Enlightened Technology Buying: How Marketers Can Drive Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal
March 14, 2019
In today’s dynamic world of work, technology continues to play a key role in shaping productive and successful business. However, the pathway toward purchasing a new technology solution continues to evolve within organizations, as departmental functions work collaboratively in pursuit of a shared goal — whether that be more efficient customer experiences, improved data management or boosted employee productivity. We see conversations that revolve around the professional usage and impact of technology every day at LinkedIn. In fact, engagement with technology-related shares and posts has grown 45% YoY on LinkedIn!
Because it is critical for marketers to understand the dynamics that shape their customers’ behavior, we surveyed 5,241 global technology decision-makers who bought, implemented, managed or renewed new business technology in the last three months across four key sub-categories:
- Hardware for End Users
- Software for End Users
- Hardware for Data Centers
- Software for Data Centers
Our report, The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal, delves into the data behind how today’s new business technology investments are made. In our fifth annual research study on this topic, we were excited to see a new vantage emerge from buyers who, overwhelmingly, showcase a desire to make modern, rational and well-informed decisions about technology usage. In sum, today’s technology buyers are enlightened. From how they seek information to how they evaluate vendors and ultimately make purchasing decisions, today’s enlightened tech buyers are defined by a drive to make the best possible decisions for their business.
Here’s why. (If you are a marketer of technology products or services, take note.)
The Age of Enlightenment
First, the technology buying process is community influenced, yet committee driven. Today an overwhelming majority of employees (86%) contribute to new business technology investment decisions within their organizations — reiterating the importance of finding the right technology that drives today’s performance and tomorrow’s growth.
When it comes to making a decision, a cross-functional, stakeholder committee is still involved. However, before needs are typically scoped or identified, 9 in 10 buyers have already turned outside of their decision-making committee to collect feedback or vet initial vendors. This means that influencers, implementers and end-users have greater ability to wield influence and authority than in years past. Key stakeholders are also seeking advice and expertise from a more expansive web of individuals and resources in the broader technology community.
Although outside resources are being consulted about technology buying decisions, it’s the IT and Engineering functions within organizations that are king — in over 55% of technology buying cycles, IT and engineering positions have the most influence over final decision-making. And while a wide range of departmental stakeholders may weigh in on purchase decisions, IT and Engineering also lead the process from start to finish. Overall, more than 85% of corporate technology purchase decision makers are from tech-focused roles, including IT, Operations, Engineering, QA and Research.
Second, today’s technology buyers are digitally enabled and quality obsessed. Enlightened tech buyers are tapping into a rich pool of resources at their disposal for education, research and input. Things like online reviews, surveys and usage stats from fellow technology users make up 51% of the trusted educational sources consulted throughout the buying cycle. Today’s tech buyers want — and need — to know that a product’s quality is credible before purchasing. In fact, 91% of buyers say a product or service’s quality was the most important factor when selecting a vendor. In order to even make a buyer’s shortlist, vendors must be able to consistently meet customer needs, accurately prepare for and answer buyer questions and be priced competitively in the marketplace.
Last, buying decisions are focused on outcomes, service and support. Today’s vendor shortlist is highly competitive and Enlightened Buyers have the option and ability to quickly change their mind. This is why so many buyers demand this same agility and clear value from vendors — outcomes are key. Ultimately they are looking for investments that actively advance business initiatives and lay the foundation for future innovation. A quick turnaround and trimmed-down sales process, from research to purchase to implementation, is necessary. Wasting time on sales-heavy presentations and jargon is not.
A Checklist for Marketers
With global investments in new business technology expected to increase upwards of 9% in 2019, according to Forrester’s Global Technology Trends 2019 Outlook Report, today’s technology marketers should be ready for a challenge. In order to truly be successful, marketers must be able to fully connect with potential (and existing) customers and deliver the solutions, support, experience and messages they are looking for. Here is a quick checklist to help you get started:
- Know your buying audience, aka the key stakeholders who contribute to and shape technology investment decisions.
- Understand that the Enlightened Buyer requires intelligent messaging, brand campaigns and thought leadership.
- Go outside your core buying audience to educate and influence others who may influence buyer decisions.
- Engage and communicate in Enlightened Buyer communities, such as online forums and social groups.
The research insights point to a clear strategy for rising above the competition: simplify. That means ditching buzzwords and flashy graphics and refocusing on personal connections, real-world value and brand expertise.
To learn more about how today’s enlightened tech buyers are making buying decisions and how marketers can win over the hearts and minds of these savvy consumers, view our report, The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal.