We asked 20 marketing and sales leaders at large technology companies a simple question: How do you buy?

In this book you’ll learn how CMOs and sales leaders buy at every stage of the journey — what turns them on, what turns them off, and what you can do to offer a better B2B buying experience.

B2B buying journey_introduction

Psychology, as we know, is a huge part of marketing and sales. Since the dawn of advertising, marketers and salespeople have been obsessed with buyer behavior — for good reason. Understanding your customers and effectively mapping their buying journey can help you make smarter decisions, create better campaigns, and, ultimately, boost sales.

Much has been written about buyer psychology when it comes to consumer goods. But what about the B2B world, where buyers are other CMOs and sales leaders? Where buying decisions are infinitely more complex, with more internal and external stakeholders, higher price points, and a highly demanding sales and implementation process?

Yes, B2B marketers and sales leaders have their work cut out for them — but so do buyers. If you’re a CMO, think about how much goes into buying a new tool for your MarTech stack. Much research is required to make sure each individual solution fits your company’s unique needs. You need to ensure that every solution you buy will work for all of the stakeholders across your organization who might come into contact with it. In larger companies, and at higher price points, you have to make an airtight business case to get budget approval and make sure it’s a good investment.

“It’s one thing to buy a solution, it’s another thing to use it and get value from it,” says James Thomas, CMO of the wealth-management software platform Shareworks. “You’re not the only person who’s going to be using it, so it makes sense to get as much input as you can, to get your team and other stakeholders involved in the process. You’re trying to understand a business pain that affects a number of people. So with research and pricing and security considerations, that touches a lot of people. Making the purchase shouldn’t come down to just one person.”

Our interview series unearthed a range of insights about what goes into making major B2B purchases — including how buying authorities discover new solutions, how they evaluate them, who’s involved in the evaluation and decision-making process, and what that decision ultimately looks like.

We also got a glimpse into what these buyers look for from salespeople. Some placed a premium on building trust early on. Others expressed strong preferences around response time, pricing conversations and length of sales cycle — but almost all agreed that the relationship shouldn’t end at purchase.

We learned that some buyers are more comfortable doing the bulk of the shopping themselves. Others prefer delegating or involving others. Some start with a need. Others are more opportunistic, always looking for new solutions. Some want to have the pricing conversation as quickly as possible. Others are fine waiting — as long as they know there’s value.

What came up in every conversation is the high-stakes nature of B2B purchases. Even a good purchase can be disruptive — so just imagine what a bad one can do. At the end of the day, these executives need to know a product is going to make their life better, not worse. Most buyers, it turns out, have their own process to get there — there’s a reason it’s called the buyer’s journey, after all. This book is all about pulling back the curtain on those processes, and the psychology around those processes, to better understand the mind of the buyer.

In This Book:

Chapter 1: Going Shopping

B2B Buying Journey_Chapter 1

When does the buying experience start for B2B buyers?

Long before the decision to buy comes the decision to start looking — and that can come from many places. Often it starts with a problem or need. A CMO might be struggling with a lack of data or wasting time with a manual process. It may occur to a VP of Sales that the only way to solve a particular problem is with a technical solution.

Other buyers are more opportunistic. One CMO might hear from a friend about an automation tool that’s revolutionized their MarTech stack. A VP of Sales might read a magazine article about a new solution that’s changed the way their sales reps interact with leads.

Every buyer has a different appetite for change. Some are more conservative, and some are more adventurous. What they all have in common is that the search starts somewhere.

“You never want to be in a situation where you have a solution looking for a problem,” says Alex Rosemblat, VP of Marketing for cloud monitoring service Datadog.

“Somebody playing with a shiny new tool for a process or workflow that we don’t really need is never a priority. You see that a lot, and all it does is distract people from the stuff they really should be focusing on.”

Alex Rosemblat

Rosemblat is not a big shopper. He admits that his team would generously describe him as “resistant” to bringing in new software solutions. Not because he’s skeptical of new technology, but because he’s usually worried about the cost — financial or otherwise — around onboarding and implementation.

“I really focus on what are the problems that we have, and I find that so many things are just so easily taken care of with the tools we already have,” he says. “Having to get a new tool is a really big investment. And not just the money, but the people and the time. You think of all the areas it touches — talking to vendors, finance, security — you only want to use those bullets when it really matters. I don’t want to go down that path unless it’s something we really need.”

For Rosemblat, shopping for a new solution is all about solving a pain point. And starting from a need always makes the process easier when it comes to making the business case for a major purchase. The back-and-forth and negotiating and “can-we-or-can’t-we” conversations with finance tend to go a lot smoother when he can simply make a case for better efficiency.

“When you know that you absolutely have to have something, you don’t have to do some crazy ROI model,” he says. “And if we did, our finance team would still probably poke a million holes in it. But if you can just say, ‘Look, I have a hire that’s supposed to be doing 10 different things, but they’re spending more than half of their time on this one thing and the other half on the nine things.’ That’s a much easier conversation.”

Rosemblat estimates that he makes only two or three buys a year — so when he does, he’s fairly hands-on throughout the process. The pain point will reach his desk via members of his team, who will explain their problem. He says he’ll look at their complaints “with a very critical eye.” Once he determines that the best plan of attack is to bring in a new solution, he usually delegates the shopping to his team. They’ll bring him their finalists and, by this time, have usually set up a demo.

“I’m really most involved at the beginning,” he says. “I want to help determine what the criteria is going to be once they start looking — and at the end, once we’re looking at demos and asking real questions of the vendors. My team are the people who are the most motivated to find the solution, so I really trust them to do their homework and bring me the best options to choose from.”

“You have to have a clear vision of the experience you’re trying to architect,” says Jaime Punishill, CMO of translation and localization software company Lionbridge. “If you have a clear view of that, then you can say, ‘What is everything I could do? Can I do that with video? Can I do that with chat? Can I do that with conversational interfaces? Can I optimize for web? Is there a new way I should be thinking about SEO?”

Jaime Punishill

Punishill is always looking for an edge. Still a relatively new face at Lionbridge, having joined less than two years ago, he and his team have spent much of that time dismantling the company’s tech stack, evaluating what is and isn’t working.

“We came in and looked at what we had,” he says. “We shut a lot of stuff down and then said, ‘Okay, what’s our brand strategy, our business strategy, our marketing strategy? Now what do we need to add back in? Was it the same vendors or was it different vendors?’”

