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Jay McBain, a Principal Analyst for Channels, Partnerships & Alliances at Forrester, gave an incredible keynote at the ASAP Global Alliance Summit about the coming wave of new alliances.
In short, traditional partnerships have evolved, because buyers have changed.
This new wave of B2B buyers isn’t struggling with their superiors to deal with red tape and a slow approach. They’re going right around the CTO and straight to the sellers … after they’ve done all the research.
Our Alliance Aces host, Chip Rodgers, caught up with Jay after his talk at ASAP and got a deeper look at these new buyers, and how that impacts the future of alliances. Jay gave us 3 reasons buyers and buying behavior are rapidly evolving, then he shared the opportunity for alliances.
1: Buyers Are Avoiding IT
Myth: CTOs and CIOs are the key signatories on all major tech purchases
Truth: A new wave of buyers is intentionally avoiding IT
B2B sellers simply can’t rely on the traditional selling method of courting c-level technical leaders. A new wave of agile buyers has arrived. Two-thirds of tech decisions are made outside of IT, and 30 percent of these cases are actively blocking IT from involvement, Jay said (taken from Jay’s comments at Channel Partners Conference & Expo).
2: Buyers Have Millions of Choices
There are over 100 thousand tech products out there, and the permutations are nearly infinite when you consider joint solutions. (Jay predicts there will be millions of options within the next few years.)
Today’s buyers see these options, and they approach research from a standpoint of building their own 7-layer cake. In other words — they don’t think 1 company will ultimately supply a single solution that fulfills their needs — they expect to build a stack from a growing list of available technologies.
3: Buyers Don’t Want to Talk to You
Today’s buyers are spending 68% of their time doing research before they even talk with a single SDR (BDR, etc.). Often times, they’ve nearly made each of their vendor selections from their research.
Essentially, Buyers Look Like Consumer
Essentially, tomorrow’s buyers are today’s consumers. And guess what? They purchase (and research, and interact, and make decisions) the same way.
If you want to influence these decisions, Jay said you must know the answers to 3 questions about your buyer:
What do they read?
Where do they go?
Who do they follow?
“We all get 300 emails a day. But what are the 3 your buyer actually opens?” Jay said. “Which webinars are they signing up for? If they go to an event, which keynote would they actually attend? Who are the key people influencing them in that first 68% of their buyer’s journey?”
Oh, and this new wave of buying isn’t only impacting petty cash spends. “This is how they buy multi-million dollar investments.”
The Opportunity for Alliances (Welcome to P2P2P2P2P)
So, throw all these buying behaviors in the mix:
They want solutions now, without waiting for IT approval
Buyers know they’ll need to build a multi-layered solution from available products
They do their own research
They listen to influencers and thought leaders, not salespeople
Here’s the good news: The playing field is ripe for strong alliances. Buyers simply aren’t using the term “trusted advisor” anymore, and the proverbial “single throat to choke” is gone. They know it’s closer to the gig economy: Every technologist is a hyper-specialist, and they rapidly work on a deal, complete it (likely within 6 weeks), and move on to the next one.
These hyper-niche service providers have a demand backlog of 6 months, they're building businesses, and they’re making excellent profit margins. Jay says that hyper-specialists who work within a tight niche — say creating one piece of HR infrastructure for a regional hospital chain in upstate New York — are enjoying profit margins from 45% to 70%.
These specialists are in rapid growth mode, and they need alliances.
Again, this idea is coming straight from the consumer world: When you look around the world, 75% of trade happens indirectly. Virtually every time you buy — personally or professionally — you are dealing with channels. Rarely are you doing business with the original manufacturer or owner of the product.
Today’s buyers get that. And the opportunity for futurists rests on their ability to capitalize on these behaviors, on a rapidly expanding niche market of multi-layered joint solutions.
Agile, proactive companies must have collaboration and co-marketing. They must be working the virtual rooms, influencing the influencers. Those who aren't building the ecosystems and marketplaces that enable all of this will be left behind.
So. … welcome to partner to partner … to partner (and then add in about 3 or so partners).