4 Key Insights to Reach Self-Serve Buyers
Our founder and CEO, Vinay Bhagat, had the opportunity to speak with Neil C. Hughes, tech columnist and podcaster of the Tech Talks Daily Podcast. Their conversation focused on today’s tech buyers and what their preferences look like in 2022. With news headlines predicting a possible recession and the tech industry becoming more competitive with each passing year, it’s more important than ever for technology providers to understand what their buyers want and execute GTM strategies that line up with these preferences.
Why does TrustRadius focus on learning more about tech buyers?
TrustRadius was founded because of an industry need to bridge the gap between vendors’ tactics and buyers’ preferences. Vinay noticed the need for an authentic, in-depth B2B review site while he was researching coffee machines. He realized that the excellent review site resources available in the B2C world didn’t yet exist in the B2B marketplace.
“You could find this incredibly rich information for consumer goods, but you couldn’t for business. And it just struck me as an obvious opportunity to take a concept that was well understood in the consumer world—sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google’s product review sites—and parlay that to the business world.” (7:11-7:32)
Today’s buyers spoke, and we listened
Neil and Vinay also discussed the 2022 B2B Buying Disconnect report, which collected responses from over 2,000 technology buyers, many of whom are millennials and Gen Z. The survey revealed some eye-opening stats. Neil and Vinay had the chance to unpack what some of these findings mean for B2B marketers. Here are the four biggest takeaways from their conversation:
1. Buyers want to self-educate before speaking with a sales rep.
Tech buyers want to research and have product information at their fingertips before taking the step of calling a sales rep. In fact, our survey found that virtually 100% of buyers want to self-serve part or all of their buying journey.
As the very first step of this self-education stage, they usually want to check out information like pricing, product demos, and user reviews. These are consumer habits, transferred over to the business world.
“I think the pandemic, as well as demographics, has driven a tendency to do a lot of self-education before you contact marketing or sales. Buyers want to remain anonymous as long as possible. They want to defer the point that they talk to sales, and so we think of this as the age of the self-serve buyer.” (9:26-9:45)
2. Buyers want to see pricing, product specs, free trials, and self-guided demos.
As part of the shift toward self-service, buyers want to see resources like transparent pricing (81% of survey respondents reported).
“[Buyers] really are trying to understand things like pricing. They won’t get a detailed quote, obviously, but at a high level, they want to understand, What’s the price of this product? Is it something that’s even affordable to me?’” (10:47-11:00)
Buyers also value product specs (72%), free trials (64%), and product demos (44%) because they want to interact with the product in a tangible way.
“So just like in the travel world, TripAdvisor has candid photos from travelers as well as polished photos from the hotels. The analogy in the software world is a demo or trial where people want to feel the product in some way—touch it.” (11:10-11:38)
3. Vendor sales reps are playing a smaller role in the buying journey.
One of the most notable findings in this year’s B2B Buying Disconnect report was the new role that sales reps are playing in the buying journey. When our survey respondents reported which sources they use during their research process, vendor sales reps dropped by 18%. This removed them from the list of top five resources that buyers use. Surprisingly, this statistic rang true for all types of software purchases—both big and small. Even though buyers will inevitably speak to sales, they still want to research independently and understand the product before they take that step.
This doesn’t make sales reps unneeded or irrelevant, however. Instead, it means that they need to shift their roles to become more consultative, rather than spending time providing information that buyers prefer to gather on their own.
4. Social proof matters. A lot.
We also saw an overarching theme throughout our report: a general emphasis on using third-party sources when researching. The use of user reviews increased, no matter the size of the organization, purchase price of the product, or age of the buyer. Communities/forums and analyst rankings and reports were also reported to be used more frequently across all purchase prices.
All of this shows how much buyers value the opinions of voices other than vendors themselves. Plus, we often see that buyers struggle to differentiate a product from others in its category. The best way to respond to this issue is to back up your brand story with an authentic customer voice as social proof and validation.
As a result, B2B companies need to start prioritizing gathering and displaying social proof. When you display social proof like user reviews on your own website and other resources, it not only gains the interest and trust of potential buyers but can even have some helpful side effects, such as boosting your SEO program.
Buyers often struggle with differentiating your product from others in your category. Often, the best way to stand out is to back up your brand story with an authentic customer voice.
TrustRadius equips tech vendors with tools to reach today’s buyers
Wondering where to head next after hearing about these big changes in buying preferences? No need to fear—we’ve got you covered! In addition to providing buyers with in-depth, authentic reviews to assist with their research processes, TrustRadius also helps tech vendors understand and access in-market buyers.
Downstream intent data is one of our most powerful offerings for tech vendors. We can provide insights about the visitors to our site and which product profiles they are visiting. This data gives vendors some great insights into their buyers’ journeys, competitors, churn, and so much more. By seeing who is visiting their profile and researching competitors in their product category, vendors can tailor their marketing/sales efforts to truly align with what their potential buyers are ready to see.