Seventy per cent of global technology buyers are exploring more ways to purchase technology this year*, however vendor engagement strategies continue to underdeliver when it comes to meeting tech buyer expectations, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.
“Technology providers often create go-to-market (GTM) strategies with limited insights into how an enterprise will make a buying decision,” said Christy Uher Ferguson, research vice president at Gartner. “As the size of buying teams continues to increase, ideal customer profiles (ICPs) increase in importance. While understanding individual buyer personas is important to align messaging and content to specific role-based needs, buying teams act as an enterprise, with enterprise goals first and individual goals second.”
Four Types of Tech Buying Organizations
Gartner identified four marketing clusters** of technology buying enterprises based on key behaviors that influence GTM tactics – the Cooperatives, the Strict Planners, the Catalysts and the Business-Leds.
“The best consumer marketers tune their messages and channel strategies based on the behaviors of their ideal customers, but this is rarely done in the world of B2B technology marketing,” said Hank Barnes, distinguished research vice president at Gartner. “Gartner’s behavioral marketing clusters make it easier for tech providers to focus their efforts to be most appealing to the enterprises that are the best fit for their solutions with the right message and approach at the right time.”
The Cooperatives make up the largest group of enterprises, representing 43% of buyers, but they are also the most challenging to predict. Their cooperative approach often means that they are less clear on what matters most to them — everything seems to matter equally.
When exploring a new product or service, Cooperatives said that they evenly use all information types to learn more about it, including thought leadership, the product’s or service’s features, and product reviews.
Cooperatives said they leverage self-driven search and interactions equally for both new technology and replacement technology buying decisions. In fact, Cooperatives evenly cited self-driven search with third-party and vendor partner websites and interactions with vendors and partners in both buying situations.
Strict Planners are often coveted as targets due to the clarity with which they define their buying process. Strict Planners prefer proven technology that aligns to their strategic vision. Fifty-five percent of Strict Planners said they rely primarily on information about the product’s or service’s features when exploring a new purchase, so vendors should focus on supplying information that contains quantified results and rely heavily on expert interactions.
Catalysts accept the risk and costs of new technology and deploy as early as possible, but they want assurances and validation that technology will meet their needs. Catalysts look to understand a provider’s products and services for new technology primarily through search within a trusted independent site. When buying replacement technology, they are more likely than other enterprises to seek information through direct vendor interaction. Tech providers should share information on product capabilities and implementation details, provide free trials or proofs of concepts and interactive tools to support the Catalysts cluster’s buying process.
Business-Led buyers, representing 21% of those surveyed, involve the business throughout the entire buying process and seek to ensure that technology drives business value. Business-Leds seek specific product and service information in the form of customer references and proof points. In addition to product review sites, they are heavily reliant on direct engagement with vendors to learn more about products and services.
When buying new technology, 80% of Business-Led enterprises said they look to understand a provider’s products and services primarily by self-driven search rather than interactions. Yet, the opposite is true when buying replacement technology as only 43% look to self-driven search, relying on interactions instead.
“Strategies must be built that are relevant to buyers and will engage buying committees throughout their buying and owning journeys. To do so, tech marketers should determine which of the four tech buying organization clusters aligns to their ICP and apply these as a filter or segment strategy within account-based programs to identify accounts that fit into each buyer cluster,“ said Ferguson. “Using buying behavior analysis, technology teams should develop personalized engagement strategies (messaging, account-based marketing programs, content and channel mix strategies) that are relevant to each cluster and implement these into their GTM efforts.”
*The Gartner Technology End-User Buying Behavior Survey was conducted online from October through December 2020 among 1,500 managers or higher involved in technology evaluation and buying decisions. Those surveyed were from the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., Australia, India and Canada.
**Enterprise Technology Adoption Profiles (ETAs) are a proprietary model developed by Gartner that assesses the psychographics that drive how and when organizations make technology decisions. There are 7 ETAs. For marketers, Gartner combined pairs of the ETAs into 4 marketing clusters based on similar approaches to how they buy, making it less complex for marketers to deliver relevant, compelling marketing content in the engagement channels based on enterprise buying behavior.