The buying journey has changed. Control has shifted from organizations to customers, which means today's customers are taking it upon themselves to learn as much as they can about a brand and its competitors before making a purchase.

According to Forrester Research, today's buyers would have gone through up to 90 percent of their buying journey before they make the first contact with a vendor. In some product categories, buyers will only contact a sales person when they're ready for a price quote. "The sales funnel is no longer linear and the customer is completely in control of the path to purchase," explains Mark Osborn, SAP's global lead for consumer products industry marketing.