5 Takeaways from the Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference for B2B Sales and Marketing Teams

Posted on 23 Oct

The LeadSift team recently attended the Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. As a whole, we found the conference to be extremely insightful, reinforcing some of our own observations on B2B buying and selling, and opening our eyes to new ways to look at the B2B selling process.

Over the course of the two and a half-day conference, we took extensive notes and kept track of some of the most impactful things that our team learned. Some of the concepts talked about in the different presentations flipped some commonly held conventions in B2B sales on their heads, and we thought it would be worth it for us to share it with our audience.

Here are the five key takeaways from Gartner’s Sales and Marketing conference that we think would be useful to any B2B sales and Marketing team:

 

Takeaway #1: B2B Buying is Hard

With more information available now than ever, pulling the trigger on a large purchase is harder to make than ever before. On top of trying to ensure that a company is choosing the appropriate solution, internal decision making teams are bigger than ever, with 61% of them including five or more people (the average is closer to 9). Each has their own needs and concerns that affect the final decision.

Externally, B2B buying can be complicated as well. Different solution providers have different processes, payment terms, and requirements to actually buy and begin the process of implementing their solution.

Most B2B organizations focus on sales enablement and making it as easy as possible for their sales teams to sell effectively. However, the theme presented at this event,which was highlighted and kicked into motion by Brent Adamson, Gartner’s Distinguished Vice President and Co Author of the Famous book “Challenger Sale” highlighted how in today’s B2B landscape, vendors need to go further than wowing a client with their solution and actually help them through the sales process. As vendors, we often have a better idea of the challenges our buyers face when trying to pull a solution across the finish line, whether it be going through Corporate Review Boards, going through Security Audits, or justifying ROI to the finance, our job as vendors is to now proactively create support for our champions to help them navigate these obstacles.

That can (and should) encompass evaluating vendors, determining fit, and paying for the solution.

 

 

Takeaway #2: Buying Journeys are No Longer Linear

Mapping out the buyer’s journey has always been a staple in B2B sales. Understanding where the prospect is in the evaluation process and ensuring that you can deliver messaging and content that aligns with their place in the buyer’s journey has been a critical focus of most B2B sales and marketing teams over the last decade.

But, those days are (kind of) gone.

Today, the buyer’s journey is much less linear and its harder to determine what stage a B2B buyer is currently in. The conference highlighted that as organizations, we like our orderly, linear progression, from MQL-> SAL->SQL->Opportunity->Contract Sent-> Deal…etc, however, this trajectory isn’t reflective to how a buyer flows. The way a B2B buyer’s journey was described at the conference was: A plate spinner, spinning 4 different plates, each plate representing a different job.

Gartner highlighted that the these 4 external jobs that when done well, create an optimal opportunity for selling a B2B solution: Problem Identification, Solution Exploration, Requirements Building, Supplier Selection. Like the plate spinner, the sales person needs to continually be reinforcing these jobs and ensure that all plates are spinning simultaneously. This is achieved through buyer enablement.

Instead of the linear journey, B2B buying is often done with a “jobs-to-be-done” approach. This long list of tasks includes things like meetings with consultants, live demos, reference checking, and a number of other tasks a company may want to undertake before investing in a solution. These tasks are supported with smaller, unplanned tasks that sales teams must identify and respond to in order to secure the sale.

 

Takeaway #3: Be Helpful

When it comes to being successful in B2B sales, companies should focus on how they can be as helpful as possible to their buyers. How can they help them see their problem (or the solution) in a different light? How can they help them in the decision-making and evaluation process?

Use previous experiences with prospects in the buying journeys to inform new strategies and educate them on subjects that they might not know to ask about. Being helpful is about anticipating problems and hurdles that buyers might encounter and providing the information that they need to deal with those issues.

 

Takeaway #4: Timing is Science and Not Art

In a presentation that focused on the teachings of Daniel H. Pink from his popular book “When,” which focuses on identifying when you are at your peak performance and batching tasks that are well-suited for your performance level.

In short — you want to handle analytical tasks when you perform well (early in the day for most of us), and handle more mundane tasks when you aren’t functioning at peak capacity. Understanding when you are at your best, when you need a break, and how to schedule your day can improve your effectiveness and help you to be more productive.

 

Takeaway #5: Customers are Channel Agnostic

Regardless of where customers are at in the buying journey, they are channel agnostic from where they receive their information. It is important now more than ever to pull the curtain back to enable buyers to access the information they need without having to talk to sales. There is no longer a clear handoff between marketing and sales. Both sides of the organization must be prepared to help throughout the buying journey.

 

Contact the team at LeadSift today to schedule a demo and learn more about how intent data could transform your sales and marketing teams.

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