Frustrated IT procurers say ‘stop calling us’

Procurement professionals are so frustrated with the IT market that a third see IT resellers as a barrier and nearly half (45%) would like to cut them out of the process altogether, research has found.

The study by technology provider Probrand surveyed IT buyers and suppliers to understand the current frustrations hindering both sides of the buying and selling experience in light of a changing market.

Interruptive sales calls emerged as one of the biggest bug-bears. Over 60% of IT buyers said they receive between 9 – 40 unsolicited and unhelpful IT supplier calls a day.

On average 90% of those calls last 1 – 5 mins, so IT buyers are burning up to 3 hours a day fielding unwanted calls. Time that most said was better spent elsewhere.

More than half of B2B buyers (53%) now like to research and purchase IT products online, speaking to sales only when they need help. Just one third (36%) of the survey participants said they preferred to buy through a sales representative.

The constant changes in IT product price and stock were also highlighted as another major pain, consuming an average of one hour per day of an IT buyers time looking for the best price. Some 48% of buyers claimed this was their biggest perceived barrier to getting what they want at the right price, fast.

Yet, two thirds (65%) of buyers said they were aware there are up to 30,000 price changes a day. Most admitted they had no structured way of coping with these changes.

Indeed 87% are confident they never overpay for IT products, but other industry research carried out by IT benchmarking tool KnowledgeBus has found average profit margins paid on IT are 18% where the Society of IT Managers states 3% is fair and equitable.

Interestingly, 73% are aware sector discounts are available, however, these deals, which IT buyers are entitled to, aren’t getting through; half (50%) of IT distributors and vendors – who sell to IT buyers through IT resellers – said a lack of transparency meant deals often aren’t passed on and this is their number one frustration.

However, buyers didn’t say they wanted to abandon Value Added Resellers (VAR) altogether. Almost three quarters (73%) said they prefer to talk to a salesperson when buying an IT service, which can often be a more complex purchasing decision compared to an IT product. Just 19% said they would choose to buy an IT service online.

“IT buyers have spoken, the way IT products are sold is at odds with buyer expectations,’’ said Ian Nethercot MCIPS Supply Chain Director at Probrand. ‘‘The complexity of the three-tiered IT supply chain, volatility of price and stock as well as manual ways of working, conspire against buyers. As a result it is costing them time and money.

“Our research shows that B2B buyers now want to buy IT on their own terms. They want the option to research and buy online without interference from an IT supplier, valuing technical and specialist help offline only when it suits them.

“As consumers, we have all become used to the self-service age where we expect utility and value online, and the rise of marketplaces like eBay, Airbnb and Alibaba are surely shaping B2B buyer behaviour.

“It is clear the B2B IT market will have to evolve to meet those expectations.”