B2B buyer surveys reveal most decision makers see sales as untrustworthy and unhelpful

B2B buyer
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Only 36 per cent of B2B software buyers say vendors live up to the promises they make about their products and services, according to a research study where the vast majority of firms claimed to be open about any limitations their offerings may have.

The 2018 B2B Buying Disconnect report is based on a survey of more than 650 technology decision-makers by Austin, Tex.-based TrustRadius, which operates a service where corporate users can review enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools and on-premise applications. It showed that, despite the efforts of vendors to build relationships through account-based marketing and other methods, less than a quarter, or 23 per cent of buyers said they were highly influenced by a vendor in making their final purchase decision.

“It is clear that buyers continue to want a realistic view of how a product will work for them on a day-to-day basis, and that finding information from sources not controlled by the vendor is crucial to getting a complete picture,” the report said. “While buyers rely on the vendor’s website and representatives as key sources for some product information, they don’t always trust them to be transparent and comprehensive, which limits their influence over purchase decisions.”

While TrustRadius obviously wants to use the research to reinforce the value of its own platform, the study shows what’s at stake among the CIOs, CMOs and other key decision-makers who hold the purse strings within the enterprise. Nearly a quarter, or 23 per cent, spend more than $100,000 annually on B2B software, where the average cost ranged between $11,000-$50,000 per year.

TrustRadius isn’t the only one shining a light on the challenges of B2B purchasing. Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.-based sales training firm ValueSelling Associates Inc. this week released “Sales From A Buyer’s Perspective,” which was based on a survey of 206 U.S. managers and executives. Sixty per cent of buyers said they didn’t trust the integrity of those selling to them, and only 34 per cent said key contact is helpful in the process of researching and determining what they should purchase for their organization.

Trust may be even more difficult to establish when the primary conversation takes place through technology, but 81 per cent of those surveyed by ValueSelling said they rank e-mail as their preferred contact method.

“The handshake is not dead,” the report said, noting that roughly a quarter of respondents included it among their preferences, and phone calls were second to e-mail at 63 per cent. “These results demonstrate the importance of making sure what is ‘said’ in writing or voicemail is well thought out and articulated.”

Both surveys also showed the changes in composition among buying teams. The TrustRadius research revealed more than half, or 56 per cent of B2B buyers involved two to five people, 45 per cent of whom are Millennials. According to ValueSelling Associates, meanwhile, the most influential contact within a vendor is not sales but a subject matter expert, at 68 per cent.

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Shane Schick

Shane Schick

Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. 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 was 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.