Sales & Marketing CEB Keynote Presentation

The other week, a few members of our team and I were at the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit in Las Vegas.

For those who may not be familiar, CEB (now a division of Gartner) is a large B2B research and consulting firm.

Their Sales and Marketing Summit is an annual conference focused on, you guessed it, the worlds of sales and marketing.

If you’re in the B2B world, you’ve probably heard (been bombarded with) the stat: “57% of the buyer’s journey is over before they connect with your sales team.” That’s a CEB stat.

The keynote at the event was given by Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB, co-author of The Challenger Sale, and Rob Corddry look-alike and included some interesting insights that I wanted to share in this post.

B2B Buying Today

Going back to that 57% of the buying journey is over statistic, as shown by the slide below the reality is actually much worse, at least it’s much worse if you care most about sales being able to connect with prospects live.

Less than 17% of a buyer’s time is spent meeting with potential suppliers. Compare that with a whopping 45% of their time is spent researching independently.
B2B Buying CEB


It’s Actually Less Than 17%

Maybe 17% seemed ok? Well, that’s the total amount of time the buyer spends meeting with ALL potential suppliers.

Unless you don’t have any competitors, that means that 17% needs to be divided by the number of other vendors you’re competing with for that deal.

Figure you have somewhere between 2 and 4 competitors in any given deal, that means that customer is spending a grand total of between 8% and 4% of their time actually speaking/interacting with your sales team.
CEB B2B Buying


Digital Spans The Entire Buying Process

Think your buyers are doing the majority of their research online during the early phases of the buying process?

Think again.

90% of B2B buyers are using online resources (your website, social, third-party sites, etc.) throughout the buying process.

Oh, and if the buyer is a millennial, that number goes up to over 95%.


digital all the time


So, What Are They Doing?

All this time spent online, what are your prospects actually doing? As you might expect, it all centers around mapping their options.

The beginning and the middle of the cycle is spent whittling the list down, understanding pricing, competitive differentiators, etc.

However, it’s the final step–the I-better-have-all-my-bases-covered step–that you might find surprising.

Are you helping to ensure that the buyer has that critical information at the very end of their process?

Better yet, are you using that step to disrupt your competitors, who likely isn’t providing that information?
what are buyers doing


Final Thoughts: It’s All About Your Website!



So, apparently, your website is the #1 place buyers look for information on your solution.

While it’s probably a good thing for all of us to be reminded of, it was difficult not to laugh out loud.

Brent’s parting quote was literally something along the lines of “now go out and fix your websites!”. Lol. Where are we and what year is this?

Perhaps it wasn’t a part of their study, but I think Brent missed the primary point: yes, buyers are online throughout their buying process, but your company’s website is only one place they’re searching.

It may well be the #1 destination, however, we all know there are lots of other sources we as buyers (and let’s be honest, we’re all buyers, even if we’re sellers too) check: social media, Google, analyst reports, user reviews to name a few.

Any B2B marketer with a modicum of experience would understand that the same goes for top-performing sales teams.

While the marketing department might need to do a little work on the website (when is this not the case?), this entire presentation was a case for social selling.

If the prospect is less and less available to sales in-person or over the phone, it doesn’t mean they’re impossible to engage with.

It just means that their habits have changed, that they’ve moved, like a migratory animal who’s changed his course because there’s not enough food on the old route.

One of the primary places buyers have/continue to move to is social: they’re on it every day and they’ve implicitly given your salespeople permission to engage with them (if they’re capable).

Aside from the fact the conclusion of Brent’s presentation fell flat as a pancake, the stats and learnings that led up to it were insightful and should be taken to heart by all B2B marketers and salespeople.

Although the corporate website has been around for 20 years, it’s a continually changing world.

Want to predict the future?

It would be a good idea to look at what’s happening in the consumer world; there are few things you can’t order with a couple clicks. It’s safe to say that’s the direction B2B is headed as well.