Beyond solving for clear and obvious needs, Punishill is an opportunistic buyer. He spends “a disproportionate amount of time” listening to webinars, reading newsletters, and tracking new developments in marketing technology. With the landscape rapidly changing and disruptive solutions emerging every day, he says it’s “incumbent upon marketers” to try to keep up.

He cites Scott Brinker’s Marketing Landscape Technology Supergraphic as proof of the explosive growth of technology — and the difficulty of keeping up. When the chart was created in 2011, it showed approximately 1,000 companies. Now, more than 7,000 brands appear under categories like advertising, content, social, data, and more.

“It’s maddening to be a CMO and look at that chart,” he says. “It’s the ultimate Adam Smithian view of the universe. Everybody solves one little tiny piece of the factory.”

While Punishill is waiting for the ultimate end-to-end solution, he has a good instinct for when a particular tool can help. While building off a company rebrand to create an all-new digital experience, it became apparent that the world is pivoting to a conversational interface. He uses the example of more than 50% of the U.S. workforce being under the age of 40 and not knowing an adult life without Google as the dominant way of accessing information.

“That is all a push to a conversational modality,” he says. “So we said, ‘Wow, we’ve got to build our whole digital experience predicated on this idea of ask-response, ask-response, anticipate, offer-extra-information, etc.’ Then when something like Drift floats across my radar screen, I see it, I grab it, we put it in place, and off we go.”

That’s just one example of Punishill taking a chance on a new piece of technology. He’s not averse to taking risks, and he asks his team to trust him. If it doesn’t work out, it’s usually nothing he can’t undo. He trusts his gut and his 25 years of experience in the industry.

“I think it’s just either the fate or the opportunity depending on how you choose to view it, as a modern marketer,” he says. “The whole experiential model is being completely upended. In that world, I don’t look for certainty, I look for fit. And then I test and learn.”

“Buying is all about ROI,” says Lynne Capozzi, CMO of Drupal cloud platform Acquia. “You can’t go to your CFO and say ‘Just trust me,’ anymore. Trust conversations are over.”

Lynne Capozzi

Capozzi says the focus on ROI is a somewhat recent development thanks to the emergence of new technology. Gone are the days when marketers could subsist on gut feelings and anecdotal evidence. The availability of data and analytics mean it’s much easier to measure performance — which in turn means the B2B buying journey must be approached with results in mind.

“You have to put together an ROI case,” she says. “We’re so metrics-driven. It’s all about the data. It’s all about analysis. Things used to be more touchy-feely. You’d say, ‘We need this,’ and finance would believe you. Now you have to be able to measure it, you have to be able to justify it. The good news is, all of this technology out there, it’s so much easier to show ROI.”

When it comes to going shopping for a solution, Capozzi says she’s mostly motivated by need — but she acknowledges the importance of staying up to date on the latest solutions. She estimates that about 80% of her purchases address a specific problem within her department. The other 20% come from keeping her eyes and ears open.

“Going off in search of a new product usually starts with the need to solve a pain point,” she says. “But I also try to be opportunistic. I’m always looking around, always listening, always reading. My team is always coming to me with ideas, and we’re looking at what else we could be doing that might help us or get us above the line.”

Like most departmental buying authorities, Capozzi pays close attention to her budget. If the need for a software solution arises, she usually has the funds already allocated to her department and can make the purchase on her own.

But what about when a particular solution exceeds her annual budget? In that case, Capozzi says she has two choices: find out where she can cut, or make a business case for the solution to her CFO.

“I would much rather take something off my stack and save on cost that way, then use that savings to buy something new,” she says. “That’s always what I try to do first.”

If she can’t make the numbers work, or if there’s nothing she feels she can afford to lose, Capozzi will turn to her CFO.

“You never want to have to go to finance,” she says. “No one wants to go over and above their budget. But when you do, you have to be prepared to make the business case for making a major purchase, and it’s always going to come back to ROI.”

“One of the awesome things about marketing is that you are always, always improving your performance,” says Gordon Burnes, CMO of staffing software company Bullhorn. “Performance improvement can come through better processes, sharper people, or more efficient use of technology. We’re constantly trying to optimize across all three of those dimensions.”

Gordon Burnes

When it comes to improving technology, Burnes’ buying journey typically takes two paths. On one side, he’s regularly and systematically looking for ways to improve business performance. His team reviews weekly and monthly metrics to see where there might be an opportunity, and if they think there’s room for improvement, then they’ll start to dig in.

“For instance,” he says, “if we see, MQL to SQL conversion rates aren’t as high as we’d like, we say, ‘Hey, how do we improve those? What are the systems, people, and processes that we need to put in place to improve those?’” he says. “And what I typically do is talk to other CMOs, figure out how they’re solving the problem — what technology they’re using to solve the problem.”

On the other side is a more opportunistic approach. As a leader, Burnes’ buying journey doesn’t always start with a clear need. He sees and hears about a lot of new tools and software, and he’s willing to take a chance on a new solution if he thinks it can give the company an advantage. They key is making sure it aligns with a business objective.

“If we see a disruptive technology that we really think can impact the business, then we’ll try it even though it might be new and there isn’t a huge track record,” he says. “But there has to be a path. We have to have a hypothesis that it can help improve our business performance. If there’s no hypothesis, if it’s just a bright shiny object — and we see a ton of those — we don’t pursue them.”

Like many CMOs, he relies heavily on his network — not just to help him understand and solve the problems he’s having, but to discover new processes and new technology solutions.

“Everybody’s always experimenting,” he says. “All CMOs are always experimenting and there’s a high likelihood that there’s a CMO that’s experimenting in a dimension that you haven’t started to experiment yet. So if you can leverage their knowledge, that’s very, very helpful.”

For Burnes, the crucial thing is to always be optimizing. He goes back to the idea of constantly improving in the three key areas of process, people, and technology. Right now his team is focused on trying to drive up the average sales price. It’s a targeting problem, he says, one that can be looked at from a number of directions.

“That’s what makes marketing so fun,” he says. “You’re always testing, and learning, and improving your performance. It depends on what you’re looking at, but there are so many different ways in which you can drive increased performance that if you just sort of keep chipping away all the time, you’ll get better.”

Chapter 2 – Word Travels Fast

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Who do B2B buyers turn to for buying advice?

We know storytelling can be incredibly powerful in marketing and sales. Online reviews and blog articles can both be great tools, but there’s no substitute for someone you know and trust giving you their personal feelings about a product or solution.

A number of the buying authorities we interviewed spoke about the power of stories and word of mouth. They want to know how others in their network have experienced a particular problem, and what they may have gained (or lost) by trying a new tool. Stories can also come from salespeople talking about others who have experienced success.

