Is your business ready to navigate the new waters of today’s tech buying process?

September 29, 2015

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Last year, LinkedIn completed a research study examining the tech buying process in hopes to gain a better understanding of the IT purchasing committee and what’s important to them. The research found that there are more than 10 million LinkedIn members who fit the traditional IT buyer profile, and nine out of ten of the tech buyers on LinkedIn are in the market for an IT solution over the next 12 months. More importantly, the research found that tech buyers’ need for content was greater than ever. The majority of the IT committee is using social media for IT news and information, and they’re craving education throughout their technology purchase path. In fact, they require relevant, timely knowledge: 63% are more likely to consider an IT vendor who is educating them through engaging content.

This year, we took the research a step further by examining what challenges tech markers are regularly up against — diving deep into the tech buyer’s entire journey from purchase to renewal and probing the nitty, gritty details of content utility and buyer preference.

For answers, the study surveyed a variety of global tech buying sources — speaking with 3,800+ respondents from both inside and outside the IT department. All were employed at medium to large size companies and had purchased, implemented or managed business technology within the last three months. We then took things to the next level, mapping their uncharted needs against our findings on content consumption throughout today’s increasingly complex tech buying journey. And after honing in on these insights, we’re able to help demystify even the most complex technology sub-verticals.

Here are a selection of findings we uncovered:

  • The tech buying process is not for the faint of heart: It’s very long, quite intricate, and has completely changed in comparison to tech purchasing a few years ago.
  • If two is company and three’s a crowd, the tech buying committee must be a flash mob. The decision maker is no longer an individual or even a department, but a cross-functional committee comprised of a diverse mix of departments, backgrounds and interests.
  • Content at every stage = Contentment among tech buyers. Personalized, relevant content created for each member of the buying committee to consume at every stage of the tech buying process is critical to a vendor’s success.
  • Tech buying never sleeps, so neither should tech marketing. It is imperative to build an "always on" marketing strategy that is smarter, more effective and readily available to members of the tech buying committee anytime — and anyplace — they need it.
  • No beginning. No end. Embrace the infinite loop. The tech marketing process is cyclical, not linear. It runs beyond initial engagement, continues long after the sale, and repeats when it comes time for the customer to renew.

With data never before uncovered, our study delves beyond the technology business as a whole and into the unique features of the industry’s four key sectors: hardware for end users, software for end users, hardware for data centers and software for data centers. We’ve recapped the most poignant parts of the purchasing journey for each buying committee below.

For End-Use Hardware:

  • It’s a quick buying process. Hardware buying decisions happen fast, only allowing for about one to two months of vendor selection.
  • There is less consideration of new brands. Fewer than one in five hardware for end user buyers considers new brands.
  • There are three stages not to be ignored. Most tech committee members participate in the purchase decision during the Needs stage, but then buyers reach out for vendor support during the Vendor Choice and Management stages.
  • And remember, key features win market share. After pricing and product, reputation and user reviews have the most impact. Our buyer’s shortlist aligned most closely with brands that have strong technology user support.

For End-User Software:

  • There is large-scale buying input. Wider participation of software buying means that purchase decisions include half of the enterprise and involve “non-technical” roles such as marketing and sales.
  • Capitalize on your audience’s interest in new vendors. Software buyers are more open to new vendors than any other type of buyer.
  • Implementation matters. Typical implementations take almost a year with more than six in ten buyers involved.
  • Expectation to know their business. Providing proof-of-concept, easy buying processes, self-service information and usability win market share.

For Hardware for Data Centers:

  • You’re dealing with a narrow audience. Data center hardware buying involves a specialized subset of buyers.
  • There is a strong focus on pricing. Finance is among the most important functions in hardware buying and cost/price is a top consideration among those considering new vendors.
  • Deliver expertise. Buyers list knowledgeable sales professionals as a factor in winning their business, and likewise engage most with content in deep technical language.
  • Brand perception is king. Above all, technology users’ brand perceptions signal who wins the shortlist.

For Software for Data Centers:

  • They are a unique buying committee. It is a specialized subset of the enterprise, and includes external consultants, as well as both technical and business roles.
  • Content engagement is crucial. It lasts throughout the buying process, with buyers’ focus shifting from educational content early on to technical blogs deeper in the process.
  • Know your stuff. Above all other factors, subject matter expertise is named as a top consideration advancing vendors from consideration to shortlist.
  • Trust among peers a must. Peer brand perceptions align closely with brands newly shortlisted (over the last three months).

Tech marketing is more complicated than ever, and it’s time to embrace the challenge or fall behind. Dig into our detailed learnings and download Beneath the Surface: Taking a Deeper Look at Today’s Empowered Tech Buying Process

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