How Search and Social Empower the B2B Tech Buyer

October 16th, 2013

A survey of 1,400 B2B buyers by the Corporate Executive Board indicated that an on average they complete 60 percent of a purchase process before engaging a vendor. Previously, a lot of research was done through talking to peers, posting on listservs and accessing vendor materials. Search and social are now fundamentally changing how buyers research products.

A December 2011 survey by the ITSMA indicated that 91% of large B2B technology buyers use social media during the purchase process and the most common source when beginning a purchase process was search. A 2012 survey by BaseOne of European B2B buyers indicated that “word of mouth” and web searches are the most useful and commonly used sources of information, and horizontal communities like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were considered less useful. However, different-aged buyers think of “word of mouth” differently. Those over 30 are much more likely to ask for opinions and recommendations in person or over the phone or email; those under 30 are actually more likely to define word of mouth as something that happens socially.

Meet Sally – A Search & Social Enabled Business Technology Buyer
Sally is BI Specialist at a healthcare provider. Seeking a Business Intelligence application, she identified nine vendors she wanted to evaluate, but discovered only a subset were covered by Gartner. Seeking the opinions of end users, she searched on Google and found TrustRadius. Over the course of 21 days she read multiple reviews and connected with several reviewers who were very receptive to talking. She was seeking a tool that didn’t require a lot of resources and hard-to-find skills. The in-depth reviews on TrustRadius coupled with the conversations helped her narrow her list to two finalists who she contacted and ultimately to select one vendor.
By the way, Sally is 50 years old.  Is she an anomaly or representative of the new breed of tech buyer?