Cracking the Code

November 22, 2016

Adapting Your B2B Marketing Strategy for the Complex Prospect Journey

Executive Summary

Catalyst wanted to better understand the pre-sales engagement process: How research originates, who conducts it and which touch points make the most difference. We also wanted to identify the pain points that prospects encounter during this process to better understand the buyer’s journey, find out whether there was too much emphasis on reaching C-level decision makers too early in the process, as well as identify other decision makers who might be involved. For this research, we focused on prospects who purchased capital equipment, enterprise software and business services, markets in which Catalyst had significant expertise. Our findings validated that prospects’ journeys were very complex, involved many parties, were often exhaustively time-consuming, and were rarely linear. More significant, prospects’ journeys were not fully understood by both the sales and marketing teams at sellers’ organizations.

Key Findings

  1. It was critical to understand prospects’ sense of urgency in order to evaluate the amount of time vendors should spend on the prospect.
  2. The pre-engagement research process was arduous, often taking weeks, months or even years. It could include a few people or a few dozen.
  3. For the research process, key decision makers were not the C-suite. In most cases, it was a subject matter expert. Larger-scale purchases in particular were designated to research teams.
  4. Prospects turned to vendor websites first, underscoring the importance of an easy-to-use website with the type of content they were looking for. Depending on where they were in the research process, prospects looked for different kinds of content and wanted different questions answered.
  5. Prospects nearly always looked for third-party validation to confirm their opinions.
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