Understanding the IT Buying Process

Understanding the IT Buying Process

In nearly every conversation I have with AV sales people, someone asks, “How does the IT guy really buy products?”

While this quest may sound unattainable, there really is a simple buying process for IT buyers. In fact, sales people who align their efforts to IT buying phases often realize a 10 percent lift in sales and reduce their sales cycle by 71 percent. Yet this approach is often new and elusive to AV professionals. Let’s consider a few tips to understanding how IT buyers evaluate and purchase technology products, so you too can sync your sales efforts and close more deals.

The IT buying process has three phases: education, evaluation, and selection.

Approximately 70 percent of the education phase takes place online— well before IT buyers engage with a live sales person. What do you do? Engage online.

Tip 1. Become Part of the Digital Conversation

Insert yourself into the digital conversation with IT buyers. Be where they are and include yourself in the conversations. Join IT communities, read IT blogs and IT chats. Understand IT buyers’ needs and challenges and become accustomed to how they interact and converse. Then include yourself in the conversation by offering knowledge and helpful advice when and where it makes sense. IT buyers will get to know and respect you based on your comments.

The IT buying process has three phases: education, evaluation, and selectionKey takeaway: Join online conversations and start a discussion.

In the evaluation phase, the goal of the IT buyer is to winnow every possible solution to just a few. They seek product-specific information in this phase. They compare and contrast solutions, gain deeper insights into technical specifications, try online demos, and read technical white papers.

Tip 2. Strengthen Your Online Relationships

Offering valuable information moves you from starting a conversation to building an online relationship. It’s a way to secure your online reputation as a knowledgeable source and trusted contributor. Demonstrate your knowledge by providing information not only on your solution, but also about your competitors. Offer content on new technologies, industry research, and trends. Become someone they trust and want as a vendor-partner.

Key takeaway: Build an online relationship and establish trust.

During the selection phase, IT buyers create a “short list” of usually three solutions to send to their CIO or executive team for approval. They need particular information about those three solutions, information such as financial justification with business and financial cases, service agreements, and technical support contracts. In this phase, IT buyers move from digital activities to phone calls and in-person meetings to get this information. Most important, they seek a vendor to provide that information.

Tip 3. Be an Ally Online and In Person

This is when your comments, contributions, and rapport pay off. You’ve developed a credible relationship with the IT buyer and been through every buying phase together. IT buyers will now reach out to you. They’ll email or call you, trusting that you will help build a financial case for them.

Key Takeaway: Be the ally the IT buyer needs to get your solution approved internally.

Erin Bolton is an award-winning marketer who creates sales and marketing programs for technology companies.