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Persuading Buyers to Choose You, Results from the ITSMA How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014

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B2B solution buyers have raised the bar. They are more proactive, connected, empowered, and hungry to learn. Their expectations are getting higher. They have more choices. They have access to information anytime and anywhere, but at the same time, they are harder to reach.

ITSMA’s 2014 How Buyers Consume Information research confirms the growing importance of online and social media channels, but calls into question broad assertions of the declining importance of sales and other interactions with solution providers. Our research shows that B2B solution buyers still base their decisions mainly on insights, expertise, and direct interaction.

Thought leadership, access to subject matter experts (primarily from solution providers), and contact with sales people—throughout the buying process—comprise the most critical inputs for buyers. They value personalization, both online and offline, as a means of accessing information tailored to their interests and needs.

In this context, the role of marketing is increasingly that of facilitating access to information and experts to help educate and inform buyers, working closely with SMEs and sales to do so.

Read this report to find out how Marketing can:
•Create the right balance in the marketing mix to reach both B2B Social and Traditional buyers
•Create the right balance in the marketing mix to reach business, finance, and IT executives
•Facilitate access to subject matter experts and their knowledge
•Help sales become subject matter experts in their own right

ITSMA conducted the 2014 version of its acclaimed How Customers Choose research with 436 buyers of large, complex IT solutions across seven countries. Specifically, the study answers questions such as:
•What are the most important criteria used to select solution providers?
•What types of content are buyers most likely to consider useful?
•How are buyers using social media during the purchase process?
•When creating a short list of providers, what sources of information do they use?
•What are buyers’ preferences for maintaining relationships post purchase?

Published in: Marketing
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Persuading Buyers to Choose You, Results from the ITSMA How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014

