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As marketers, it’s important to understand the journey your customers go on before they purchase your product.

But this is often easier said than done. Which members of the engineering team are involved in purchasing decisions? Which other departments have a say? What are folks looking for from potential vendors? And how does this differ across different types of companies, from nimble startups to slow enterprises?

To find out how tech teams really purchase solutions, LeadDev asked a group of engineering leaders what their company’s purchasing journey looks like. Here’s what we learned.

  1. Engineers start thinking about external solutions once they identify a need or opportunity to run at a quicker and cheaper rate. Teams will spend the most on tools that they believe to be business-critical.
  2. When marketing to small companies and startups, it’s easier to introduce tools to the engineers on the ground, who will generally be open to products that make their lives easier. Engineers don’t need permission from managers to sign up for free trials, but will submit vendors for approval if they find them valuable. Often, these folks will go for tools that they’ve used before or have had recommended to them, so word-of-mouth is an important channel.
  3. In larger (but still agile) companies, decisions to buy business-critical tools are escalated and centralized. Some companies may even decide to build these tools and systems themselves, if they have the resources, to make sure they’re perfectly tailored to their needs. When it comes to purchasing everyday productivity tools used by individual functions, engineering teams do have more influence and access to budget.
  4. Large public sector companies tend to have lengthy tender application processes. They need to be careful and transparent around how they’re spending public money, so be patient and thorough when you’re applying!
  5. When selling to traditional enterprises, things can take significantly longer. Most decisions are made top-down by those in charge of the budget, and anyone else on the team needs to jump through many hoops to secure budget for new tools. To save on costs, employees are encouraged to share product licenses, and managers will always check if there’s a similar tool licensed elsewhere in the company before approving a new contract.
  6. The larger a company, the more stakeholders that are involved. In bigger orgs, there are often additional departments to contend with including Security, Legal, and Compliance. The biggest blocker tends to be Security, as these folks need to perform rigorous checks and due diligence, which can take months. These steps do often end in rejection, so make sure you complete their processes correctly.
  7. For all companies, the most important thing vendors can do is be clear about what the product does. Folks don’t just want to hear it from your sales team, they want to know how other customers are using your solution. Sharing case studies is a great way to provide evidence that your product serves its purpose and that it’s functional for the way they want to use it.
  8. It’s also important to be clear about the terms of your partnership. Engineering teams want to know exactly who (i.e. you or them) will be responsible for fixing or maintaining different areas of your solution once they’re working with it, so be sure to provide clear, defined terms.
  9. Finally, try to reach out to the folks responsible for making the decisions. If you can, avoid having separate conversations with different layers of the ladder, as engineering teams can feel this wastes their time (and yours!) and is less personal.

It’s not always easy marketing to tech companies, as their decision-making processes will vary depending on their size and needs. But by understanding the type of organization you’re approaching and getting to grips with your audience, you can start tailoring your approach to make sure your message lands.