Meet the Bullies Who Dominate B2B Purchases, According to Research

B2B purchases
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Seventy per cent of B2B buyers have to contend with a “bully” on their purchasing committee who pushes their company to choose their preferred vendor, according to a research study from DiscoverOrg.

In ‘Why Didn’t They Buy? A Deep Dive Into Buyer Preferences And The Implications For Salespeople,’ a survey of more than 230 business professionals showed that the dominant influencer — dubbed the “bully with the juice” — drives 90 per cent of all deals. Only 35 per cent of those surveyed had a favorable view of salespeople, and the majority preferred someone who listens and is friendly, even if they weren’t as knowledgable about the product versus someone more knowledgable or more charismatic.

B2B purchases

The report’s author suggested the “bullies” win out in B2B purchasing in part because of the inevitable conflicts and tension involved in making significant investments.

“(Calling them bullies) does not mean that the person is physically intimidating. It is simply a description of a person who will tenaciously fight for their cause in order to get their way. This person isn’t afraid to be politically incorrect or ruffle some feathers to ensure their personal desire is met,” the report says. “These buyers are not always the highest-ranking people involved in an evaluation, but they are usually on the winning side.”

Those in finance and technology roles represented the biggest proportion of those who said there was usually one dominant influencer in the selection process, according to the report.

The results of the study really highlight why a deep understanding of buyer personas is so critical to selling effectively, said Katie Bullar, chief growth officer at Vancouver-based DiscoverOrg, which makes sales and marketing software.

“I think it highlights the importance of training salespeople – even experienced ones – as much on buyer needs and personalities as product functionality and benefits,” she said, adding that it also underscores why high emotional intelligence (EQ) is a trait of the best salespeople.  “When you can quickly pick up on the nuanced differences in the preferences of your buyers, you’re going to close the deal more often.”

While many vendors want to position themselves as partners or trusted advisors to their clients, the DiscoverOrg report suggested many buyers aren’t interested in getting an outside perspective, though they do want a good listener. Only 30 per cent said they prefer a salesperson who challenges their thoughts, for example, though 40 per cent wanted someone who could solve their specific business problem.

Earlier this week, DiscoverOrg released enhancements to its Marketo Connector application, enabling marketing teams to improve their data cleansing, appending, and enriching capabilities. This is an example of how marketing and selling to B2B buyers will evolve, Bullar suggested.

“The sales person that excels in the new environment will likely be much more tech savvy than the traditional sales person that relies simply on a great rolodex of connections,” she said.

Given that many B2B purchases involve technology or other innovative products and services, it’s not surprising that many companies regret what they’ve spent on at one point. However the study shows that most purchasers blame themselves, not the salesperson, for buyer’s remorse.  In fact, 11 per cent attributed failures to impulse decisions or incomplete research, while 13 per cent said they either under- or over-invested in a particular product or service.

 

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.