According to a recent report by analyst house Gartner, Inc. the legacy relationship between marketers and sales representatives may be going the way of the dodo. The findings, announced during the opening Keynote of the Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference, claim that in B2B business the process of the sales handoff is actually harmful to the modern customer experience.
Traditionally, customers in a B2B market have gone through six “jobs” when completing a purchase: Problem Identification, Solution Exploration, Requirements Building, Supplier Selection, Validation, and Consensus Creation. Gartner’s research shows that this method of viewing the buying cycle is somewhat outdated, as customers usually are in the midst of Validation and Consensus Creation throughout the whole process and revisit each step at least once. Modern customers are turning the buyers journey into something of a maze rather than a straight path.
“Customers today are trying to accomplish what are often non-sequential steps to complete a purchase and that has completely undermined the traditional model of linear deal progression,” said Brent Adamson, a Vice President at Gartner. “We are living in a post-handoff world.”
But at it’s core, the current climate of B2B purchases remains supplier-focused. According to Gartner, B2B buyers will constantly reference the supplier’s website and sales reps during the buying process and thereafter. “The best suppliers assume the role of ‘buying Sherpa’ guiding customers step-by-step through the complexities of a B2B buying journey that they themselves will struggle to overcome or even possibly anticipate on their own,” said Adamson.
Gartner claims that the most successful businesses going forward will be the ones streamlining the sales process as much as possible by incorporating marketing into their sales strategy and vice versa. And while more cooperation in business is always a good thing, companies seeking to go down this route should be cognizant of the fact that marketing and sales are two different departments. It’s likely you’d have to catch each one up to speed with what the other’s job is exactly and how they do it. Gartner’s proposal, while a no-brainer on paper, may be trickier to implement than they lead on.