At SES San Jose 2009, one of my favorite sessions was entitled, "The BuyerSphere Project: Understanding B2B Buyer Patterns."
This major B2B research initiative was conducted by Enquiro Research with input from Google, Business.com, Covario, Marketo and DemandBase. So, the session was moderated by Gord Hotchkiss, President and CEO of Enquiro, and the speakers included: Mark McMaster, Senior Planner of B2B and Technology Markets at Google, Ben Hanna, VP Marketing at Business.com, Susan Scarth, VP Marketing at Demandbase, Jon Miller, VP Marketing at Marketo, and Dr. Matthias Blume, Chief Analytics Officer at Covario.
Their findings showed that most marketers aren't effectively leveraging online assets to their best potential. Among other things, the notion of a strictly followed, traditional buying funnel is simply not accurate. In many instances, risk dictates buying behavior. In many high risk, complex purchases, search is incredibly important as an integrator across online and offline channels and face-to-face persuasion is still necessary.
The BuyerSphere project looked at how online strategies became artificially separated from traditional best practices, how they can be more effectively integrated, and the part search plays as a major influencer. This panel reviewed the research from over 100 face-to-face interviews, hundreds of eye tracking sessions and over 3,000 survey responses in total.
The project represents a major step forward in understanding B2B buyer patterns and the part online marketing can play in influencing them.
Following the session, I interviewed Hotchkiss about the BuyerSphere Project. He said B2B marketers are frustrated as marketing decisions are not based on rational decision making. Risk and fear play huge roles in B2B buying.
Hotchkiss discussed the "buying funnel" and its history, but concluded it's not a workable model. For more information, go to the B2B BuyerSphere or watch the video interview below.