(The following is a post I published about two years ago. Since then, the number of people in the average B2B buying group has increased, and buying cycles are getting longer. New research by the Aberdeen Group explains why long buying cycles are still a fact of life for B2B marketing and sales professionals.)
The Original Post
New research reveals what influences B2B buying decisions and explains why the B2B buying process is getting longer.
Earlier this month, Demand Gen Report published the findings of the 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey. The 2017 research was based on a survey of 283 C-level executives, VPs, and Directors across several B2B industries. Each respondent in this study was qualified to have been involved in a B2B purchase decision within the 12 months preceding the survey.
The 2017 survey findings reveal that B2B buyers’ journeys are becoming longer and more complex. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said that the length of their purchase cycle had increased compared to a year earlier, while only 10% said that the length had decreased.
Other findings explain why the buying cycle has gotten longer.
- 52% of respondents said the number of buying group members had increased significantly.
- 77% agreed that they conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a purchase decision.
- 78% agreed that they “spend more time researching purchases.”
- 75% agreed that they “use more sources to research and evaluate purchases.”
Recent research by the Aberdeen Group (conducted in collaboration with PJA Advertising & Marketing) shows that business buyers are still struggling with buying decisions, and it provides several insights regarding how B2B marketing and sales professionals can help buyers navigate the process. This study was a survey of more than 340 B2B buyers. Sixty-six percent of the survey respondents were VP level or above, and 75% reported being “the decision maker” in B2B purchases.
Fifty-three percent of the respondents in the Aberdeen survey said they halt the purchase process or postpone the buying decision on at least half of their purchases. And it’s easy to understand why. For one thing, many buyers simply don’t know what they need. Fifty percent of the respondents said their needs are either partially, not well, or poorly defined when they are involved in a purchase.
Beyond poorly-defined needs, the two most common reasons for cancelling or postponing a purchase were:
- Buyers saw no differentiation between the prospective solutions (66% of respondents)
- Buyers decided that no vendor/solution met their needs (57%)
More importantly, 38% of the respondents said they are more willing to talk with vendors earlier than usual in the consideration process if the vendor can “provide me with objective information and help me frame my decision.”
David – this article provides some great insights. In my view making purchasers feel “safe” is vitally important and something that many vendors miss. I think some of the stats in your article illustrate that. We constantly strive to create proposals that speak to the purchaser’s world view and demonstrate that we get it. Also, and this might not always work in our favour, we make the proposal document itself educational in nature, perhaps challenging the purchaser’s beliefs around what they need.
Thanks for your comment, Dave! I think it’s a great idea to include education content in a proposal whenever that’s possible.