What is a Shortlist Anymore?

Gartner 12 Feb 2019 12:21

by Hank Barnes  |  February 12, 2019  |  Submit a Comment

As Gartner continues to explore the world of B2B buying, we’ve noticed a phenomenom that is perplexing, compelling, and informative.

For years, people have talked about shortlists. “We’ve built our shortlist of vendors to consider.” “We’re on the shortlist.”   In short (apologies), the shortlist was a signal that buyers were closing in on a decision.

Well, that concept, at least in its simple, traditional form is gone.   In most cases, while the shortlist may exist; it isn’t what it used to be.

Late in 2017, in a survey of people involved in significant B2B technology purchases, we asked if, after creating a shortlist, they ever added vendors to it.  The responses were surprising:


Only 10% of the respondents did not change their shortlist after it was created.  48% added vendors most of the time or every time.

Here is what we think is happening.   The short-list is really more like a river.

Photo by Sindre Strøm from Pexels

Photo by Sindre Strøm from Pexels

  • Buying teams start their exploration with a few vendors in mind (they may not call this a short-list, but in some ways it is);

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