Keynote | Busting the Bull on Buyer Enablement: What Research Actually Says About How Enabling Buyers Shortens the Sales Cycle

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The term “buyer enablement” is now bandied about as a catch phrase by many who know very little about it. Join author and thought leader Garin Hess on an interactive journey (and some fun-spirited competition) through the research that spawned an explosive new industry. Learn the surprising research-based data, paired with actionable principles and steps, that guarantee to help you shorten the buying cycle all while getting more productivity from existing resources.

In this keynote presentation, Garin Hess emphasizes the importance of buyer enablement, clarifying that it is not just a customer-focused approach, but also involves anticipating the needs of buyers before they even request it. He debunks common misconceptions about buyer enablement and highlights the challenges of B2B buying, with the goal of making the buying process and experience easier, more pleasant, and faster. Implementing effective buyer enablement solutions can significantly decrease buying cycle times and resolve buyer concerns and objections before they arise can build trust with the buyer and speed up the buying cycle. The speaker also stresses the importance of personalized content and keeping momentum during the gaps between meetings with buyers and shares six steps to begin with, including prioritizing tasks and coaching teams to become buying coaches.

  • 00:00:00 The speaker is introduced as Garin Hess, the founder and CEO of Consensus, who will be giving the opening keynote at DEMOFEST 2023. The moderator goes over some housekeeping items before introducing Hess, including information about Consensus Gives Back, which is a humanitarian cause that attendees are invited to donate to, and the DEMOFEST community on Discord. Hess mentions his book on buyer enablement and the research he conducted to write it, which had to be edited down significantly, and he proceeds to share his screen to begin his presentation.
  • 00:05:00 Garin Hess discusses the concerns of the misuse of the phrase “buyer enablement” becoming a trendy phrase without fully understanding its meaning and benefits. Hess clarifies that buyer enablement is not just a customer-focus approach but rather involves anticipating the needs of buyers before they even request it. Furthermore, the speaker emphasizes that the buyers do not always know what is best, and it’s the buying coaches who know the buying process better, and using their knowledge can help buyers achieve their desired outcomes. The speaker proposes a shift towards a buying coaching team rather than just a sales engineering team.
  • 00:10:00 Garin Hess debunks common misconceptions about buyer enablement. He argues that buyer enablement is not solely a buyer-first approach but involves input from buyer coaches. Hess emphasizes the importance of curating content for buyers and technology assisting in that process. Additionally, buyer enablement is not focused on objections or closing deals but coaching through commitments. Personalization is essential in buyer enablement, as every stakeholder in the buying group requires a unique experience. Lastly, buyer enablement is about the jobs that need to be done rather than following a linear buyer journey. The speaker engages in a poll to gauge how many buyers agree with the research presented in the session.
  • 00:15:00 Garin Hess highlights the challenges of B2B buying and how it is a broken, painful, slow, and difficult process. This is supported by the Gartner graphic which shows a highly recursive nonlinear task-based approach. The goal of buyer enablement, regardless of the industry, is to make the buying process and experience easier, more pleasant, and faster. The likelihood of a purchase is also discussed, with one person being more likely to make a purchase than a group of six people. These insights were derived from research and personal experience in technical sales, leading the speaker on a journey to improve the buying process with buyer enablement.
  • 00:20:00 Garin Hess discusses data from research done about 10 years ago on the likelihood of purchase in a buying group. The research showed that the likelihood to purchase drops as more people are added to the buying group, even though neither the need, problem, nor solution has changed. The data from more recent reports shows that the buying group today is north of 11 people, and in many industries, it can be as high as 20 people, making it more difficult to sell. The objective of buyer enablement is to help the champion go address, sell, and educate the other buyers in the buying group to make the purchase decision go more smoothly and faster.
  • 00:25:00 Garin Hess discusses how implementing effective buyer enablement solutions can significantly decrease buying cycle times, which can be slowed down by the involvement of multiple stakeholders. The data shows that organizations that have implemented buyer enablement models have seen a significant reduction in buying cycle times, making it crucial for organizations to adjust their approach to meet changing buyer behaviors and preferences. The speaker also highlights the importance of understanding the buying cycle from the buyer’s perspective and how this can help organizations engage buyers early on in the process, leading to a more pleasant buying experience for both parties.
