The Evolving Buyer’s Journey and “Seller Burden” – Insights from CEB’s Sales and Marketing Summit

We’re now three weeks removed from CEB’s Sales and Marketing Summit, and I’ve had a chance to digest some of the information that was shared there. Two themes that resonated with me were the evolution of buyer’s journey and the mounting “seller burden.”

First, some data points from CEB’s recent research and analysis:

57

Data suggests that buyers are 57 percent of the way through the buyer’s journey when they have their first meaningful interaction with a seller.

6.8

Data shows that the average buying group has increased from 5.4 individuals to 6.8. Data also suggests that the larger the buying group, the less likely they will purchase. And when do they purchase, larger buyer groups “settle for lowest common denominator consensus” (yikes!).

39

Data suggests that 39 percent of buyers are “overwhelmed” by the buying process, which can lead to “purchase abandonment and regret.”

But wait, there’s more:

4.3

The number of internal colleagues involved in the an average deal.

16.4

The amount of time sales spends convincing internal colleagues of the merits of a deal.

8.5

The average number of tools and technologies sales is required to use in a deal.

226.1

The number of technology “touchpoints” the seller has in an average month.

I would summarize this data into two key points:

  1. The modern buyer continues to evolve to be more informed, more empowered and more complex; and
  2. The modern seller is overburdened with process, technology, internal selling and the aforementioned evolution of the modern buyer.

Add these two, and you have a cocktail with quite the hangover. So, what do we do about this? As I shared in my session at CEB (a great story about our client, Siemens, and their own efforts to address seller burden), it’s our roles as business leaders to address both of these challenges.

On the Buyer Side

We must do a better job of understanding the journey our buyers are on and how we can help them through the process. We need to have a deeper understanding of the challenges our customers face and the problems we’re trying to solve. We need to be in a position to help them reach a better understanding of their options to solve problem with and through our solution. We need to anticipate the challenges that come with the group buying process and, as and CEB says, “equip stakeholders to identify and overcome disconnects.”

On the Seller Side

We must do a better job of understanding the journey our buyers are on and how we can help them through the process. (Yes, that’s a repeat). Let me underscore this one: as sellers, we need to think more like buyers. We need to map the buyer’s journey to understand where we can improve our interactions at every step along the journey. Better understanding, better content, better interactions.

We also need to understand the processes and workflows we’re asking our seller’s to work on a daily basis. The data on seller burden presented by CEB should be eye-opening. In our talk, we polled the audience and found that these numbers (4.3, 16.4, 8.5 and 226.1 are actually LOW!). Much like the process of mapping the buyer’s journey to understand their experience, we need to map sellers’ workflows to understand the inefficiency in process and opportunities to simplify the seller experience. Our experience with organizations large and small shows time and time again that we have huge opportunities to streamline sales workflows – remove unnecessary steps, remove unnecessary interactions and provide a much improved workflow that gives time back to our sellers.

These are but a few, simple points to consider on your own journey to improve the buyer’s experience and simplify the seller experience. Let’s get moving.

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