Research by Demand Gen Shows Enterprise Tech Buying Committees Engaging And Rewarding Agility And Relevance Of Potential Solution Providers.
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees complex purchasing decisions are engaging earlier with sales and conducting many of the key steps in customer purchase process to support a more agile approach to selecting new solutions.
- 83% senior-level B2B executives often accelerate or put purchase decisions on hold based changing business needs and/or priorities
- B2B buying cycles are still lengthy and involve several stakeholders, the increasing focus on agility in the process underscores the reality that buying journeys are not a linear, predictable funnel
Highlights of B2B Buyer Needs in Complex Purchasing Decisions, Priorities and Expectations:
- How buyer expectations for quicker engagement impact the sales funnel
- The importance of first-contact channels
- How a stronger necessity for ROI analysis requires vendors to have a steady stream of reliable resources to fuel buying decisions
- How knowledgeable sales reps are helping further educate and accelerate purchase decisions
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – Vendor Flexibility & Agility
Vendors need to be flexible and adaptable to meet the constantly shifting needs and expectations of their potential customers. The key differentiator that’s working with B2B buyers is the ability for sales reps to educate and accelerate purchase decisions. As a result, buyers are relying on more resources. Specifically, buyers are:
- Conducting ROI analysis at increasing rates – 74% said they conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision, up from 70% in 2018
- Vendor websites are seen as an invaluable first-contact channel for buyers as they research purchase decisions are typically the vendor website, content and advertising
- 83% agree they often accelerate or put purchase decisions on hold based changing business needs and/or priorities
- B2B buying cycles are still lengthy and involve several stakeholders, but the increasing focus on agility in the process underscores the reality that buying journeys are not a linear, predictable funnel.
How buyer expectations for quicker engagement impact the sales funnel:
- First-contact channels, such as websites and advertising, in the B2B purchase cycle need to be well orchestrated and consistently applied by both sales and marketing
- The requirement for proven ROI analysis requires vendors to have a steady stream of reliable and successful customers to be leveraged in closing new business
- Sales reps are helping further educate and accelerate purchase decisions by providing insights on the industry, technology, competitors and specific workflows
The research also showed that buyers are accelerating the time to engage with sales reps so they can make decisions as quickly — or as slowly — as desired. Specifically:
- 42% said that they spoke to and engaged with reps from the vendor in the first month, compared to 33% in 2018
- 33% accepted outreach from vendors for calls and demos in the first month, compared to 23% in 2018
- 25% sought RFP, competitive bids and/or pricing information from vendors in the first month, compared to 20% in 2018
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – The Role of Content
The study found buyers are engaging with sales teams earlier int he customer buying process and they are also developing a growing reliance on peers, current users and review websites. And that:
- Close to two thirds (61%) said they agree that they rely more on peer recommendations and review sites
- 35% said they sought input from peers and existing customers within the first month
- 37% said they sought input from peers between one and three months.
With many hands involved in the purchase decision earlier in the customer journey, the value of detailed content and resources continues to rise:
- The majority (73%) of respondents agree that they are relying on more sources to research and evaluate purchases.
- This is particularly important to content obtained via company websites and advertising, as these are two of the first channels in which buyers often engage with brands.
The research found that:
- More than two-thirds (68%) said they notice ads from the solution provider they chose during the research process
- Of those who noticed the winning vendors’ ads – 37% of them said those ads positively impacted their view of the company
- Having the right content and resources is helping sales reps have deeper conversations earlier in the purchase journey
- Almost all (97%) of respondents said that sales reps who demonstrated a stronger knowledge of their needs was important to them
35% of buyers sought input from peers and existing users within the first month of the purchase process
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – Time To Engagement Moving Up In The Buying Cycle
While the overall sales cycle in B2B continues to stretch in many cases, the research showed B2B buyers are continuing to make key decisions earlier in the buying process:
- 42% of respondents spoke to and engaged with reps from the selected vendor in under a month, compared to 33% in 2018
- Another 30% said they spoke to sales reps within one to three months
- 70% of buyers accepted a call or demo from a vendor within the first three months
- Another 70% evaluated which solutions would fit well with existing partners in the first three months
- 35% sought input from peers and existing users within the first month of the purchase process
- 25% sought RFP/competitive bids and pricing info from a select list of vendors in under one month, compared to 19% in 2018
- 32% brought team members into the research process in the first month, compared to 25% in 2018
68% of respondents said they notice ads from the solution provider they chose during the research process
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – Online Presence – Advertising, Websites Continue To Play Key Role In Helping Engage & Educate Buyers
With B2B buyers moving at their desired pace through the sales funnel, first points of contact have become critical to ensuring deals don’t hit any roadblocks.
This year’s survey data shows that buyers are continuing to stress the importance of website experience and the influence of display advertising in their decision making process:
- More than two-thirds (68%) said they notice ads from the solution provider they chose during the research process–of them, 37% said those ads positively impacted their view of the company
- A little more than a quarter (27%) said their selected vendor’s ads did not change their perception, signaling that there is still room for refinement in how B2B companies target, message and engage prospective customers via display advertising.
Vendor websites have also been an invaluable source for buyers as they research purchase decisions. Websites continue to be one of the top resources that informed buyers about a solution year over year. Close to half (48%) said it was one of their first three resources utilized.
When asked specifically about vendor website expectations:
- 97% said that it was important to them that vendor websites have relevant content that spoke directly to their company — 68% considered this very important
- 96% said that it was important to them that the vendor websites spoke directly to the needs of their industry and demonstrated expertise in their area — 61% considered this very important
- 97% said that it was important to them that vendor websites offered easy access to content (i.e. no gates or minimal gates) — 56% considered this very important
This data indicates that B2B companies must ensure that the content, messaging and accessibility of information on their website is continuously on point, or buyers will not waste time looking for deeper engagement with that brand.