Stories are what stick in customers’ minds when they make buying decisions, and when they use your product and tell their friends. These marketing and sales leaders talked about the importance of storytelling and conversations in their own B2B buying process.

“We live in a peer-bound world,” says Chandar Pattabhiram, CMO of business spend management platform Coupa. “Whether you’re buying cars, software, or any other category, buyers are influenced more by their peers than by the vendor themselves. The same thing applies to CMOs.”

Chandar Pattabhiram

Pattabhiram describes his buying style as a mix of “opportunistic” and “programmatic,” with the former being heavily influenced by his peers. He’s constantly talking to other CMOs about the technologies they’re using to boost revenue, advocacy, and other metrics. New solutions are a topic of discussion at the CMO council and CMO clubs he’s part of, and a focus whenever he connects one-on-one with fellow executives in his network.

“One of the questions I always ask is, ‘So what’s new and interesting? What are you looking at that’s helping you?’” he says. “I have an obligation to ask that question because that’s what’s going to give me the ideas I might not be thinking about today.”

While his opportunism is what drives him to always be on the lookout, his programmatic side helps him find validation for what he discovers. In other words, he doesn’t just ask his peers what they’re using — he also asks how it’s worked for them, what’s good and bad about a product, and what they’ve learned. The more information he can gather from personal stories and testimonials from other CMOs, the better he’ll feel about purchasing.

Pattabhiram doesn’t stop at probing his own network for new technology solutions. He also reads a lot, including publications like Forbes, CMO.com, Harvard Business Review, and technology-centric blogs like ChiefMartec. He says it’s all part of “figuring out what’s state of the art and staying on the leading edge.”

Once he’s made the decision to pursue a new solution, he usually delegates that process to the function head or whoever will be using the tool. It’s a collaborative process where he remains the “chief decision-maker.” If the ROI is tangible, it’s generally easier to put together a business case to buy. If not, they may need to approach it as an experiment.

Ultimately, for Pattabhiram, it all comes down to keeping a balanced mindset. As a CMO, he’s always looking for ways to drive acquisition, expansion, and advocacy. As a buyer, he knows that the best technology solutions can help him scale and achieve his desired results, but that he needs to be programmatic about evaluating his needs. This is why he’s always talking to other CMOs, reading about new solutions, and taking suggestions from his team.

“You can’t be the sole center of all these decisions,” he says. “For me it’s a combination of talking to my fellow CMOs and my team about what I’m hearing. And in conjunction with that, listening to what my team brings to me and having them be federated in this process.”

“I think too many people struggle with how to resolve their pain points because they assume there isn’t a solution to their problem,” says James Thomas, CMO of wealth management software platform Shareworks. “I assume there is one. That’s an advantage right off the bat.”

James Thomas

Thomas has run Shareworks’ marketing department for 18 months and has been aggressive in his approach to modernizing the company’s MarTech stack. For him, that means countless conversations with fellow marketing leaders in his network in search of the best possible solutions. Personal stories, he says, are the most reliable way to determine whether or not a product is right for his company.

“You can do a Google search, you can go to the customer review sites, you can check in with the analysts at Gartner or ITC, but that’s only going to get you halfway there,” he says. “Those can all be useful, but nothing is going to beat those word-of-mouth stories you get from the people around you. What have they used before? What do they recommend?”

Since he rarely goes off in search of a solution until he or someone on his team has identified a problem — “I’m not one of those people who is excited about always finding the hot new tool,” he says — Thomas rarely interacts with vendors before he’s ready to buy. But that can also be a function of his aversion to what he calls “being sold.” What he wants, he says, is for someone to help him buy.

“We deploy more of a challenger sales model,” he says. “You tell me what I need. Too often you hear a sales rep say, ‘You’re the expert” when they’re trying to sell you something. I want them to be the expert. I need to hear them say, ‘I see you’re a $100 million company, you’ve got about 10 people in your marketing department and I looked at your website and here’s your biggest challenge and here’s how three companies just like yours have solved it.’ That’s how you’re going to get me to buy from you.”

And when it comes to price, Thomas says it’s less important when a rep brings up money. He’s more interested in the how. By the time money comes up, he’s usually already done his research and has an idea how much a solution is going to cost. But he’d rather have a sales rep tell him the price in the context of how the product will benefit his company.

“If someone puts the price in with the concept of value, then I pay attention,” he says. “I like hearing, ‘What if I could solve that pain point for you for $50,000, which is going to be a third of the price of hiring additional staff to do it?’ The best reps, the best vendors, they’re the ones who have the confidence to guide you, not the other way around.”

“My own network is the most valuable resource I have,” says Max Altschuler, VP of Marketing at sales engagement platform Outreach. “There’s no bit of research you can do on a solution that’s more effective than finding out it worked for 10 other SaaS companies that recently IPO’d. If it worked for them, it’s probably going to work for us.”

Max Altschuler

And while Altschuler could probably find some of that same information by looking at customer review sites, nothing beats having a personal conversation with someone he knows.

“I’m lucky enough to be pretty well networked,” he says. “And when I’m shopping for a solution, I want to know exactly who I’m asking because I need to know that I trust them. That’s way more valuable than anything I’m going to find on the internet.”

Altschuler says his B2B buying journey typically begins with a pain point. He’s rarely inspired to buy from a sales pitch or a trade-show demonstration. Instead, he and his team will recognize an area where they need to improve and start figuring out the best way to approach it.

It might not be clear early on if the pain point requires a purchase. The first question worth asking, he says, is whether there is a free or cheaper solution that makes sense. But as his own company grows — Outreach has gone through five rounds of funding and has more than 3,500 customers — free solutions rarely make the cut anymore.

“Once we know that we have to go out and find an enterprise-grade piece of software,” he says, “we’ll look at the problem and ask ourselves, ‘What will success look like? What is the outcome of whatever we’re trying to solve for?’ Then we’ll build a work-back plan from there.”

The plan usually involves Altschuler bringing in the manager of whatever marketing discipline will own the solution and having that person bring him a narrowed-down list of potential winners. From that list, Altschuler will consult with the people in his network and his team will reach out to sales reps to begin the evaluation process.

“The second-best thing you can do, besides consult your network, is to hire really smart, competent people that you trust to run a good evaluation,” he says. “I lean on my team to build the framework or checklist to determine what we’re looking for once we start looking at demos and talking to sales.”

And once Altschuler or a member of his team — usually the latter — is in contact with a provider, he expects to have their sales rep’s undivided attention.

