What Drives B2B Purchase Decisions?

Trent Warrick
Content Marketing Manager
August 12, 2016

As a B2B marketer, there’s nothing more valuable than getting insight into the mind of your buyer. Today, with extended buying cycles involving multiple stakeholders, the more you can understand about the process, the better.

Demand Gen Report recently shared some of these insights in their annual B2B Buyer’s Survey Report. The study reveals key data on these decision makers, like where they’re researching, how their purchasing process is changing, and more.

There’s plenty to explore within the report, but the underlying message for marketers is this: As a result of longer, more complex buying cycles, decision makers have less time to parse through endless content. Instead, they want information that’s personalized for their company and needs.

We’ve recapped some of the highlights below – take a look to understand how business buyers are researching purchase decisions in 2016.

How buyers select a vendor

How many times have you urged your sales team to follow up with a hot lead? You have good reason for doing so; Demand Gen Report found that B2B buyers most often choose the winning vendor based on how fast they respond to their inquiry (98%).

The reasoning behind it makes sense: With nearly 4,000 marketing technology companies, buyers don’t have time to start sales conversations with every vendor that could solve their problems, so it’s best to reply to their inquiry as quickly as possible.

It also underscores the importance of having integrated technology systems and well-aligned sales and marketing teams. For your sales reps to follow up with hot prospects as soon as they demonstrate interest, you have to first make sure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place.

The study also found that buyers favor vendors that demonstrate strong knowledge of both the solution area (97%) and their company and its specific needs (94%). In today’s buyer-centric marketplace, marketing and sales teams must provide a personalized experience for each prospect, or potential buyers will move on.

What’s important in the research process

The emphasis on personalization is also highly valued in the research process. When visiting a vendor website, buyers first and foremost are looking to locate relevant content that speaks directly to their company (69%).

After that, they’re looking for easily accessible pricing and competitive information (66%), along with vendor-focused content, like case studies and product data sheets (64%).

As B2B buying cycles get longer (nearly half of participants said their average purchase cycle increased in the past year), it’s understandable that decision makers want quick access to the most important factors driving their purchase, customized for their needs.

What’s needed to assess a solution

Within the research process, it’s unsurprising that web search (68%) ranks as the top resource for finding solution-related information, coming in ahead of vendor websites (54%). On average, B2B researchers complete 12 searches before visiting a vendor’s website — reiterating how critical it is that your content and website are search engine optimized.

Consistent with previous research, these professionals also prefer reviews from peers/colleagues (49%) over industry analysts (35%) or vendor representatives (20%). This aligns with their affinity for case studies and customer testimonials.

For marketers, this means offering trustworthy information about your product, validated by external sources. Buyers need to understand how your product can address their needs, and it’s particularly useful for them to see how you have helped businesses similar to theirs.

This study from Demand Gen Report is a useful resource for identifying the buying preferences and habits of a broad B2B audience. If you’re looking for deeper insights on specific verticals, you might be interested in our recent audience benchmarks reports on IT or marketing professionals.

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