B2B buyers spend just 17 percent of their time meeting with potential suppliers, while 45 percent of their time is spent researching independently, according to a recent report from Gartner.
The remaining 38 percent is spent in meetings with other members of the buying group (22 percent) and on other activities that typically don’t involve sales reps.
The report points out that B2B buyers spend 27 percent of their time researching independently online and 18 percent of their time researching independently offline, making buyer enablement key to successful B2B sales. It defines buyer enablement as “the provision of information that supports the completion of critical buying jobs.”
Ironically, though, more often than not, problems originate not with the selling organizations but with the buying organization getting in its own way. In this environment, sellers can still win out by helping customers help themselves, enabling them to cut through the clutter of their own organizations, streamline their own decision-making processes, and buy more effectively.
The report identifies two components to buyer enablement: prescriptive advice and practical support. Prescriptive advice involves do-this or don’t-do-this recommendations designed to ease the customer journey; practical support provides the tools customers would use to follow through on the prescriptive advice.
With buyer enablement, sales reps should serve as “information connectors” or “curators or brokers of information rather than individual experts,” the report suggests. More specifically, it recommends that instead of relying on their own knowledge of the subject matter, reps should focus on finding the right tools and data and directing customers to those resources.
Adding to the complexity of the B2B buying process is the fact that when multiple suppliers are involved, the time that the buyer has available to spend with each seller is further split up. If sales reps are involved in just 17 percent of the entire buying experience, all the way from identifying a problem to exploring solutions to picking a supplier and ultimately making a decision, then if you’re one of three suppliers competing for a deal, you don’t get all 17 percent, you get maybe a third of it. The ability to influence is dwindled, hence the importance of streamlining seller practices to in turn better inform and enable the buyer.