Three-quarters (75%) of buyers said they are spending more time researching purchases, which is up from 72% in 2018
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – ROI Matters
Deeper analysis shows that the requirement to prove ROI continues to grow within B2B buying committees. Close to three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision, which is up from 70% in 2018.
Due to the growing demand for detailed ROI analysis, buyers are relying on more resources to educate themselves on how vendors’ solutions and services can positively impact their ability to meet business goals:
- The data shows that the majority (73%) agree they are relying on more sources to research and evaluate purchases
- Three-quarters (75%) also said they are spending more time researching purchases, which is up from 72% in 2018
- Ultimately, 79% of respondents said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision
When it comes to the content sources buyers turn to when researching purchase decisions and doing their ROI analysis, web search and vendor websites continue to be the top two sources.
More than half (57%) said that Web search was one of their top sources, while 48% said it was the vendor’s website.However, there was a notable mix of resources buyers were using to learn more about vendors and their offerings. This includes:
- Peers and colleagues (33%)
- Prior experience with the vendor (32%)
- Industry experts, analysts and influencers (28%)
- Review websites (27%)
At the point of the purchase decision when buyers are evaluating a select list of vendors, key variables that were important to stakeholders revolved ultimately around solving pain points and easy deployment of the solution.
- Eighty-two percent said the features/functionality of the solution were very important
- 77% said deployment time was very important
- Close to three-quarters (72%) said the ability to solve a pain point was very important
- Pricing (76%), as always, also plays a very important factor
- Reviews (63%)
- Vendor knowledge of the industry (65%)
- The sales team’s ability to demonstrate knowledge of the buyer’s company (56%)
Interestingly, there was an almost-even split amongst respondents on the importance of a vendor’s connections to the buyer’s C-suite. Exactly 33% said this was very important, while 35% said it was somewhat important and 32% said it had no impact.
95% said it was important that sales teams had more insights about their company and needs
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – Sales Rep’s Knowledge – Understanding Of Buyer
The survey data shows that the sales rep continues to have a significant impact on the purchase decision throughout the entire customer journey. When asked what the key differentiators were for the winning vendors, the majority (97%) said it was important that the sales rep could demonstrate a stronger knowledge of their needs — 66% considered this very important.
Also, 95% said it was important that the vendor’s sales team had more insights about their company and needs, with 55% considering this very important to their decision.
Other notable differentiators that are very important to B2B buyers include:
- Demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and the business landscape (65%)
- Provided informational content that was easy to consume (63%)
- Timeliness of a vendor’s response to inquiries (63%)
- Provided higher-quality content (61%)
Ultimately, the survey shows that many buyers consider the sales reps they engage with educated about their company and that they are communicating relevant information to them. The majority (92%) agreed with the above statement, while only 8% disagreed. More than three-quarters (79%) said this influenced their purchase decision.
Respondents also noted that reviews and reports from industry analysts are having a growing impact on purchase decisions. Roughly 92% said that analyst reports and reviews influence their decisions, which is up from 82% in 2018. Of that group, 48% considered these reports very important.
When asked to share an open-ended response on what vendors could have done better, the survey shows that the majority expect vendors to provide clear, concise communication with buyers and have a complete understanding of their needs and pain points.
More than half (56%) of companies have four or more people involved in a purchase decision, while 21% have seven or more stakeholders
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – The Size of the Purchase Committee
Buying Committees Continue To Grow As Stakeholders Claim Roles In Purchase Decision
This year’s research shows that the buying committees continue to grow year over year:
- More than half (56%) have four or more people involved in a purchase decision
- 21% have seven or more stakeholders
- Companies with one to three people in a purchase decision dropped slightly from 47% in 2018 to 44% in 2019
We also asked respondents to share what specific actions they took part in during the purchase decision. Diving deeper into the data, we see that Primary Decision Makers have a major hand in all aspects of the purchase decision, with a total average of 55% of decision makers participating in each part of the buying journey.
Specifically, Primary Decision Makers had the biggest hand in communication with:
- Outside sales reps (74%)
- Engaging in calls/demos (58%)
- Seeking RFP/competitive bids/pricing info from selected vendors
Technical Buying Influencers have a smaller stake in the end-to-end sales cycle, with an average of 31% of Technical Buying Influencers being involved throughout the entire buying journey.
Most of their time spent in the purchase decision was involved in:
- Evaluating which solutions would fit well with existing partners (39%)
- Speaking with the sales rep at the selected vendor (36%)
- Accepting outreach from vendors and engaging in calls and demos (35%)
Internal Influencers or Champions had a heavier hand in earlier parts of a purchase decision:
- Such as speaking to and engaging with sales reps (37%)
- Developing informal lists of potential providers (33%)
- Seeking input from peers/existing users in the community (33%)
70% of B2B buyers engage with a sales rep within the first month
Enterprise Tech Buying Committees – Final Takeaway
This year’s B2B Buyers Survey shows that sellers need to be flexible and adaptable to meet the constantly shifting needs and expectations of their potential customers. With the majority (83%) agreeing that they often accelerate or put purchase decisions on hold based their business’ changing needs and priorities, vendors have to ensure they are positioned to help accelerate that decision as much as possible.
In particular, more resources earlier on in the buying journey are of the most importance. The majority (73%) of respondents agree that they are relying on more sources to research and evaluate purchases. This is particularly important to content obtained via company websites and advertising, which have become staple sources of information for buying committees.
Ultimately, it is clear that sales reps have become a vital source for B2B buyers in the early days of a purchase decision. With the majority (70%) saying they speak to reps within the first three months, and 42% saying they engage reps in under a month, B2B companies must ensure they are positioning sales reps to provide the information buyers need to continue their path to purchase.