Chapter 1

The State of buyer enablement

If sales enablement, as described on the previous page, focuses on helping sales teams support buyers, buyer enablement represents a subtle shift that aims to fully empower buyers by building a strategic arsenal of assets for them to access at their convenience.

For sales teams struggling to close deals and marketers frustrated by a non-linear process, it’s important to keep this in mind: buyers are overwhelmed too! It’s not like being a buyer was ever stress-free or easy, but several factors have made their experience considerably more difficult.

Sales is hard. Buying is harder.

The equation is simple: more voices + more information + a prolonged purchasing process = a more stressful buying experience. Anyone who has done online research before a purchase for anything from a laptop to a vacuum cleaner to a set of kitchen utensils knows the quest for info can become a dizzying descent into data overload.

The struggle of buying has pushed a sales response that prioritizes more information, more flexibility, and peak responsiveness, even in the face of data that shows those don’t help close deals. In fact according to research done by the Harvard Business Review, a “responsive” sales approach that strives to satisfy all customer requests for information and support has a negative impact on purchase ease, and increases the likelihood of purchase regret by 50%.

Clearly bending over backwards to be on call with every data point won’t make buying easier, nor will it help buyers wade through an ever-growing array of buying options.

Buying units are growing

But it’s not just a problem of more options. It’s that there’s way more people chiming in than ever before. The average buying unit now consists of anywhere from 6-11 people, which based on recent research will continue to trend upward.

And each additional voice is coming with their own opinions, armed with their

own research, and advocating for their own respective place in the organization.

Buying units may now include folks from finance, legal, compliance, procurement, data protection, IT management, and accounting, an obviously broad spectrum of buying perspectives that can have conflicting interests.

Timelines are inconsistent

and buying journeys non-linear

Mounting evidence suggests the fundamental process of a purchase has splintered into a fragmented series of steps with no consistent order of operation. In essence what that means is that the more predictable, step-by-step order which many buyers followed in the past has morphed.

Contacting a sales person for a demo, which may have been the initial step for a buying team 15 years ago, is now done towards the back end of the process, if at all. This is a repercussion of 70% of the buying process occurring online, and can leave marketers in the dark as to what specific piece of content or insight made a true difference in the customer’s decision.

So yes, forging consensus creation amongst such a diverse buying collective is an exceptionally slippery slope, and requires a thoughtful balance of providing buyers prescriptive advice and tactical support.

Achieving that balance can only be done with a clear grasp on who the buyer is, and what motivates them to make purchasing decisions in 2021.

Understanding the new breed of B2B buyer