. Research shows that independent party blogs/communities are the most highly valued by IT buyers, with vendor blogs/communities not lagging far behind. These findings indicate that technology buyers do value social media channels, and IDC expects this trend to expand. Therefore, technology vendors should continue to increase their investment in social media from the marketing and sales perspective. IT buyers are also looking at sites like YouTube for product demos, LinkedIn to check references, and follow vendors on Twitter.