  1. 1. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 1 Persuading Buyers to Choose You Results from the ITSMA How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014 Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership, ITSMA Anna Whiting, Senior Research Manager, ITSMA Abbreviated Summary | December 2014
  2. 2. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 2 Abbreviated Summary Buyers are more connected, empowered, and hungry to learn. They have more choices and access to information anytime and anywhere. As a result, marketing and selling have become more challenging. It helps to know exactly what buyers are looking for during the purchase process. What they really want to know is whether they can trust you. You build trust through relationships. And to build relationships, you need: engagement, insights, a personalized approach, and underlying all three, human contact. Note: This abbreviated summary highlights some of the significant findings from How Buyers Consume Information: Persuading Buyers to Choose You, results from the ITSMA 2014 survey. A more in-depth analysis can be found in the full report. According to ITSMA’s “How Buyers Consume Information Survey,” your buyers require four things: Insights Human Contact Personalized Approach Engagement
  3. 3. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 3 #1: Human Contact Buyers want insight—and they prefer to get their insight from people, not screens. Here is why human contact is critical: l Buyers spend nearly as much time offline as online, especially with people, when keeping up with industry and technology trends l Buyers rely on sales at all stages of the buying process, even the early stages l Technology solution provider SMEs are the most credible source of information l Finally, social media, while gaining traction is not yet mainstream It’s still all about the human contact. Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014 Solution providers, especially their SMEs, are the most credible source of information during the purchase process 39 31 31 26 26 25 24 21 18 18 15 14 13 1 Solution provider subject matter experts Solution provider websites Industry analysts/sourcing advisors Solution provider sales people Peers/colleagues Management consultants Web search Industry events/trade shows General business or industry/trade media Industry/professional online communities Local or national professional trade associations Social media/networks Digital influencers/industry experts Other % Rank 1st % Rank 2nd % Rank 3rd Which of the following sources of information in your most recent purchase experience were most trustworthy or credible? (Rank order 1st, 2nd, 3rd) % of Respondents (N=436)
  4. 4. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 4 26 24 53 51 18 20 3 4 1 #2: Relevant Insights Thought leadership is crucial to solution provider awareness, interest, and consideration. l The depth and quality of thought leadership is one of the key criteria that determine which providers buyers want to learn more about and which providers ultimately make it on their short lists l Buyers have different preferences for how they want insight delivered: First: interactive visualizations or visual storytelling Followed by: presentations and slide sets and text-based copy The next tier: videos and infographics Lastly: podcasts What role did the solution providers’ thought leadership content play in determining which providers…? % of Respondents (N=436) Thought leadership is crucial to solution provider awareness, interest, and consideration You wanted to learn more about? Made it on to your shortlist? Critical Important Somewhat Important Of Minor Importance Of No Importance Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014
  5. 5. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 5 #3: Personalized Approach Personalization is the new mantra of marketing. B2B marketing is person-to-person marketing. l It’s micro-targeting and using technology to customize the experience and for marketing to add more value l It’s ensuring an integrated personal experience both on and offline l It’s using superior understanding of the buyer’s needs and behavior to persuade the buyer to choose you Moreover, buyers welcome personalization. They find personalization to be a valuable service. When solution providers personalize their marketing and sales materials to address your specific business issues are you more, less, or equally likely to consider purchasing solutions from them? % of Respondents (N=436) Buyers are more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues More likely 50% Equally likely 39% Less likely 9% Don’t know 2% Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014
  6. 6. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 6 #4: Engagement Too often relationship marketing is a mechanical process of increasingly focused communication activities: emails, webinars, newsletter subscriptions, seminars, private briefings, and so on. It’s a formulaic progression. But real relationships don’t follow a formula. They’re messy and unpredictable, and each one is different. The challenge is to engage customers and prospects and build real relationships. Marketers need to: l Stop talking and listen l Cultivate more strategic relationships to gain insight, advice, and constructive criticism l Show that listening leads to action As marketers, we need to engage three different audiences Relationship The Marketing Challenge Creating Awareness and Building Relationships Increasing Knowledge, Collaboration, and Innovation Communicating Relevant Value Propositions The Predominant Marketing Approach Events, Thought Leadership, and Proof Points Customer Engagement Programs and ABM Buyer Personas, and ABM New Buying Centers in Existing Accounts Existing Relationships in Existing Accounts New Accounts Establishing Deepening Expanding Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014
  7. 7. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 7 Here’s what the cutting-edge B2B solutions marketers will be doing in 2015  Integrating on- and off-line marketing  Connecting on social media  Expanding the role and visibility of SMEs  Creating and communicating true thought leadership  Enabling sales to do thought leadership selling  Increasing relevance with Buyer Personas and B2I  Accelerating growth with ABM  Creating a comprehensive program to engage with existing customers
  8. 8. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 8 26 22 10 10 8 7 7 11 Other Energy/Utilities/Oil/Mining/Gas Government/Non-Profit/Public Sector Healthcare Business Services Communications Financial Services Manufacturing Study Methodology In Fall 2014, ITSMA conducted a web survey of 436 business, finance, and IT executives from companies that purchase technology–based solutions for individual contracts over $500,000. These respondents represented larger enterprises, with 50% having $1 billion or more in annual revenue from seven different countries: US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, India, and Brazil. Countries Represented % of Respondents (N=436) US 41% UK 13% France 10% Germany 10% India 10% Australia 8% Brazil 8% Note: Other includes: retail/wholesale, transportation, travel and hospitality, aerospace/defense What is your company’s primary business? % of Respondents (N=436) Annual Revenue of Organizations Represented Approximately what is your company’s annual revenue (or operating budget if government)? % of Respondents (N=436) 5 15 19 23 15 12 $100– 249M $250– 499M $500– 999M $1– 4.9B $5– 9.9B $10–20B or more Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014
  9. 9. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 9 52 16 12 11 9 C-level/ Pres./ General Manager Director/ Assistant VP VP/ Senior VP/ Head Manager Controller/ Treasurer Respondent Characteristics Purchase Involvement How would you characterize your involvement in your organization’s purchases of major technology solutions for individual contracts over $500,000? % of Respondents (N=436) Job Role Are you an IT or business professional? % of Respondents (N=436) Job Title Which of the following most closely describes your job title? % of Respondents (N=436) IT 54% Business 46% Note: Multiple responses allowed. I have budget and/or final sign-off authority I research potential providers for inclusion on the short list/ I evaluate the providers on the short list and select the best solution I provide input to help the evaluators and decision makers 75 33 30 Decision maker Evaluator Influencer Source: ITSMA, How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014
  10. 10. ITSMA Survey | 2014 How B2B Buyers Consume Information © 2014 ITSMA. All rights reserved. F025AS Reproduction or forwarding of this document to others is prohibited. 10 Table of Contents for Persuading Buyers to Choose You, Results from the ITSMA How B2B Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2014 For More Information Julie Schwartz Senior Vice President Research and Thought Leadership ITSMA Email: jschwartz@itsma.com Phone: +1-781-862-8500, Ext. 112 Slide Executive Summary 3 Human Contact 6 Insight 12 Personalized Approach 16 Engagement 19 Methodology and Respondent Demographics 34 Detailed Findings 43 Crosstabs 69 By Social Media Use 69 By Type of Purchase 85 By Country 102 By Job Role 119 By Size of Company 136 By Industry 153

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