Although COVID-19 has caused close to half (47%) of B2B buyers to delay purchases due to freezes in their budgets, another 3 in 10 say they have escalated some purchases due to changing business needs. And, with more than three-quarters (77%) of buyers spending more time researching their purchase than they did last year, what does this mean for B2B vendors? Here’s what a recent study [download page] from Demand Gen Report found.
A majority (68%) of B2B buyers surveyed say that their purchase cycle has grown longer compared to a year ago. The most common timeline is between 1-6 months for the full buying journey, per the report’s respondents.
Where Do Vendor Websites Fit In?
Along with spending more time researching purchases, buyers are also using more sources to do that research and evaluation (73%). While more than half (53%) of buyers cite web search as one of the first 3 resources they used to inform them about a solution they were researching for purchase, two-fifths (41%) also turned to vendor websites. Indeed, earlier research shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B buyers were finding vendor websites a useful source throughout all stages of the buying journey.
That same research found that a little more than half of B2B buyers were more likely to buy from a vendor after reading its content. This is also reflected in Demand Gen Report’s study. A full 70% of buyers say that relevant content that speaks directly to their company is a very important aspect of visiting a potential vendor’s website.
And, as B2B buyers have dramatically increased their consumption of digital content like executive summaries, landing pages and brochures, a majority (54%) also put a high degree of importance on websites with thought leadership content such as white papers and research.
Although there are pros and cons of gating content on a website, it’s clear that buyers prefer to be able to access content more readily – 6 in 10 (59%) say it’s very important to have easy access to content without having to fill a long registration form.
Another aspect of a vendor’s website that is very important to potential buyers is that the website speaks directly to their industry needs (57%). This goes hand-in-hand with the expectation of 76% of respondents that they receive more personalized attention from solution providers based on their specific needs.
Reasons For Selecting a Winning Vendor
Of the 5 most important variables used to evaluate a list of solution providers, features/functionality (73%) and pricing (72%) were at the top of the list. However, when it came to selecting the winning vendor, the top reason for 7 in 10 (69%) buyers was that the vendor demonstrated knowledge of the solution and business landscape, while 65% shared that the vendor showed a strong knowledge of the buyer’s company and its needs.
Content was also important, with buyers selecting vendors that provided content that made it easier to build a better business case (62%), was of higher-quality (55%) and was a better mix helping them through each stage of their decision-making process (52%).
Sales reps also deserve some kudos – some 65% of buyers say that the sales rep of the selected vendor met all the needs of members of the buying team and addressed their concerns with targeted messaging and content.
The full report can be downloaded here.
About the Data: Findings are based on a survey of 212 B2B marketing, sales and IT executives, the largest share (31%) of which work in the High Tech industry. The survey was conducted between May and June 2020.