Very rarely. In virtually every case, this disconnect comes down to a misunderstanding about how the B2B buying process works today, even for products with prolonged sales cycles.
In B2B technology, it's common to talk with executives who say, "I really don't think our buyers look for products/services like ours through the web. C-level executives don't have time to Google around looking for vendors. They ask around; it's all about who you know."
In 99 percent of cases, this assumption is patently false. Here's why:
1. Yes, it's true that if a C-level executive has a vendor in mind, they might choose that vendor without going through a formal consideration process. But this is true whether you are trying to reach prospects like this online or through a traditional sales process. If you're not being considered because of a preexisting relationship, a cold call is not going to help.
2. In most cases, even if a C-level executive has a vendor in mind, they will want to compare that vendor to other options. Generally these options are found through online search. The C-level executive might choose to delegate this online search to a manager or even an assistant, but it is a key part of the process in narrowing down a consideration set nonetheless.
3. In the great majority of cases, the C-level executive DOES NOT have a vendor in mind to hire. In these cases, the executive does not typically search for a consideration set of vendors by schmoozing at golf outings or networking events. They are too busy for that. Instead, they ask their manager or assistant to do an online search to create a consideration set, based on criteria that they provide.
4. Even if the C-level executive DOES ask around among his/her network for vendor options, those options are just as likely to come from awareness built through online visibility as through actual experience working with those vendors. "I have heard good things about this company" today more commonly derives from a good online presence than through personal experience.
The idea that a traditional sales approach works better in 2018, in ANY context, is suspect, quite frankly. More likely, the executive who asserts this to be the case has not implemented a targeted, scalable digital marketing program. Putting one in place and delivering results will make them a believer.