The stakes are increasingly high for decision makers involved in business-to-business purchases of solutions and services. As the long-term implications of investments, implementations and integrations are evaluated and scrutinized, organizations are increasingly extending the number of stakeholders involved, taking more time to assess risks/rewards and utilizing access to peer insights before moving forward with a purchase.
According to the preliminary findings of Demand Gen Report’s 7th Annual B2B Buyer Survey, respondents cited risk aversion, the critical element of timing, and increasing reliance on peer reviews as crucial influences in the buying journey.
The 2017 survey—which polled 280 B2B C-level executives, VPs and Directors across various B2B industries—found continued increases in complexity and timelines for B2B purchases. Key finding included:
- More than two-thirds of the respondents (67%) said they now have formal buying groups or buying committees in place at their companies to review potential purchases.
- When asked how the purchase process has changed over the last year, 28% of respondents said “the number of members involved has increased significantly,” compared to only 7% of respondents in 2016.
Reflecting the larger trend, one respondent commented, “Our team has more than tripled in the past year, so we have a lot more decision-makers at the table.”
Companies Stressing Risk Aversion
One respondent commented that their company’s B2B purchase cycle has changed: “As the company grows and our goals become loftier, each purchase carries more weight, more risk and costs more.” A myriad of factors, from smaller budgets to company growth to changes in leadership have all resulted in increased pressure for buyers. Consequently, many companies have taken steps to become more risk averse.
Companies are using more resources and analyzing more data to measure ROI. Thirty-seven percent of respondents strongly agreed that they conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision, marking a 15% increase from 2016. The report also underscored that respondents use more sources, as well as spend more time researching and evaluating purchases. These factors, in addition to larger purchasing teams, can explain why 17% more respondents said the length of purchase cycle “increased significantly” compared to a year ago.
The Power Of Peer Reviews
To reassure that the vendor they are selecting can successfully deliver, more B2B buyers are turning to their peers. Respondents were asked to rate specific aspects of their purchase process changed on a scale of one-to-five (one representing “strongly agree”). The number of respondents who strongly agreed that peer recommendations played an important role rose 19% this year compared to 2016.
When asked about the importance of a series of factors that led to choosing a vendor, almost all respondents (94%) reported that reviews and references from industry peers were important—a 7% increase from 2016. Given the increased length of the purchase process and buyers’ greater emphasis on risk aversion, trusted peers and experts are not only involved in the early stages of buying process; they’re playing an increased role in the final decision-making process more than ever. In total, 62% of B2B buyers agreed that they relied more on peer recommendations when making a purchase decision.
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