“You want to know the number one thing that can derail an evaluation?” he asks. “Shitty sales reps. We had one recently where we had 15 emails back and forth just trying to get a password to get into the application for our trial. Then he wouldn’t pick up the phone. After that, it was basically, ‘OK, nevermind, then.’ It’s really on them. And this was their loss — we had been leaning toward going with that company too.”

“Buyers love hearing the campfire stories,” says Ryan Bott, Senior VP of Sales for global food services and facilities management company Sodexo. “As salespeople, we tell stories to validate and build trust. If someone can show me at another company why they bought this same solution, that’s a good story. That’s real-life ROI.”

Ryan Bott

In more than 10 years as a sales executive, Bott says he has figured out that the business case for any major purchase is rarely about measurable ROI. It’s about trust. Sales reps tend to lean too hard on ROI calculations that, while helpful, often provide little in the way of concrete evidence of a solution’s value. As a sales leader himself, he teaches his own reps to focus on telling stories of other customers’ success.

He remembers buying a big-ticket solution from Salesforce a few years ago. He made the case to his CFO and got the go-ahead to shop around. He got quotes from Salesforce, Microsoft, and a few other leading providers. He negotiated with all of them and was able to work the price down, but Salesforce — his preferred solution — was still the highest. He went back to the companies, asked a few more questions, negotiated even more on cost, and Salesforce was still the most expensive. So which one did he go with?

Salesforce. Why? They told the best success stories.

“We all believed because they showed us something like 10 examples of what this could do for us, what our organization could look like in four years,” he says. “Is there a true ROI around that? No. But at the end of the day, we all buy with the hope. We buy with the vision.”

Bott says buying at Sodexo is a collaborative process that usually starts in a meeting. He’ll hear from a member of his team that there’s a need, which puts the idea on his radar. He’ll kick the tires on a couple of products — often based on informal fact-finding queries to people in his own network — and then, during an executive team meeting, the conversation might turn to something where the solution he’s been looking at could apply.

B2B Buying Secrets

“Say we’re talking about client retention,” he says. “And we’re trying to figure out how we can get that number where we want it. Someone will say, ‘Well, Kathy’s team is doing this, Jason’s team is working on that, but we’re waiting on the results.’ At that point I can say I’ve already been looking at a couple of vendors for an automation solution around this very thing. I think we could save a lot of money.”

By the end of the meeting, Bott has the go-ahead to start shopping.

“Buyers are trained to be collaborative,” he says. “I’m rarely in a position where I’m just making the final decision on my own. And I don’t want to be. I’d rather get buy-in from my executive team. It’s not this authoritarian, ‘Let me tell you what I’m going to buy’ kind of scenario. The best decisions are going to come from collaboration.”

Chapter 3 – Close to the Action

B2B Buying Journey_Chapter 3

How involved are executives in the B2B buying process?

Buying in a B2B setting is different from buying most consumer goods. For one thing, the price point is usually much higher, and pricing structures are more complex. And, especially at larger companies, there are also many more stakeholders than your average consumer needs to consider — people who will use the tool, people who will implement it, and people whose daily lives will be affected (hopefully in a positive way).

The responsibility is always on the executive to make sure the right tools are purchased, but that doesn’t mean they’re always closely involved in every step. That can depend on a variety of factors, including what kind of tool it is, how disruptive it is to the organization (technically and financially), as well as the personal preferences of the executives themselves.

These marketing and sales leaders shared their thoughts on how they prefer to be involved in the discovery and decision-making process, when they want to get close to the action, and when they prefer to stay away.

“I’m an ex-Gartner analyst, so I’m a geek to some extent,” says Jake Sorofman, CMO at product cloud company Pendo. “Even though I might very often delegate much of the shopping and buying process, I like doing some of the evaluation myself.”

Jake Sorofman

Sorofman says he looks at buying in two ways in order to determine who should take the lead: If there’s a pressing need, a pain point that his team is feeling directly, he asks the relevant department head to run the search process. But when he sees something that looks like it might be useful down the road — and as a former analyst, his eyes are always open — he starts doing due diligence on his own.

“A lot of times I’ll see something that’s sort of ahead of the headlights and I don’t want to distract the team because it isn’t in line with a current need,” he says. “But because it’s something I want to have on our radar for future consideration, I’ll make it a priority to look into it myself.”

Doing so is usually a long process that he’s happy to spread out over time. He spends a fair amount of time scanning Google results as a way of comparing the one or two solutions in a specific space that he knows by name with some of the competitors he might not be familiar with. Then he moves on to user reviews. He’ll get a sense of what people are saying on sites like G2 or TrustRadius before reaching out to his own network, looking for people who have experience with a particular tool.

Once he narrows his preference down to just a few options, he’s ready to reach out to vendors. He goes into this process armed with a solid knowledge of their product having spent plenty of time consuming their content, watching videos, and poring over reviews.

“I like to defer the beginning of the conversation with vendors as long as humanly possible,” he says. “I want to know everything I can before that part starts. I’m shopping before they know I’m shopping.”

Sorofman says when he reaches out to a vendor, he’s not looking for an immediate turnaround. In fact, he would prefer the vendor take time to evaluate his query, research how their solution could impact his company, and come back armed with the kind of due diligence that can spark a meaningful conversation. In other words, he’s turned off by any response that amounts to little more than a cold pitch.

“The conversations that do go well, at least the initial ones, are the conversations where the vendor has truly studied who we are and asks smart questions to really understand our needs,” he says. “Then they can tailor their pitch that way. That reveals a degree of understanding and sophistication around who we are as a company and the problems we’re looking to solve.

“You come at me that way and that can be super powerful — and it can ultimately be the key to differentiation.”

“When the pain point makes me feel pain directly, I’m going to be knee-deep in this stuff,” says Kyle Flaherty, Chief Marketing Officer at B2C CRM platform Zaius. “You’d better believe it — I’m looking at reviews, I’m doing demos —  I’m going to be involved in the entire process.”

Kyle Flaherty

Flaherty, who runs a nine-person marketing shop at Zaius, isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and be a hands-on buyer, but only when it makes sense. He says the key to effectively managing a team in any discipline is knowing when to delegate and when to be more involved. That extends to shopping for software solutions.

“Say we’re looking at a new lead-scoring methodology,” he says. “I have a person who handles that on the demand-gen team. I don’t have to worry about that. I’m confident that person will know what we’re looking for. You need a new widget in Salesforce or Pardot? Come to me, let’s talk about it, and you go find some options. I’m going to trust you.”

That trust goes a long way when it comes to cost. The open-office plan at Zaius has Flaherty sitting next to the company’s CFO, something he describes as both a blessing and a curse.

