The majority of B2B buying committees are now made up of Millennials, and 49 per cent of buyers never actually talk to a vendor’s sales rep, according to a research report from TrustRadius released this week.
In its 2020 version of its B2B Buyer Disconnect study, which is based on a survey of more than 1,500 respondents in various professional roles. TrustRadius, which collects user reviews and ratings of business hardware and software products, has been producing the report for the past four years.
The survey results suggested that while vendors tend to focus on the most beneficial aspects of their products and services, skeptical buyers are looking for what can go wrong. The average buyer, for example, uses more than five pieces of content before making a decision, and perhaps because they have less work experience, Millennials consult even more than their older peers, according to the study.
TrustRadius fielded survey questions to vendors as well as buyers, and used this to point out where there was a lack of alignment. “Only 33 per cent of vendors say they think it is very important for buyers to understand the cons before buying,” the authors noted, compared with 77 per cent of buyers. “This gap is increasing year over year.”
Not surprisingly, the research highlighted the importance of reviews as a piece of content that drives positive decision-making. However a ranking or score may be less important than qualitative feedback, which 39 per cent of buyers said this was key to their evaluations. If a vendor’s product had some cons, for example, a review might help others understand whether the overall experience or value of the product is still worth it.
Some of the more fascinating details in the study concern the way B2B buying committees work, where just over a quarter, or 26 per cent, said purchases are still driven by a single decision-maker. In contrast, only one per cent of respondents use what TrustRadius described as a “bracket-style” decision process, where each member of the buying group independently considered the options, and then sequentially eliminated products that wouldn’t work for their requirements. There is also the “divide and conquer” style where each committee member digs up specific details, and manager-led processes where the end user plays a stronger role.
“Committees that made consensus decisions or used a manager-led strategy reported being more satisfied with the products they bought, on average, than committees that had a single decision-maker, collaborative recommendation, divide and conquer, or bracket-style dynamic,” the report said. “The worst decisions were made by a single decision-maker, collaborative recommendation, or divide and conquer strategy. These were the only three committee types that had strong detractors, buyers who felt they’d made a huge mistake with the product they bought.”
Vendors are largely in the dark on these processes, the report added, recommending that buying committees improve their results buy using collaboration tools to better share information and manage the path to purchase.