What is the Most Valued Content for IT Decision Makers?

Today’s buyer is more empowered than ever before, leveraging content from the Internet, discussion groups and social media to take charge of the purchase decision-making process. As a result:
  • SiriusDecisions reports that up to 67% of decision-makers already have a “clear picture” of the solution they want before Sales Reps are engaged.
  • Content marketing plays a more pivotal role – influencing decisions before reps are involved, and fueling reps' customer conversations when they are eventually engaged.
With the value of content marketing on the rise, the researchers at IDC’s CMO Advisory became curious, prompting the team to ask: “If content has become so valuable to buyers in facilitating purchase decisions, then what content do these decision makers perceive as the most valuable?".

The question was posed as a key portion of IDC’s annual 2013 IT Buyer Experience Study, surveying over 200 executive decision makers worldwide.

The results showed that in the later stages when sales reps and channel partners are involved in helping influence the decision, it was not Thought Leadership, Product Demos, Peer/Customer References, Industry Trends, Competitive Comparisons or Case Studies that most influenced the buying decision, this despite a wealth of investment in such content.

By a large margin, Financial Justification / ROI content was perceived as the most valuable in driving decisions. So why has Financial Justification / ROI become so important to IT buyers, indicated as the most valued content?

Clearly, there are new challenges:
  • The Rise of the Economic Buyer – CFOs and financial executives are “large and in charge” of more groups and more purchase decisions, putting in place more financial scrutiny and hurdles to any purchase decision. With economic diligence front and center, even non-financial executives now are more focused on the business metrics and bottom-line impact of purchase decisions. IDC reports that 95% of all enterprise purchase decisions now require a formal financial justification / ROI.
  • More Stakeholders – the average number of stakeholders involved in purchase decisions has risen a hefty 40% over just the past 3 years according to IDC.  In IT decisions, business units, IT and finance are all heavily involved. The complexity of more decisions makers is compounded in that each stakeholder sees value differently, in relation to their particular challenges, business drivers and key performance indicators – value is truly in the eye of the beholder.
  • The Value Gap – Sales and marketing often falls way short in providing the key financial justification content buyers need to make timely and favorable purchase decisions. In sales, this is such a big issue that SiriusDecisions indicates the “Inability to Communicate Value” is the #1 issue why sales has failed to meet quota, this for the second year running.
So, the big question:
  • Can you help buyers facilitate their financial decision making, easily and credibly quantifying their pain, justifying proposed gains and proving you are “not the same”.
  • Do you have the Financial Justification / ROI marketing content and sales tools to create personalized analyses for each unique opportunity and decision maker?
Unfortunately, buyers indicate that most vendors are not delivering the content needed to close the Value Gap, even though IDC indicates that buyers will significantly reward solution providers who can best help facilitate their decision-making.  

And what is the prize? IDC projects up to a 40% acceleration in decision-making cycles by providing the right content to help facilitate buyer decision cycles – with Financial Justification / ROI as the most valued content.

The business case is an easy one: A small investment in Financial Justification / ROI content and sales tools versus the revenue growth you could you realize with a 40% acceleration. The scales are well in favor of the solution providers who make the investment now in Financial Justification / ROI.

 Source: IDC's 2013 ITBuyer Experience Survey: Create and Close Customers up to 40% Faster 
n=193

1. Financial Justification/ROI (46%)
2. Product Demo/Proof of Concept (14%)
3. Peer/Customer References (10%)
4. Product/Service reviews and test results (8%)
5. Vision/Thought Leadership (7%)
6. Customer Case Studies (6%)
7. Industry Trends (3%)
8. Other (5%)

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