Sunday, November 22, 2020

New Research Unveils the Attributes of B2B Technology Buying and Selling

Image Source:  TrustRadius

This month, TrustRadius published the findings of its fifth annual B2B buying disconnect study. The 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect report provides a wealth of valuable insights regarding the sale and purchase of business technology solutions.

The report is based on two surveys that were fielded in September of this year. One was a survey of 907 individuals who were involved in making business technology purchases for their organization, and the second was a survey of 227 individuals who work for technology vendors in a sales or marketing capacity. More than 75% of the respondents in both surveys were based in the United States.

These surveys addressed a broad range of topics. The buyer survey includes findings about the technology buying process, how technology buyers learn about products and services and research potential purchases, and how they view technology vendors. The seller survey explored how technology vendors seek to engage potential buyers and how they rate the effectiveness of their marketing and sales tactics. And of course, both surveys addressed how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted technology buying and selling in 2020.

The TrustRadius study focused exclusively on the attributes of technology sales and purchases and on the attitudes and behaviors of technology buyers and vendors. While the results of these surveys may not be completely applicable to all types of B2B purchases and sales, it's likely they would be similar to those involving complex, high-consideration products or services.

It will take a few posts to unpack the results of the TrustRadius research. In this post, I'll describe some of the basic attributes of technology buying and selling in 2020 and what we may see in 2021.

Technology Spending in 2020 and 2021

In the TrustRadius buyer survey, 49% of the respondents said their spending on technology products and services decreased in 2020, 27% reported increased spending, and 19% said their spending had not changed. It's noteworthy that only 21% of the buyer respondents expected their 2020 technology spending to decrease "substantially."

These responses reflect the uneven economic impacts of the pandemic. COVID-19 has severely affected companies in some industries (travel and hospitality, for example), while several other types of businesses have experienced dramatic revenue growth (think Amazon and Zoom).

TrustRadius found that the outlook for technology spending in 2021 is mixed. Fifty-six percent of the respondents in the buyer survey expect their technology spending to return to pre-pandemic levels or increase in 2021, while 17% expect spending to decrease next year, and 27% aren't sure what their technology spending will look like in 2021. More specifically, a majority of the buyer respondents expect to spend more on video and web conferencing software (64%) and online collaboration/project management software (53%) in 2021.

More Time Spent on Buying

TrustRadius also found that the pandemic has changed how much time buyer spend on technology purchases. In the buyer survey, about one-third of the respondents said they spent more time this year:

  • Clearly defining the expected ROI of technology investments
  • Researching products
  • Comparing products
  • Prioritizing selection criteria
Interestingly, 26% of the buyer respondents said they spent less time in 2020 talking with vendor representatives, and 20% reported spending less time consulting with their buying committee.
Despite buyers' efforts to streamline the buying process, vendors believe the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in longer sales cycles. In the seller survey, 57% of the respondents said their deal cycles are longer than before the pandemic. One in four respondents said the length of their sales cycle hasn't changed, and 19% reported shorter sales cycles.
Buying Groups Get Slightly Smaller
During 2020, a significant number of employees at B2B companies have been working from home. Online conferencing tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have enabled remote employees to perform their work fairly effectively. However, the pandemic appears to have caused some companies to reduce the number of people involved in purchase decisions.
In the latest TrustRadius buyer survey, respondents indicated that 67% of buying decisions are made by buying groups composed of 2 to 5 individuals. That was up from 61% of buying decisions in last year's survey. Meanwhile, the percentage of buying decisions made by buying groups composed of 6 or more people fell from 34% in last year's survey to 29% in this year's survey.
Coming Up
In my next post, I'll discuss what the TrustRadius research says about how technology buyers learn about and research products and services.

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