“I always make sure I have a good relationship with the CFO or VP of Finance,” he says. “I know I’m going to have to put together a business case for any major tool I want to bring in, anything that’s going to be a fairly large line item in my budget. They want to know not just why we’re doing it, but what it’s going to do for us. If you trust each other, it makes the process much easier.”

To make the business case, Flaherty and his team put together a one-pager that gives reasonable expectations for how the solution will impact the department over time. This usually takes the form of a crawl-walk-run projection.

“We want to explain how we’re going to implement this solution, and how we’re going to measure the impact,” he says. “And we also ask another important question — if it doesn’t work, what might we do? What’s our way around if it doesn’t do what we think it’s going to do? How can we adjust? When you’re looking to implement a new tool, you only know what you know at the time. I don’t have a Ouija board, you can’t predict the future. But you have to be able to move and adapt with these things once you have them and they don’t work.”

“I always come back to ‘Show me, don’t tell me’,” says Kevin Marasco, CMO at HR software provider Zenefits. “I’m probably more experiential and hands-on than other CMOs. I enjoy touching it, seeing it, and envisioning how we could use or apply it in our world.

Kevin Marasco

Marasco has worked in marketing for more than two decades. So when he’s looking for a new software solution, the last thing he wants to see is more marketing collateral. He wants to cut through the glossy case studies and word-perfect testimonials and experience the actual product underneath. And he says it’s important for sales reps to get there quickly.

“Early in the process, I’m just trying to learn,” he says. “I just want to see it. I don’t want to talk about it to someone, and if I do it’s a quick hit over chat.”

Marasco admits that he’s not totally averse to long, in-the-weeds conversations on use-cases, objection handling, contract negotiations, and pricing — but he refuses to invest that time before he sees the product in action.

Once he’s gotten hands-on with a product and it passes an initial gut check, Marasco runs a loose evaluation process tailored to the specifics of the products he’s considering and where in the business they would sit. 

“I call it an agile process,” he says. “How are we going to fund this? Where does the technology sit in our stack? What are the technical requirements? How does this integrate with our marketing automation platform and CRM? And how does it sit into the stack with all the other hundreds of tools we’re using?”

But this is getting tougher. Marasco says providers are improving their products exceptionally quickly, adding on new functionality and spreading into new use cases. And that means Marasco’s evaluation process has to grow too.

“All the lines are blurring,” he says. “So we have to look at what other technology we have that does that? Is it as good?” 

Each new software purchase doesn’t just require an evaluation of that particular product, it now requires an evaluation of Zenefits’ entire MarTech stack. And while that’s demanding, Marasco insists it helps him get the most out of technology.

Eventually, Marasco’s buying journey ends the same way it starts: with hands-on testing. When he has whittled his options down to a shortlist, Marasco will ask his team to run two or three competing products simultaneously to see which performs best.

“We’ll run two experiments side by side and see who gets the better results for our market, our situation, and so on,” he says. “We’re backing everything with data so we can see who has the better work product, higher conversion rates, higher match rates, and things like that.”

“We have about 60 people that make up our marketing organization, and about 40 of them I would say are potential buyers,” says Ran Avrahamy, VP of Global Marketing for measurement solutions provider AppsFlyer. “Think about that for a minute. That’s insane. Five, 10 years ago, a company would have one, maybe two people with the authority to buy.”

Ran Avrahamy

When it comes to buying most software solutions, Avrahamy is remarkably hands-off. His already massive marketing organization is scattered around the globe and split into two units — visual and global marketing. He oversees marketing operations, content, design, and product marketing across the company’s five regions in North America, Latin America, China, Asia-Pacific and India. With such a massive department spread across the world, Avrahamy admits his department has “a very complex tech stack.”

Still, if even one person in one office somewhere in the world has a need for a specific solution, Avrahamy has just two words for them: “Buy it.” In fact, he encourages most of them to not even bother asking if the solution is under $100. Unless the tool requires broader integration with the company’s more comprehensive enterprise software products, he says he wants his team to try things out and experiment and find what works for them.

“I give my team a lot of freedom,” he says. “I encourage them to go out and buy and test and then expense it. If our creative director decides that she wants to bring something in that is going to be used mainly for the function of the design department — which is about six people — I’m going to encourage her to just do it.”

Avrahamy says he is much more involved with what he calls “heavy tools” — tools whose purchase require a sales cycle of a month or more. And even then, he considers himself to be relatively price-agnostic once he begins shopping around. He rarely finds himself standing before his company’s head of finance pleading his case for the most expensive solution on the market.

“I go for the best of breed,” he says. “We certainly look at the price, but it’s not a key consideration. Look, there are extreme cases — something is $5,000 a year versus something else that is $100,000 a year. In those cases, yeah, we need to investigate why is one so much more expensive than the other. But in most cases, I’m not price sensitive, nor do I necessarily have to build the case. In most cases, I’ve learned that most of the time, going cheap can be way more damaging down the line.”

Chapter 4 – The Role of Sales

B2B Buying Journey_Chapter 4

What do B2B buyers want from salespeople?

B2B buyers have a lot of opinions about sales. Some of these opinions are, well, not exactly positive. But there’s no denying that sales plays a huge role in any B2B buying journey, and there are certainly insights to be gained about what makes for a good sales experience.

For example — and this should come as no surprise — response time matters. The executives we talked to are all busy, and the faster they can get a response, the better. We heard more variety around what they look for in a sales pitch, when they want to discuss pricing, and how likely B2B buyers are to stick with a salesperson versus exploring other solutions.

It’s easy to criticize sales, but its role in the buyer’s journey is extremely important. Listen to what these executives want from the sales process, and see if your own approach delivers.

“A good pitch delivered in a timely manner is the most effective selling mechanism,” says Mark Kosoglow, VP of Sales at Outreach. “Some good salesperson has a good pitch that comes in a timely manner through the phone, email, LinkedIn — something that says, ‘Hey, this is a good value prop’ for something I’m looking to solve — and so I engage with the salesperson.”

Mark Kosoglow

Kosoglow doesn’t answer every email or take every phone call, but he does it “a lot.” He’s more open to sales calls than the others we spoke to, in part because as a sales leader he sees it as his job to read and evaluate emails, as well as to study the techniques other sales teams are using to pitch their products. He’s also open to hearing sales pitches because that’s typically how he discovers technology solutions he didn’t know existed.

