B2B Buyers Seem to Be Engaging Sales Reps Earlier in the Process: 3 Tips for Vendors

August 7, 2019

This article is included in these additional categories:

B2B | Content Marketing | Cross-Media & Traditional | Customer Engagement | Customer-Centric | Featured | Industries

Three-quarters of B2B buyers say they are spending more time over the past year researching purchases, according to Demand Gen Report’s 2019 B2B Buyers Survey Report [download page]. While this number is up slightly from last year (72%), other results from the survey also indicate that more buyers are engaging with vendors early on in their buying process.

The survey asked more than 250 B2B marketing executives to estimate their timeline for taking a variety of steps in the buying process. Here are three tips to keep in mind for vendors based on the responses of the buyers surveyed.

Early Engagement With Sales Pays Off

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents report that they spoke to and engaged with a sales representative from the vendor they selected within the first 3 months of their buying process. Other recent research reinforces the fact that buyers are open to engaging vendors early on, with Aberdeen reporting that almost half (48%) of buyers say they are most open to challenges to their thinking at the beginning stages of their research. Additionally, Path Factory and Heinz Marketing report that the same percentage (48%) of buyers say they begin their buying process with a discovery call.

Buyers are also developing informal lists of potential vendors early on, with the report indicating that 7 in 10 (71%) have created such a list within the first 3 months of the buying process and about one-third (34%) doing so within the first month.

With the price of a solution being an important variable (considered by 76% of stakeholders when evaluating a service/product), it’s not surprising that close to 4 in 5 (78%) respondents report having collected preliminary information on pricing/costs within the first 3 months. This is an area that vendors have hesitated to cover in the past on their websites.

Price is not the only factor buyers consider. In fact, the majority (82%) of B2B buyers also take features and functionality into account, while more than three-quarters (77%) of respondents say that deployment time is also very important to them when evaluating a select list of vendors.

Knowledge A Key Ingredient For Vendors That Win

Being able to demonstrate knowledge of their buyers and their needs is one thing that sets winning vendors apart from the others. Nearly all (97%) of respondents say that it’s important that sales reps can demonstrate a stronger knowledge of their needs, with two-thirds (66%) saying it is very important. Another 95% of respondents also say that they think it is important for sales teams to have more insights about their company and needs.

Part of demonstrating knowledge of the buyer and their needs is being able to provide them with relevant content. Following suit, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs research found that 9 in 10 of the most successful content marketers are prioritizing their buyer’s informational needs over their own sales or promotional messages.

High-Quality, Relevant Content Matters

Along those lines, almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents cite easy-to-consume informational content as a notable differentiator for winning vendors, while 6 in 10 (61%) note that winning vendors also provide high-quality content.

The significance of content in the buying process is reflected in other research, with a LinkedIn study finding that 94% of decision-makers are more likely to consider a vendor if the sales rep shares content that is relevant to their role.

Transparency can also be an influencing factor with many buyers saying that vendors being more transparent about their product’s capabilities and limitations could make the buying process easier and faster.

To read more, download the report here.

About the Data: The 2019 B2B Buyers Survey includes responses from more than 250 B2B marketing, sales and IT executives between May and June of 2019.

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