The buyers’ journey to find the perfect software match is not the same as it used to be. When options were limited and information was selectively shared, buyers were content with settling. The journey was linear and predictable. But in today’s marketplace, your potential customers have specific needs that must be met. And they will put in the work to find a vendor that meets their expectations.
In fact, business technology buyers are consulting more resources than ever before to find validation in their decision. According to our latest research on the B2B Disconnect, buyers reported using an average of 5.2 resources – up from 4.9 the year before. This is due to many factors, including:
- Highly Saturated Vendor Market
- New Generation of Buyers
- Introduction of Buyer Committees
- Strong Skepticism Towards Vendors
In the same study, buyers reported that the top sources of information they consult are product demos, user reviews, vendor/product websites, free trials or accounts, and vendor representatives. While these have continued to be the most-used resources over the past several years, the rank that each has over buyer confidence in their purchasing selection has shifted. User reviews, in particular, have jumped to the #2 most used information source.
Business technology buyers are clearly finding value in reviews, but how do they contribute to their confidence in their evaluation or decision? And based on that feeling of confidence, what does a buyer do after reading reviews?
Reviews Stimulate Confidence: 3 out of 5 Buyers Felt More Confident After Reading Reviews
Our research revealed that over 3 out of 5 (61%) B2B software buyers report feeling more confident in their research after reading reviews.
With so many software solutions available on the market, today’s buyers are searching for clarity and reassurance that they are narrowing down to a viable solution. They want to hear from people like them to uncover where your software measurably helped and the challenges others faced so they can demonstrate their due diligence. In a world where buyers have to prove the ROI of software to a committee before they purchase it, buyers use reviews to find confidence.
Why is this important? Reviews generate confidence, and confidence encourages urgency. Buyers can’t be confident in their decision to invest in your product if they are not sure that it will solve their problems. Reviews are one of the most influential sources of information because they are written by customers that have a realistic, relevant viewpoint.
What About the 11% That Were Less Confident?
7 in 10 buyers say it’s very important to understand the cons of a product before buying. Most buyers want full transparency in both capabilities and limitations. This 11% of people that were less confident about their decision likely learned something new throughout their evaluation. Reviews can challenge assumptions about a product, revealing shortcomings that may be dealbreakers. Reviews help buyers make the right decisions. The critical benefit of this to you- fewer customers facing buyer’s remorse down the road.
Reviews Were Read – What Came Next?
We know the buyer journey isn’t linear. Buyers conduct independent research, talk to sales reps, get hands-on experience through a free trial, revert to research, and attempt to nudge forward by a thorough investigation. Buyers repeat actions during multiple phases of their process for different purposes. The common denominator throughout each of their steps? Reviews. From discovery to evaluation to selection, buyers use customer insights to drive their next steps.
61% of survey respondents continue their research after reading reviews. This lines up with what we know about review usage in the buyer’s journey. According to research in the B2B Buying Disconnect report, over 60% of business technology buyers seek input from existing users of the product in the Discovery and Evaluation stages. On the front end of a software buying journey, reviews play an important part in understanding what a buyer’s experience with the product could be.
But reviews are not just for research. After reading reviews, 1 in 3 buyers were ready to to take action with a vendor. Diving even deeper, 7% of respondents were ready to make a buying decision! Reviews lead to real action. Are you paying attention to what your reviews say? And are you incorporating them into your marketing?
How Can Marketers Better Connect With Buyers?
Buyers may be proactive in their search for the perfect business software, but there are still things you should be doing to assert your credibility. What can you do to enable your sales team to convert more deals, faster, in this information-abundant landscape?
The first is to be easily accessible to buyers during the discovery and evaluation state in the places they’re looking, and have enough data and credibility to be relevant. According to our research into the buyer journey, the discovery step is a low point and where buyers need the most help to move forward. Buyers are absolutely consulting sources outside of your site, like TrustRadius, during discovery. TrustRadius gives buyers category-level information about different types of software, what their options are, and how your product works for different use cases.
When buyers have gathered sufficient information and feel ready to reach out to vendors, it’s important to foster a relationship of trust and transparency between your reps and buyers. Even though buyers are extremely skeptical of sales and marketing messages today, the most impactful thing you can do today to change this dynamic is infuse customer voice within your messaging.
Customer-centric vendors (those whose customer’s voice is central to strategy in marketing, sales, product development and across the business) were 4x more likely to say their reps were very effective than vendors who don’t feature their customers. 63% of customer-centric vendors found their reps to be very effective, while only 14% of those who do not use customers in marketing or proactively connect buyers with customers found their reps very effective. Use the content that your buyers are already desperately searching for in their own independent research to establish trust with your buyers and accelerate your sales.