For example, he says right now he’s struggling to figure out a way to define territories. His instinct isn’t to go searching for a tailor-made solution but rather to “get out the spreadsheet” and find a way to do it manually. If such a solution existed, now would be an opportune time for a salesperson to get in touch with him, because he would definitely listen.

“It wouldn’t occur to me that there’s something you can just purchase,” he says. “That’s the way I think personally. My dad taught me to work hard. I don’t think about shortcuts and technology like magical little shortcuts. I need to be introduced to them. I don’t go looking for them.”

As for what makes a good pitch, he says it doesn’t need to be personalized. If the email can say in three or four lines how it’s going to help him, he’ll usually check out the website. And if the website is compelling, he’ll book a demo.

“I could read a blog, I could go to a conference and learn about sales tools and stuff, or I could just pay attention to all the emails in my inbox every day and read a few of them and get some really cool ideas,” he says. “That’s just the way that I choose to do it.”

Once he’s engaged with the salesperson, the main thing he wants to hear about is how the product is going to help him. Part of what he likes about good salespeople is their expertise. They understand his problem better than he does, and they know more about all the possible solutions. He’ll shop around to make sure there’s not an obviously better solution elsewhere, but if a salesperson has his trust and attention, he’ll usually stick with them.

“If I have all this time invested in the person that I’m speaking with,” he says, “and I feel like their product is about the same as everybody else and they understand me, I’m not going to go through that whole process with somebody else.”

“I’m going to be their best customer,” says Meagen Eisenberg, CMO of corporate travel management leader TripActions. “I’m going to push it to the limit, I’m going to give feedback. I want to be their showcase customer. I want them to write a case study. And then I’m going to give that back by helping them get more customers.”

Meagan Eisenberg

Eisenberg’s commitment to vendors is beneficial for both sides. Over the years, being a good customer while leading marketing at industry juggernauts like DocuSign, MongoDB and TripActions has allowed her to build better relationships with vendors, get better support, and be the “first mover” on new tools and solutions. She has supported this strategy with a purpose-built internal team that is agile and ready to put new tech to the test.

“I want a reputation that vendors want to work with us,” she says. “That way they’re going to bring their best stuff, their new ideas — because they know I want to innovate and break new ground for our business.”

As a CMO, Eisenberg is evaluating new software “all the time.” This includes a lot of time spent taking vendor calls and listening to salespeople tell her how their solution is going to give her exceptional results or solve a pain point. Even if it’s a problem she hasn’t yet prioritized, or a solution she isn’t interested in at the time, she’s always listening and evaluating in case it is relevant in the future. Plus it gives her insight into how other technology companies are approaching the market; what works and what doesn’t.

“Sometimes they’ll have their pitch,” she says, “and I’ll go, ‘Do I have this pain or not?’ And if I don’t have the pain, I’ll tell them, ‘Not right now.’ And then maybe three or six months later, I’ll be like, ‘Oh yeah, that might work now,’ and I’ll go back to them for more details.”

Eisenberg’s preferred way of learning about a new solution is to start by looking at their website. If she’s interested, she’ll book a call — but she wants it to be less of a sales call and more of a product demo. She’d prefer not to waste time giving the sales team info they could have already gathered about her and the business elsewhere. Instead, she wants to see the product and understand how it works, backed by examples of how other companies are getting value out of it.

“Customer stories are huge,” she says. “I want to see how customers are using it, and more often than not, I’m probably connected to that person and can call them to find out what they really think. That’s what helps me visualize the value I’m going to get. It also gives me ideas. ‘Oh, I’m not doing that yet, that’s a great idea. I love it. I want to go and do that.’”

She says email is her preferred way of communicating with vendors, and that if she fills out a form and doesn’t hear back immediately (“I expect you to contact me that day”), that’s a miss by the vendor to get her at the peak of interest. Other pet peeves include salespeople who start a call by asking to hear about her biggest pains and priorities (“It has nothing to do with the solution”) and salespeople who ask for her budget.

“When you want to know my budget before I know what it costs, it’s frustrating,” she says. “I get you are trying to see if I meet your BANT or get a max quote, but it is too soon for that. If you make a compelling enough case for the technology and its value, I’ll prioritize budget.”

Vendors who provide real value are in a good position to reap the rewards. Eisenberg is not “one of those” CMOs who keeps new tools and solutions a secret. She’s confident in her team’s ability to move fast and stay ahead of competitors, allowing her to give a shout out to her vendors and spread the word throughout her conference presentations, peer breakfasts, and case studies.

“If I get value, I will refer them to everyone,” she says. “I will do LinkedIn posts, I will tweet, I will talk to colleagues. I will rave about them all day long just as our customers do about TripActions.”

“I get so many emails from sales reps and I almost never open them,” says Michael Freeman, VP of Demand Marketing and Marketing Operations at financial planning software company Adaptive Insights. “You can tell right away when you’re the target of a massive carpet-bombing as opposed to a smart, targeted precision strike. It’s almost always the former.”

Michael Freeman

Freeman is a tough audience when it comes to cold sales pitches. He estimates he receives about 300 emails from vendors every couple of months. Most emails, he says, tend to be of the “carpet-bombing” variety. He deletes those almost immediately after they hit his inbox. Of the ones that remain, he’ll read a handful before deleting those, as well. Out of every 300 vendor emails he gets, he responds to one or two. And it’s rarely because of the solution they’re selling.

“I like seeing that they put the time in and personalized their outreach,” he says. “And I don’t just mean it says, ‘Dear Michael.’ I like to see they’ve actually done their research on me and the company. You want to see some humanity.”

And whether he’s responding to one of the hundreds of cold pitches in his inbox or making the first contact himself when he’s in the market for a new product, Freeman says he wants the company’s response to be “as close to immediate as is reasonably possible.” When he’s the one reaching out, he says he rarely calls or sends emails as the initial contact — he prefers chatbots or filling out request forms on the company’s website. But even then, he says he wants to hear from a rep in a matter of hours.

“I’m blown away by how slowly people respond to a customer coming to their door saying, ”Hey, I’m interested in talking to you,’” he says. “It’s mind-boggling that someone would make you wait when you’re offering your business. We should hear back in less than a day, and, ideally, in a couple of hours.”

Once he’s talking to a rep, Freeman says he doesn’t want too much time to pass before broaching the subject of cost. At some point within the first or second conversation, he wants to get an idea of the company’s billing model — is it based off the number of users? The number of API calls? Is it a fixed price? An annual subscription? Once he understands the billing model, he’s willing to wait a bit to hear an actual price, as long as he can figure out what the range might be.

