A couple of days ago I received an email from my business partner, Jill Rowley, who shared the following diagram with me to highlight some incredible research done by Gartner.
This diagram examines the time a buyer spends on their activities – including independent research, and discussions at group and committee meetings to gain group consensus.
To put this into context, let’s look at it as if we were talking about a golf game. In golf, it’s estimated that the drive off the tee is somewhere around 11% of the game. That is exactly what happens with average golfers – they go the driving range, buy a giant bucket of balls, and smash that bucket of balls off their driver, and they feel like they accomplished something.
But when they actually get off the course and into a real game, they can’t figure out why they only shot 97 or 100 or 134. The reason for their poor performance? It’s because only 11% of the game is actually hitting the ball off the tee. In fact, 50% of the game is played from under 100 yards in – chipping in onto the green, and trying to reduce the putts to no more than two or three at most.
I use this analogy because a buyer is only meeting with you for 17% of their thought process. But many organizations spend oodles of time mastering the art of negotiation, the art of the demo, the art of value propositions when you’re in a boardroom or a conference call. That happens to be only 17% of the entire process.
The only way you can get to that 17% in the first place is if they reverse-golf backwards – meaning that the 17% which is driving, happens only if you can master the art of what takes place in the other 83% – putting, chipping, and short irons onto the green. For buyers, this means that the other 83% is spent on research and other activities – including 27% of buyers’ time being spent on researching independently online, 18% spent researching independently offline (talking to their peer network), and 22% spent meeting with a buying group.
If a buyer is only meeting with you for 17% of their thought process, why is your organization not sharing valuable insights to help with the 27% of time spent researching online? Why are you not preparing buyers when they’re researching offline? Why are you not sharing insights directly to them via email, via social media, connecting them with existing customers, and socially surrounding them, so that everyone at that table knows who you are, and they’re learning a little more about how you’re helping the organization?
I tell this story because the buyer is spending such little time and resources in a boardroom or conference call. And if you’re like most organizations, you’re spending all your time focusing on that 17% – mastering smashing the golf ball 400 yards off the tee block, but spending no time developing your digital presence, building an online band, sharing insights, researching and providing value to the buying committee, so you can earn a right into the boardroom. You need to earn the right to get that live meeting, so you can actually provide value in that final 17%.