Demand Gen Report just published The 2012 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, a report summarizing the results of research into the buying habits and attitudes of over 170 B2B buyers. We’re noting a few results here; you can find the whole (free!) B2B Buyer Behavior Survey on their website.
Buying habits are changing…
…and the pace is accelerating. Buyers are increasingly:
*More than 38% of the respondents said they involved between four and seven people; nearly 12% involved more than eight people in the purchase. The vast majority (76%) of respondents said C-level executives were involved in the decision.
So…the sales cycle is getting longer and more complex. But you probably already knew that.
Utility can trump budget
A solid 48% of buyers said they were involved with solution purchases that were not part of a yearly budget, but initially allocated after determination of the solution’s potential impact by looking at other adopters and building an internal business case for it.
Your takeaway: Be ready to help buyers understand your ROI so they can articulate it to the buying team.
72% said they used social in some way
54% followed groups discussions/conversation threads
24% connected individually with thought leaders
22% posted questions to social media asking how others solved a problem
14% connected directly with potential vendors
Your takeaway: Social media matters. Find the channels your best customers use, and establish your presence. Buyers will probably not make direct contact with you, but this doesn’t mean social isn’t doing its job as a research and recommendation tool.
Multi-touch still the norm
The sales cycle is longer, and buyers wait longer to have direct contact with vendors – 51% establish a preferred vendor list first, more than double the number that did so in 2011. Despite the longer research time and the wait to engage with a vendor, they still want lots of contact: 35% of respondents reported at least four contacts (via sales calls, email or other methods) with the winning vendor, and 31% said they had eight or more contacts. The top two factors in ultimately selecting a provider are the timeliness of response and the relevance of materials. The graphic below shows their relative importance on a scale of 1–7, with 7 as the high score.
Buyers are not enjoying the buying experience
Demand Gen Report found that almost 56% of buyers rated their buying experience as a 4 or 5 on a scale of 5–1 (with 1 as the high score).
“Despite all of the tools available – CRM, web analytics and marketing automation – this shows that marketing and sales teams are still struggling to keep pace with the changing expectations of buyers [who want timeliness and relevance],” said Andrew Gaffney, Publisher of Demand Gen Report.
What it means
“Buyers expect to be contacted multiple times by solution providers, but they also expect that those touches be relevant to their current information needs,” said Gaffney. “If they have already engaged with a brand and attended three of their webinars, they don’t expect (or appreciate) messaging that treats them like a new prospect. Relevance is really becoming table stakes, and the ability to guide and accelerate the buying process is critical.”
More about what B2B buyers want
There’s much more in this free paper, including:
How satisfied buyers are with vendors’ frequency of contact and quantity of content
The search channels that really matter
The buyer’s process
Types of information searched for
The pros and cons of gating content
The surprising level of acceptance for social sign-in
How buyers really feel about test drives
Types of early-stage content that buyers find useful
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