Sell to LOB Buyers or Risk Being a 'Legacy Provider'

The hidden IT buyer is your future.

Lynn Haber

February 28, 2019

4 Min Read
Know Your Customer

The hidden IT buyer is hiding in plain sight and should be on the radar of every partner business.

IDC forecasts technology spending by line-of-business (LOB) decision makers will overtake such spending by the IT department in 2019. Businesses are predicted to spend close to $1.7 trillion on technology (hardware, software, and services) this year. Roughly half of that spending will come from the IT budget while the other half will come from the budgets of technology buyers outside of IT.

These new line-of-business influencers are the new technology power brokers — researching, buying, deploying and managing IT services.


eBridge Marketing Solutions’ Hartland Ross

Need to know more about how to reach these new customers? Join Hartland Ross, founder and president of eBridge Marketing Solutions, and Lisa Masiello, chief digital strategist for the company, at the upcoming presentation, “Reaching the Hidden IT Buyer,” April 10, part of the marketing and technology conference track, sponsored by Nextiva, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Channel Futures caught up with Ross and Masiello to learn more about how partners identify, reach and add these new buyers to their bottom line.

Channel Futures: Why is it important that partners reach the line-of-business buyer?

Hartland Ross: If partners continue selling to traditional IT buyers, they’re missing another set of opportunities within an existing client company or new customer, and they are going to see their sales closing ratios impacted because they’re not taking into consideration these new IT buyers.

This is important to partners because they need to evolve. They need to be speaking to not just to the traditional IT buyer but the hidden buyers who are line-of-business executives who are making IT decision or influencing decisions.

CF: Talk about this new buyer/market.

HR: This is about understanding the marketplace and solutions that are increasingly being sold by MSPs and other vendors where the solutions are not necessarily part of the IT stack but are part of a sales stack or marketing and communication stack, or other applications – primarily SaaS applications – that the IT department wouldn’t traditionally have a lot of influence on.


eBridge Marketing Solutions’ Lisa Masiello

As vendors offer more niche applications, adoption of these solutions fuels more adoption. There’s been an enormous proliferation of these solutions, some 600,000 different solutions today — not all available to channel partners to resell but nonetheless, there’s a significant component there that partners need to address. If they don’t, they’ll be seen as legacy providers.

CF: What do partners need to know about reaching these new buyers?

HR: The first step is understanding the solutions and who the buyers are of these solutions, so you can understand who is involved in the decision making. This may be a question that the partner needs to ask the client prospect in order to understand what the decision-making process is going to be from there, and who else is involved in the decision.

If the solution is a marketing solution, the obvious question should be, “Is the CMO going to be involved?”

Lisa Masiello: Partners can work with the line-of-business influencers directly, but for companies where there is IT involvement, they can partner with …

… the CIO or the director of IT to work as a team to reach the LOB executive or influencers, providing additional services, consultations or customizations, increased securit and so on. So they’re not trying to go around or circumvent the IT department, but work in conjunction with them.

CF: Give us an idea of what takeaways attendees can expect.

HR: One takeaway is to appreciate the significance of the data we’ll share about where the market is today and where it’s going. Another is for partners to look at their processes with a new lens and to discuss with their team — are they in fact speaking to the pain points of these line-of-business executives and decision makers.

So, for example, partners need to look at their websites, the materials they leave behind, data sheets and so on, and see if the speak to these decision makers. They should also look back in their history to understand a sale that they might have lost to this group.

For some partners this will be new territory. For others, they might not have thought about it in quite this way even though they know there [are] different people involved in the line-of-business sale. They might not have put two and two together to realize that different people have different motivations and they need to change their systems to accommodate the new buyers’ pain points.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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