The Marketing Strategist:

8 Important Facts about Complex, High-Consideration B2B Solutions Purchases

November 14, 2014

Julie Schwartz
There is a lot of great research on the Internet about the buyer journey and how buyers consume information. But have you noticed that sometimes the research doesn’t match your experience and sometimes even conflicts? The source of the confusion can often be narrowed down to these two factors:

  • Unintentional bias. For example: “Research unequivocally shows that tech publishing websites are the number-one source of information.” However, the methodology shows that the research sample came from a list of subscribers to a tech publishing website. Duh!
  • Sample selection. In one example, the sample consists of small to medium-sized companies buying discreet products, yet the findings are extrapolated to apply to large enterprises purchasing multimillion-dollar solutions.

If you want to know how enterprise buyers in senior decision-making positions make purchase decisions for large, complex consulting and technology solutions purchases, then those are the people you have to ask. And that is exactly what ITSMA does. Every year for more than 20 years, ITSMA has been researching the purchase decisions of buyers who fit these criteria:

  • Decision makers for large contracts. Decision maker, evaluator, or influencer for technology solutions for individual contracts over $500,000
  • Senior executives. Director level or above
  • Large enterprises. Company’s annual revenue (or operating budget if public sector) US$250 million or greater (60% of the sample has revenue greater than or equal to US$1 billion)

Based on the latest round of 436 interviews in seven countries, here are the facts:

  • Buyers spend nearly as much time offline as they do online.
  • Social media, although gaining traction, is not yet mainstream.
  • Solution providers, especially their subject matter experts, are a more credible source of information than the buyer’s peers.
  • Buyers want to engage with sales reps early on in the purchase process.
  • Thought leadership is both an effective door opener and a short-list determinant.
  • Buyers are more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues.
  • Industry knowledge and knowledge of the buyer’s unique business issues top the solution provider selection criteria list.
  • Buyers favor providers with whom they have previously done business.

To learn more, join Julie Schwartz, ITSMA senior vice president, Research and Thought Leadership, when she presents the key findings from ITSMA’s latest How Buyers Consume Information study on November 18, 2014.

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