SiriusDecisions conducts a global buying study every two years to understand buying preferences across different regions, industries and buyer personas. Our 2017 survey included 868 buyers across the globe from 15 different industries and organizations of all sizes. Below are some key takeaways and highlights about how behaviors have changed since the 2015 survey:
- Upselling to executives might be good for your business. Individuals acting as the decisionmakers in the buying process are the most fully engaged throughout the process. C-suite executives and business unit heads are most often decisionmakers in purchase decisions. As a result, they are the most involved from beginning to end. Internal influencers, users and ratifiers are fully involved about half the time during the decision process. See the Buyer Insights Series to find the list of reports for C-suite personas and see if you should be targeting someone in the C-suite.
- Your install base is your biggest strength. The buying studies in 2015 and 2017 showed that the most important decision driver for all personas and across all buying scenarios is previous experience with a company. It beat out customer references, brand perception, the promise of the offering to meet buyer needs, price, implementation, customer service and relationship with the salesperson. Providers want to put more emphasis on existing customers if they want to keep cross-selling and upselling.
- Content assets remain constant in terms of impact. They shifted slightly in order, the top four content assets for buyers remained the same as in 2015: analyst reports, sales presentations, case studies and articles. Analyst reports beat out sales presentations as the top content asset, reflecting a broader trend in favor of third-party interactions. Unsurprisingly, online content assets have become more popular, as interactive brochures, webinar replays, Web pages, blog posts, eBooks have increased in impact while white papers and static brochures have decreased.
- Social media interactions have increased in importance but still don’t have significant impact. There has been a slight uptick in the number of non-human interactions from 2015 to 2017. Free trials, Web site perusal and internet searches still dominate non-human interactions – but more sophisticated online interactions such as virtual tours, events and online demos have also increased in importance. Social media interactions (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter) – where it’s quick and easy to find real-time information about news and events, or see how applications work – all have less importance, but more buyers are looking here than they were in 2015.
- Interactions with people are as important as ever. Although many readers might think there’s been a decrease in human interactions, but the number of interactions with other people has stayed the same since 2015 in most scenarios and increased in independent buying scenarios (see the brief “The SiriusDecisions Buying Spectrum”). Live vendor-hosted webinars remain in the top spot as most impactful to buyers – even more than in 2015. Peer networking, conferences, online forums and customer references have all increased in value, reflecting a slight shift to fewer vendor-driven interactions and more third-party input.
- Sales representatives still matter. Although many believe that buyers spend more than half the buying cycle getting information from other sources before interacting directly with vendors, the results of the 2017 study say otherwise. In the first educational phase of the buying process, where people spend one-third of their time, we found that more than 60 percent of buyers received information from the sales representative of the winning provider. That means that the vendors who are winning bids are proactively meeting with prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle and not waiting until potential buyers are halfway through it (see the blog post “B2B Sales Reps Still Matter”).
- Meeting with product experts is highly valued. More than half of the respondents in our survey found very positive impact from meeting with sales representatives and product experts. Solution specialists, technical marketing and product management were highly valued during the early stages of the buying cycle while executives were highly valued in the latter stages. Providers should be sure they’re providing prospects with enough face time with their experts.
More findings, insights and data about buyers – e.g. executive, technical, horizontal functions, vertical industries – are available in the Buyer Insights Series, an exclusive offering of SiriusDecisions’ Portfolio Marketing service. These detailed results of persona behaviors can help you formulate your content and campaign tactics to achieve better usage and response rates. If you’re a Portfolio Marketing client, log on to the client portal to download the full reports along with a complete data set of findings for each persona.