During my time covering the B2B marketing tech space, I’ve come to a somewhat obvious realization: There are a lot of solutions to choose from. In fact, according to Scott Brinker’s 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic, there are roughly 3,500 available.
It doesn’t look like that number will decrease any time soon. According to Brinker’s supergraphic, the number of solutions available to B2B marketers has almost doubled every year since he began tracking them in 2011. Even Ashton Kutcher is getting into the investment game for young tech entrepreneurs to battle over market share — and buyers’ attention spans.
This can be a blessing and a curse for B2B marketing teams looking for solutions to their day-to-day problems. Here, I explore three risks, and the potential rewards, B2B marketers are gambling on as they wade through the B2B marketing tech landscape.
1. More Choices = A Longer Buying Cycle
The inundation of marketing technology can have a significant impact on the sales cycle. Almost half of B2B marketers (48%) said the length of their purchase cycle had increased somewhat since last year, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report. Another 6% said it had grown significantly, while only 10% said their cycle had shortened.
This can be a big problem for B2B marketers looking to find a quick solution to their problems. With buying cycles averaging between six months and one year — depending on the solution offering and target verticals, among other factors — marketers can become overburdened with a limited tech stack and important business purchases looming over their heads.
The Reward: Although making a purchase decision takes longer, having more options means B2B companies will be more likely to find the solution that precisely meets their needs. The continuous growth of new solutions can be a sign that B2B buyers prefer solutions tailored towards specific verticals or company sizes, instead of the all-in-one solutions offered by companies such as Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft.
2. More Choices = More Opportunities For “Failure”
Having a lot of options doesn’t always guarantee satisfaction. The aforementioned Demand Gen Report study shows that only 34% of respondents described their last major B2B purchase as “very positive.” A majority (52%) described their last purchase as “somewhat positive.” In comparison, only 2% said they had a “negative” experience.
Building a tech stack is much like a giant, expensive puzzle, which could explain why B2B buyers are taking their time to make purchase decisions. This also means vendors have to focus more on their buyers’ needs to accelerate their sales funnel and enhance customer experience.
The Reward: There’s always a chance that a newly bought solution won’t be a perfect fit into your current tech stack, but many solutions come with custom API offerings, enabling users to format how they integrate with their other tools. These custom integrations can provide users with deeper insight into their marketing initiatives, and provide a holistic view of how marketing is impacting company revenue.
3. More Choices = A Demotivated Marketing Team
Buying committees end up making a final purchasing decision, often leaving out some of the end users of the solution. Lack of communication between marketing managers and their colleagues can lead to a lack of vision, which can demotivate teammates from using the tool altogether.
That discouragement can also be caused by lack of knowledge about the solution in particular. Prior to purchase, buying committees must guarantee that their teams will be able to use the solution to the best of their abilities. If not, the use — and overall ROI — of the solution can and will be limited.
The Reward: With a new solution comes a new mentality that has to be adopted within a marketing team’s day-to-day routines in order to maximize the use of the tool. This can be done through hands-on training, or even discussions with the solution vendor to understand the best way to optimize their new tool and not feel overwhelmed. Ultimately, as Lenati recently highlighted in a qualitative research study, continuous education must be promoted within B2B marketing teams to gain the most ROI from their tech investments.
An avid B2B journalist with a knack for all things trendy in the POS, mobile and social space.
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