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Channel has to help customers with confidence crisis

Those trying to go through the IT buying process are struggling with too much information and trying to make sense of vendor marketing messages

Usually when the word ‘confidence’ comes up in relation to the buying process it refers to the faith that customers have in the vendors they have chosen to work with.

But against a backdrop of an increasing pressure to digitally transform the business and the ever present threat of serious consequences if it goes wrong in an always on connected world ,users are facing a crisis of confidence in themselves.

The revelation that customers are struggling to choose what technologies to roll out has been shared by Gartner and could have repercussions for the channel.

With partners being regularly dubbed as ‘trusted advisors’ this latest analysis of the market seems to underline the importance of the relationship between the channel and their customers.

 “The single biggest sales challenge today is, in fact, customers’ confidence, but it’s confidence with a twist,” said Brent Adamson, distinguished vice president in Gartner’s Sales practice. “It’s not customers’ confidence in suppliers, but customers’ confidence in themselves and their ability to make good buying decisions that is in critically short supply.”

The analyst house identified an opportunity for the channel to help customers decipher the numerous marketing messages they can gather during the buying process and guide them towards making a decision.

Gartner surveyed a large number of chief sales officers and found that 89% said they had no problems getting access to high-quality information but they struggled to make sense of it. The result was that rather than going for something ambitious they opted to keep it simple and roll out IT changes that would be less disruptive.

“Ironically the majority of suppliers and sellers unwittingly exacerbate this very problem by focusing both content and sales conversations on ‘thought leadership’ and high levels of ‘expertise,’ all in an effort to stand out in customers’ eyes,” said Adamson.

The advice from Gartner, which plays to the channel’s strengths, was for customers to work with those that would be prepared to take the time to understand their business needs and the challenges they were looking to solve.

“Much like sales enablement, suppliers must focus on what we call ‘Buyer Enablement,’” said Adamson. “By combining empathy with deep industry and customer knowledge, suppliers can develop and deploy information that is specifically designed to help buyers buy — just as they do to enable sellers to sell more easily.”

The rewards are there for those that take the right approach because the purchasing decisions that are made once a customer feels they have the right information are more significant. Handing the user confidence leads to bolder IT investments.

Gartner found that helping customers understand information succeeded in closing: ‘a high-quality, low-regret deal an astonishing 80% of the time’.

There are warnings for those suppliers that keep hoping that the glossy brochure will do the talking for them with Adamson forecasting difficulties ahead for that approach.

“The most successful organizations today aren’t solving for a sales problem, they’re solving for a human problem,” he added. “Those that aren’t working to build customer confidence will continue to struggle in today’s complex buying environment.”

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