“I want to get a rough order of magnitude,” he says. “Is this going to be a $10,000-ish solution? $100,000? A million? I’m not necessarily going to hold them to it, but I want to know whether we’re talking about low five-figures or high five-figures. Or is it even more than that? I want them to give me a sense of A, what are the levers that will cause me to get different pricing, and B, based on what I’ve told you our need is, where do you think we might land?”

Getting at least a ballpark range is the easiest way to ensure no one wastes anyone’s time.

“If I have something that I’m only willing or able to spend $20,000 on and they say, ‘OK, well, our starting price is $140,000,’ it’s going to be a short conversation,” he says. “When there’s that kind of disparity, it’s, ‘Thank you very much. Really appreciate your time. Have a great one!”

“A bad sales experience is a one-hour meeting where I learn about their company and they ask me to share my problems,” says Sophie Chesters, CMO of customer experience platform Medallia. “I simply do not do that. They need to do their research, not ask me to do it.”

Sophie Chesters

When summarizing what she wants from sales reps, Chesters keeps it simple: “Relevance, relevance, relevance.” She wants to learn as clearly and succinctly as possible how the tool in question will help her solve a problem or improve performance. She says that moving away from boring slide presentations to live conversations — as long as they’re relevant to her goals and objectives — helps accelerate the process.

“I just want to know how it’s going to work for me,” she says. “Salespeople that know my business and my problem and can clearly articulate how they’ll solve it with an example of someone in a similar position who has had success with the solution, will often win.”

As a B2B buyer, Chesters always starts from a need. “Who has time to research without a concrete goal?” she says. A great marketing campaign, well-targeted technology, and even the odd cold email may catch her eye if it’s relevant to a problem her team is trying to solve or optimize, but she’s not the kind of CMO who is constantly seeking out new tools.

What she does do is rely on her team for evaluation, communication, and recommendations during the buying process. Living in Silicon Valley also enables her to network with potential suppliers, both thanks to her location and her role as a technology CMO. Testimonials from fellow CMOs are “extremely important,” though she cautions against taking any recommendation at face value.

“Using other people’s recommendations has to be done with the applicability test,” she says. “Not everyone’s recommendation is necessarily applicable because internal resources and expertise are so important, particularly if you’re buying something like technology.”

Once the buying journey is nearly complete and she’s made the decision to purchase, there isn’t typically a lot of work left to do, provided she and her team (and the salesperson they’ve been working with) have done the right work getting them there. In other words, if they’ve built a strong business case, getting approval shouldn’t require more than a few meetings.

“I find that a clear defined pain point validated across the company, combined with a well-researched vendor and impact projections, support a smooth process,” she says.

The role of a salesperson, in Chesters’ eyes, is to streamline the entire process, from discovery to evaluation to decision. If the solution is relevant, then a clear, compelling case based on an identified need and solution will go a long way in convincing her to buy.

“Who doesn’t want help solving a problem or improving performance?” she says.

Chapter 5 – Building a Case

B2B Buying Journey_Chapter 5

How do B2B buyers make a business case to buy?

In the B2B world, the buying journey doesn’t end with the decision to purchase. Once a buyer has made up their mind, they typically have to put together a business case to get budget approval and ensure ROI. The larger the organization (and the higher the price point) the more complex this process becomes — often taking more time than discovery and evaluation.

Of the executives we spoke to, most talked about the challenge of putting together a sound, compelling business case. It has to answer questions about every step of the journey leading up to the decision to purchase — what problem the tool solves, what it costs, how it was chosen, how it compares to alternatives, what it takes to implement, and how and when it will add value.

Fortunately, these executives also shared ways that marketers and salespeople can make this process easier by providing the right mix of information ahead of time. What we learned is that if you can help buyers build a business case, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.

“Here’s what we need, here’s why we need it, here’s how it’s going to have an impact on us, here are the products we’ve looked at, here’s the one we’ve selected, here’s how much it costs, here’s what it’s going to take to implement it and when we’ll get first value.”

Christina Ellwood

Christina Ellwood, a principal at Moreland & Associates with two decades of CMO experience, knows exactly what goes into making a business case for a new solution. She knows that with the number of stakeholders involved in B2B buying decisions, she needs to have done her homework and be equipped with the right information. And she says that a salesperson who can help her make a strong business case is going to have an advantage over competitors.

“That salesperson needs to feed me the information I’m missing,” she says. “I want to know from them, for companies of our size, what is the average onboarding time, what is the average cost for the ongoing process, that kind of thing. I can’t possibly know that information. I need things from the salesperson that only they know, or only they can know, that feed my case.”

While salespeople undoubtedly have a huge role to play in helping her pitch her case, Ellwood recognizes that part of her job is doing the research upfront to make sure she’s prepared to engage with them. To that extent, when shopping for a new solution, she doesn’t get involved with salespeople until she has a shortlist of products she’s interested in and a strong understanding of the criteria that are important to her and her team.

“The job of a good salesperson is to establish a relationship of trust,” she says. “Part of the reason for that is you feel inclined to do business with that salesperson rather than abandon them and go start a new relationship. For me, the objective criteria we establish ahead of time — what we’re looking for, why we need it, who benefits — allows us to have more freedom to evaluate multiple products, and we can resist the allure of a really good salesperson if the product doesn’t meet our criteria.”

Ellwood doesn’t go it alone. If a tool is going to be used primarily by someone other than her, she’ll let that person run discovery and evaluation, knowing that it ultimately comes down to their preference. If she is going to be the primary user, she gets even more people involved to ensure that they’ll also be able to derive value without having to rely on her for direction.

“If they can’t self-service on the tool, that means I have to service them, and I’m going to have to do that in some kind of report or something like that,” she says. “It’s harder for me and it’s way worse for them, because they can only get whatever I put in the report. I really try to find tools that not only I can use, but my peers can use.”

At the end of the day, it’s not just about making a strong business case. It’s about exploring and doing everything possible to choose the tool that will bring the most value to the company.

“I have a fair degree of autonomy,” says Maryvonne Tubb, VP of Global Marketing at network software provider Mavenir. “As long as I meet the corporate objectives and behave within the set budget, at a high level I can make the decision.”

Maryvonne Tubb

As a buyer, Tubb is “laser-focused” on objectives. She’s not a fan of randomness and isn’t the type of marketer who catalogs new tools just for the sake of it. She also has no time for cold sales outreach. The objective is what triggers her buying journey, and it’s what carries her to the finish line when she’s evaluating options, making a decision, and building a business case.

“I always have an objective when I start, and I can easily measure against that,” she says. “The complexity only comes from the variety of offerings out there and the fact that technology is moving so quickly that it’s hard to compare them.”

