Wilton, Conn. (PRWEB) December 6, 2006
Consultants are being paid millions of dollars by business-to-business organizations to co-market with them; is the money worth it? A new national survey from SiriusDecisions, the leading marketing and sales research firm, found that consultants are least likely to be trusted by business-to-business decision makers in the early (education) stages of the buying process and are never as trusted as analysts or peers.
The survey found that sources of marketing information that are trusted the most by b-to-b decision makers include industry analysts (29%) and peers (22%). Only 7% percent listed consultants as their most trusted b-to-b information source regardless of the stage of their buying process.
Consultants tend to be less trusted by b-to-b decision makers in the early (education) stages of buying cycles and more trusted during middle, or solution research and selection phases. By comparison, industry analysts tend to be trusted throughout these cycles.
"As marketers make final tweaks to their 2007 budgets, they need to keep in mind that while b-to-b prospects consistently respond to marketing campaigns from trusted sources, these sources change depending on the stages of their buying process," said Tony Jaros, Vice President of Research for SiriusDecisions.
SiriusDecisions' First Annual "Prospect Demand Survey" surveyed senior b-to-b decision makers in 1,016 worldwide companies, ranging in size from $10 million to $10 billion. The Web-based survey was conducted in late spring 2006.
In the later buying stages, the survey found that content that is created by industry analysts is three times more credible than content from consultants, and nearly twice that of trade publications. The most commonly preferred offer was trials/demos (62% of respondents placed the offer in their top three).
"We believe it's high time that marketers embrace rather than try to ignore the fact it is not about going to the right trade show, creating the best email campaign, or spending a lot of money on sponsored search," said Jaros. "The more work you can do to help a prospect move along their buying cycle, the shorter the corresponding sales cycle will be."
"There is no one marketing tactic, or ultimate source of content for marketing campaigns. Success is in understanding a prospect's buying cycle, and applying tactics and sources appropriately," said Jaros.
According to Jaros, webcasts have the most impact in the early stages of the buying process. "The efficacy of webcasts drops off in latter stages because the content in most b-to-b marketers' online events is education-focused rather than product-specific," said Jaros.
"In all stages of the buying process there is a hunger for do-it-yourself shopping that white papers and trials/demos fulfill," said Jaros.
Buyers are more likely to turn to consultants, once they understand that they need to solve a problem, but aren't sure of all the possible solutions or how to best go about choosing one. During this middle part of the buying process, the survey found that industry analysts were still the most trusted source (19%) with consultants (15%) and search engines (15%) sharing the second position.
Based on the survey's findings, here are specific ways that b-to-b marketers can improve their marketing and sales tactics:
- Understand how customers buy. Work with the sales teams to understand how customers buy. Without an understanding of these processes, marketing cannot consistently facilitate them.
- Avoid one-size-fits-all marketing. Tailor offers and co-marketing partners to the realities of the buying cycle rather than what marketing wants them to be.
- Use trusted sources, such as industry analysts, from the beginning of the buying cycle. This is much more likely to draw interest and convince prospects not only that a problem exists, but that it is imperative for them to solve it.
- Empower customers through tools and collateral. Help prospects make a decision more quickly and effectively by empowering them with tools and collateral. This will give an organization an inside track on competitors.
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