Buying is Broken — Here’s What We Can Do

Guest: Brent Adamson Distinguished Vice President, Gartner

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Buying is Broken — Here’s What We Can Do

Nothing like a live audience to keep you on your toes! Third-time guest Brent Adamson, Distinguished Vice President, Gartner, joins Drew for a live conversation in front of an elite collection of B2B CMOs to chat about smarketing—and no, that’s not a typo. Brent dives into why sales and marketing—“smarketing”— must work together and fully align to connect with customers.

Beyond that, Brent explains why buying is broken, the pitfalls of working with a large buyer committee, and why companies need to make customers reevaluate themselves rather than products. Don’t miss that and more on this week’s Renegade Thinkers Unite!

You’ll enjoy this episode, so be sure to listen!

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What You’ll Learn

Smarketing: sales and marketing collaboration

Marketing has long been coupled with the digital while sales has been dominantly in person. In this mindset, marketing is early on in the process of working with a customer while sales is later. However, Brent suggests that this linear view on sales and marketing does not have to be, and in fact, may not even be the best. He introduces the term – smarketing: the combination of sales and marketing. He suggests a workaround on the functional divide of sales and marketing. When looking at how buying happens, you are looking for information needed by the client, so the solution is to put this information together for clients and deliver them through multiple channels with sales and marketing supporting this.

Why buying is broken, and how to put B2B sales back together!

For B2B sales, there used to be approximately 5.4 people involved in the buying process. Over the past number of years, this number of people involved has jumped up to 9-10. The more people involved, the more difficult buying has become. There are more opinions and prerogatives, so this slows the process of B2B sales down. Brent shares that in studies done, it is not optimal to personalized message for each of these 10 stakeholders. Instead, to market to all of these buying persons, you must find a common denominator. Creating content around this common ground can help buyers reach a decision. Be sure to listen to hear Brent share an example of this!

Commercial insight tools

Brent further explains 3 commercial insight tools that can be used to help motivate buyers:

  1. Connector: A connector is a set of information or tools to identify who needs to be involved
  2. Advisor: An advisor is a buying guide or a set of steps to be followed
  3. Diagnostic: A diagnostic is a framework that is created for a segment of customers that allows them to diagnose their performance to help identify where they are on a continuum of performance (where they are and where they want to be!)


  • [2:13] What is new with Brent Adamson
  • [3:34] Prepping for a recession as a CFO or CMO
  • [8:16] Smarketing! Sales and marketing working together
  • [12:04] Buying is broken – why and how to help as a marketer
  • [22:55] A good example of commercial insight
  • [28:00] Audience questions: Connie O’Brien and Denise Broady
  • [40:56] Commercial insight tools: connector, advisor, and diagnostic

Connect With Brent Adamson:

  • Brent Adamson’s Bio on Gartner’s Conference Website
  • Connect with Brent Adamson on LinkedIn
  • Follow Brent Adamson on Twitter

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Brent Adamson, co-author of  The Challenger Sale, is Principal Executive Advisor for the Sales and Marketing Practice at Gartner (formerly CEB). In that role, he serves as their chief story teller, having worked on numerous sales and marketing studies broadly spanning everything from customer loyalty to sales rep performance to organizational productivity. Brent is a frequent contributor on sales topics on Harvard Business Review’s blog and CEB’s blogs as well as being published in Bloomberg Businessweek and Selling Power. He is a sought-after speaker and facilitator, with more than 20 years of experience as a professional researcher, teacher and trainer. 

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