Tubb’s buying process typically involves creating a spreadsheet with her objectives and the tools she’s evaluating. She gives a checkmark to any solution that meets the main objective and eliminates any that don’t. From there she looks for additional features and capabilities that may set one solution apart, and she also begins to think about pricing.

“I have to be able to have multiple use cases for something or have it solve a particular problem that is costing me money at the time,” she says.

A hands-on person and self-described “techno geek,” Tubb admits she is more hands-on in the buying process than many of her peers. All the same, she believes it’s important for marketing leaders to stay closely involved in the evaluation and decision-making process, and to understand the capabilities and variety of use cases across different solutions.

“You may not need to be involved with the first level of screening, but you do need to be involved in the decision-making,” she says. “Because what you’re not buying is as important as what you are buying — the capabilities you’re giving up, and so on.”

Periodically, Tubb will reach out to other teams in her organization if they’ll be impacted by a purchase. However, if it’s limited to the marketing function, she’ll make the decision on her own based on how it helps her meet her basic objective, and the number of additional features or functionality that she could potentially use for something else.

The final consideration for making a purchase is that it has to be able to be implemented quickly and easily. If it’s intuitive and integrates into the team’s existing systems, she’ll be more likely to purchase than something that requires technical intervention or a user manual.

“If you have to train me for a few days, it’s probably too complicated for my evolving needs,” she says. “I think in this environment that’s a reasonable expectation.”

“It can be tremendously frustrating as a marketer to have tools mandated to you,” says Neil Costello, UK Marketing Director for financial services provider Lowell. “When you’re at a company with thousands and thousands of employees, a lot of your technology solutions are required to meet multiple markets at the same time. In those situations, the process tends to be heavily driven by the IT team. So you’re more or less working with whatever you get.”

Neil Costello

Costello knows what he’s talking about. He spent more than a decade running marketing operations for global insurance giant Aviva, a FTSE 25 behemoth with more than 10,000 employees. Moving to a startup with around 500 employees has been a completely different ballgame.

It’s Costello’s nature to constantly be looking for newer, more efficient software solutions. He’s a regular on the trade show circuit and a frequent reader of analyst reports on new products.

“If you’re out of touch and looking inward for two or three years, not looking to improve your stack, you’re way behind,” he says.

Costello says that working at larger organizations can be stifling. Since joining Lowell and before that, Atom Bank, he’s free to be as hands on as he wants as he builds up the company’s stack.

“I’m sitting there with a notepad on a daily basis, watching what’s going on,” he says. “I know what my teams are responding to and reacting to. I take their recommendations seriously. The leaders who are ultimately making the buying decisions have to deeply understand what those solutions will provide. In a FTSE 25 company, I’d be three or four steps removed from that.”

Once he or his team has identified a need, he says it’s easier to get the green light to pursue a solution at a smaller, more nimble startup than in larger organizations.

“At a smaller business, you have the credibility and trust of your executive team,” he says. “Especially in those situations where the solutions are wholly owned by the marketing team to do their jobs more effectively and don’t need to be built into other infrastructures. In larger organizations, it’s painfully difficult to get some of those solutions.”

Once it’s time to start shopping and evaluating different solutions, Costello says if he’s the one reaching out, he’ll typically contact sales reps via email or LinkedIn. That initial touch will also serve as a test for how well a company would respond to an issue if he were an actual customer. If he doesn’t hear back in 24 hours, that company moves to the bottom of the list.

“It sends a real signal,” he says. “You want to see that someone is reacting quickly, that the conversation is wanted. It’s so important that service is wrapped around the solution. If we’re going to go with your company, we want to know that someone is going to be on the other end of the phone immediately. To deploy your solution and walk away and say, ‘We’ll pick up your messages and reply via email in 48 hours’ just isn’t acceptable, these days.”

“The best companies we see are the ones that invest in execution and enablement,” says Steve Rotter, CMO of low-code development platform OutSystems. “They’re not just about selling a technology. They’re not just about glitzy demos. In their sales process, they will focus on how to enable you and make you successful. That’s a huge differentiator.”

Steve Rotter

Rotter is a fairly balanced buyer. He shops for new solutions based on a combination of need and opportunity. He’s involved in the buying process but relies on his team to lead evaluation. Like many CMOs, he leverages his network for recommendations and feedback. But if there’s one factor that can push him over the edge at the end of his buying journey, it’s time to value. In fact, once a purchase is made, he wants the product to be up and working in 30 days.

“When I say rapid time to value,” he says, “we’ve got to be able to launch it and execute and see some kind of impact within one month.”

With the explosive growth of OutSystems, Rotter and his team are looking for solutions that can be implemented and start helping them right away. A salesperson who can show clearly and honestly what value looks like, and what it will take to get there, will have an advantage.

When dealing with sales reps, Rotter says he values transparency just about above all else. He knows that salespeople have a tendency to exaggerate and cover up shortcomings, and so the two things he looks for in the sales process are honesty and efficiency. As a buyer, he doesn’t want anything hidden, and he doesn’t want to waste time.

“A lot of these MarTech companies, they’re small and I think the salespeople feel shy about saying, ‘Hey, we’re only 30 people,’ or, ‘This is only the second version of our product and we’ve only been live for 18 months,’” he says. “CMOs today are used to buying barely released stuff. We’re not expecting version 15 of a product that’s been in the market for over a decade.”

As a CMO, Rotter has control over most buying decisions and usually doesn’t need to put together much of a business case within the organization. The exceptions are tools and technologies that impact other departments. In those cases he’ll go to his fellow department heads to get their buy-in, not so much on cost as for implementation strategy.

“That’s a question we’re always asking — do we have the bandwidth to do this?” he says.

Even after the new technology is implemented, there’s still work to do to validate the business case. As the company uses an OKR (objectives and key results) framework for business planning, new technology purchases are subject to the same scrutiny as any major initiative. This means evaluating down the line to measure and report on results.

“Typically when we launch anything new, there’s a very clear structure,” Rotter says. “So we build that into our business metrics and make sure we hold ourselves accountable.”

The B2B buying experience is an often long and winding journey. But it doesn’t have to be painful. The tactics, tips and strategies discussed in this book will hopefully help marketers and salespeople alike provide a more seamless, more human buying journey that works for not only the company, but most importantly, the customer.

You can start improving your buyer’s journey with conversational marketing. Learn how at drift.com.

B2B Buying Secrets

We asked 20 marketing and sales leaders at large technology companies a simple question: How do you buy? Find out what they said in our new book.