  • 00:30:00 Garin Hess discusses how resolving buyers’ concerns and objections is a significant factor in the length of the buying cycle, with larger groups having more objections. However, it is better to preempt these objections and prevent them from arising in the first place rather than just handling them effectively after the fact. By doing so, it builds trust with the buyer and can significantly shorten the buying cycle. The presenter notes that objections are really just unanswered questions and suggests that most of these questions and objections are already clearly known in the minds of salespeople and solution consultants but are not written down and used as educational material. Therefore, arming the champion and preempting objections can lead to an effective decision-making process and a faster buying cycle.
  • 00:35:00 Garin Hess discusses the importance of preempting objections and concerns that might arise from internal stakeholders who may want to “kill the deal.” Preparing the champion with responses to potential concerns helps build trust between the buyer and the champion, as well as between the champion and other stakeholders. The speaker shares an example of a list of questions that sales leadership will likely ask, showing how preempting objections can speed up the buying process. The speaker then goes on to discuss Gartner’s research, which shows that only 17% of the buying group’s time is spent meeting potential suppliers, highlighting the importance of equipping the champion to engage with and sell to the rest of the buying group effectively.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, the speaker emphasizes the importance of providing content and keeping momentum during the gaps between meetings with buyers. For example, if there are 112 business days between 12 meetings during a six-month buying cycle, it’s crucial to share relevant demos, white papers, and case studies with the buyers during this time. The speaker suggests that an automated demo shared with at least one other stakeholder before the first meeting increases the likelihood of becoming a qualified opportunity. It’s essential to provide the right content that addresses the needs of different stakeholders to ensure effective buyer enablement.
  • 00:45:00 Garin Hess discusses how implementing buyer enablement can increase the likelihood of a prospect becoming a qualified opportunity. By using buyer enablement, sales teams can bridge the gaps in the sales process and help buyers move through the stages of the buying journey while addressing the needs of different stakeholders. The speaker also stresses the importance of personalization for driving purchase intent and explains how account executives and sales engineers need to personalize their engagement with different stakeholders to be effective. Finally, the speaker discusses how few B2B account executives know how to personalize the value message to different stakeholders in the buying group, according to data.
  • 00:50:00 Garin Hess discusses the importance of personalization to different stakeholders in buyer enablement. Shockingly, only 7.7% of sales professionals know how to effectively personalize to different stakeholders. Therefore, it is crucial to equip champions with the skills and tools necessary to tailor the value message to different stakeholders. The top three things that buyers say they want most from vendors are demos, case studies, and value assessment tools. As a leader and coach in buyer enablement, it is vital to anticipate and think ahead to guide and coach the team effectively. The goal of buyer enablement is to discover and engage stakeholders earlier and equip the champion to personalize the value message.
  • 00:55:00 Garin Hess recommends reading his book on buyer enablement, which contains more research and actionable steps for getting started. He provides six steps to begin with, including understanding buyers’ tasks, prioritizing tasks, personalizing content, and coaching teams to become buying coaches. She also encourages attendees to visit for more information and resources. He shares an example of a customer who reduced their buying cycle time by 29%, emphasizing the benefits of implementing buyer enablement within an organization. She concludes by thanking the audience and reminding them to participate in the DEMOFEST engagement and check out upcoming sessions.


About the Presenters

Garin Hess

CEO Consensus

Garin Hess is a serial entrepreneur with over 18 years of hands-on in-the-trenches experience. Garin has founded two software companies, two industry conferences, and a non-profit organization. He is currently the founder and CEO of Consensus.

John Cook

Director of Demand Generation Consensus

John is the Director of Communications at Consensus. For the past three years, he’s been searching out the brightest thought leaders in the Presales space, conducting original research, and generally making a nuisance of himself. He’s the author of the Sales Engineering Compensation & Workload Study.

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