The IT purchase process is a collaborative effort with a cycle all its own. Here’s a tip: get in on the action early
Recently, we developed UBM Tech’s “Mind of the IT Pro” research survey to gain critical insight into the actions of business technology decision makers. Our goal was to build a profile of today’s IT pros and their organizations, to better understand the collaborative IT purchasing process, and to learn more about the best ways that vendors can engage these audiences in their digital and event marketing and targeting strategies.
A few bullet points underline our initial findings:
- Average respondents are in their 40s, college educated, and with more than 20 years’ experience. Over 90% are male.
- Average personal purchase involvement is $18.8 million
- 50% make tech decisions for their entire organization; 70% for an entire branch or higher
- 50% are involved in 3-5 IT projects simultaneously
- The length of a typical enterprise project is 3-6 months
The Purchase Process Journey
So much for the profiles…now for the journey. Three-quarters or more of those surveyed determine the technical need, set requirements and evaluate and recommend technology purchases. In other words, they initiate the process and are pretty much involved at every stage.
Once the process reaches the final approval stage, that responsibility traditionally falls to executive IT and corporate executive personnel. But early on is when your IT audiences are most involved, and it’s a collaborative effort. More than 60% use a group approach or “purchasing committee,” with the number of people involved depending on the investment level. Overall, there are typically in the range of 5-19 people involved in a tech purchase—with fewer than five involved in smaller purchases of under $1 million.
The RFP Process: It Gets Late Early
Almost 60% of survey respondents said there are typically 3-5 vendors involved in an RFP; fewer than three isn’t enough to make a reasonably comparative purchasing decision, while more than five is hard to manage. Equally important, the process moves quickly—most IT purchases take only 3-6 months after “scoping” the solution.
All of which leads us to our first tip: get involved early and don’t miss the boat. That’s because more than half of the IT pros in the survey said that vendors are identified quite early in the purchase process—at the very beginning, when the consideration of a new investment is first initiated, and then when the IT organization is defining its needs.
Additionally, it’s clear that the purchase process is well underway before any contact is initiated with a potential vendor. More than 50% say that a third or more of the purchase process is already complete before they engage with a sales rep, and more than a third are halfway or more through the process before engaging with a rep. All the more reason to be in the game before the actual engagements begin.
Getting On The Short List: Content Connects
Along with having a pre-existing relationship with a vendor—who ideally is a recognized market leader—two factors above all others influence IT pros when they’re selecting a particular tech solution. The first was the ability of a vendor to demonstrate how its technology can solve their specific business problem, and the second was by providing a clear return-on-investment (ROI) when demonstrating the viability of that solution.
Here’s where content connects. Because the two leading factors identified above are most often what IT pros are looking for from the content you provide them. Whether it’s a white paper or a webinar, a case study of a third-assessment or a tech demo at a trade show, solving your potential customer’s specific business problem while demonstrating clear ROI should be at the forefront of your content.
In conclusion, to reach your prospects during the purchasing process: get involved in the game early, and play the game with content that connects to your prospects' pain points.