One of the most common questions we receive as analysts is “Who are the decision makers for
Our latest research on procurement, which will be featured in the keynote and in many sessions at our virtual Technology Growth and Innovation conference in July, proves this quite clearly. We looked at the biggest technology purchase that respondents (manager or above in their organization) have been involved with in the past 24 months. And we decided to be very precise in the decision-making.
For several years, we have asked respondents to specify whether members of the purchasing team were actively involved (participating in the bulk of meetings and discussions) or occasionally (called in for their expertise or to make a decision). We’ve already talked about the casual makers challenge – but there’s more to the story that we’ll share in July. But we went beyond these two groups – we also asked respondents to tell us the specific role (for leadership positions) or functions that acted as active and occasional decision makers. Next, we asked which of the decision makers had the “last word”. The results illustrate the challenge facing tech marketing and sales teams today.
We will explore this by looking at 4 sets of decision makers. First, we’ll look at a set of purchases where cloud services were purchased alone or as part of a larger solution purchase. We’ll break this down according to the objective of the goal – to enable operational efficiency or (internal) productivity first, then for a more external, customer-facing objective. We will then do the same for business applications. For clients, we can discuss the combination of numerous markets and are in the process of generating research reports that dive into this and other elements for a wide variety of categories and buying purposes.
Let’s start with the internally focused cloud projects:
And now here’s the graph for Cloud for a more external orientation:
As the two graphs show, the diversity of decision-making is very high. For these major purchases, a senior executive (CEO, regional president, etc.) is the most likely participant and final decision-maker, but from there the variety is quite diverse. And that changes depending on the objective (one reason why we suggest the need to focus on value scenarios and not just technology categories. Here is a research note from my colleague, Derry Finkeldey on this (customers only). But even with this focus, there can be a bit of an inconsistency from company to company. The other interesting thing for me is that for cloud purchases focused on customer use cases, the roles of Chief Customer Officer, CMO, and Sales Reps didn’t make the decision for the team. Might be our sample, but it’s still interesting, especially when we continue to see challenges in generating new high-quality offers (more on that in a future article). I think buyers need help and guidance in building their decision-making teams.
Now let’s look at professional applications, first for inward facing lenses:
And then for more customer-facing use cases:
Here there is some consistency in the top 3 roles – it is senior managers or P&L centers who are the most common decision makers. We’re also seeing, for example, that sales are more involved in customer-facing use cases (unsurprisingly).
As these charts reflect, managing and targeting decision makers is a daunting task. They are diverse; they are distributed; and they appear inconsistently across companies.
Your best bet:
- Focus primarily on the most common decision makers.
- Spend more time clarifying critical value scenarios that will help you and the customer focus on a common goal. This will also guide suspected and recommended involvement.
- Find common ground around organizational goals rather than trying to appeal to each decision maker individually.
- Much of this is advice we’ve been giving for years. Now the data confirms how important it is to be efficient and stay sane.
This article was republished with permission from the Gartner Blog Network.