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What do longer B2B buying cycles mean for marketers?

Posted by Octopus Group - May 31, 2016

54% of B2B buyers state that they take longer to make decisions about buying products and services than they did 12 months ago. 

The stat is one of the findings from Tech Heads – The Sleepless CMO. Tech Heads is our annual survey of marketing directors and business buyers, looking at why purchasing decisions are getting longer and the impact it’s having on senior marketers.

Choice and competition between services, products and suppliers are the main contributors to a trickier buying process, along with the huge amount of content available to inform that process.

We spoke to 400 decision-makers in B2B, and the top three causes behind longer decisions are: greater choice of services/ products offered by suppliers, more sources of content to research/digest/consider, and a greater choice of suppliers in the market.

We asked them: Which of the following factors, if any, are adding time and complexity to the decision-making process? Below are the full results.

tech heads 2016 research and factors that make decision-making more complex in b2b

Buyers don’t want to take longer to make decisions. But, if identifying the points of difference between vendors eats up so much time, what choice do they have? Despite the wealth of available content, they’re not seeing enough that stands out.

The information gathering stage of the buying process is no longer a quick Google search and a visit to the vendor’s website.

Instead, it’s a time-consuming research exercise, with hours spent digging around for the right products.

But there is a way out

Statistics show that 70% of decision makers are more likely to work with a vendor that stands out as a clear differentiator. This tells us there’s a huge win waiting for the CMO that can position their company differently to their competitors, through considered planning and genuine innovation.

The Tech Heads research shows that the problem with B2B marketing is that everyone is saying the same thing, in the same way. With the result being that prospects are struggling to find messages that really connect with them.

So how do you stand out?

Leveraging creativity is how to tell a story your prospects haven’t heard before – helping to make marketing as exciting as it needs to be.

Creativity is not easy. It is subjective, hard to measure and sometimes requires businesses to take a chance on ideas, investing when they cannot be 100% sure of the outcome. But it also yields the greatest rewards, because, when it works, it puts a business so far ahead of its competitors that buying decisions take minutes rather than months.

For more insight on data trends for buyers and CMOs in B2B, download Tech Heads – The Sleepless CMO

Download Tech Heads – The Sleepless CMO


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