What motivates business owners toward their biggest buying decisions, and how can vendors align their sales tactics to buyer needs? Global peer advisory and coaching network The Alternative Board surveyed business owners in all major industries on the factors influencing their largest purchases, and the results might surprise you. Below find five factors every vendor should keep in mind when guiding customers through their sales funnel.
1. Customers Are Your Biggest Sellers
When it comes to driving sales and creating trust in your business, customers are your biggest asset: 93 percent of business owners agree that reviews and analysis drive their major buying decisions. Furthermore, when asked what group or individual is most influential in their major purchasing decisions, 46 percent of owners chose other business owners using the products or services, compared to 27 percent who chose their employees and 10 percent who chose the vendor.
To maximize on word of mouth, vendors should make it as easy as possible for customers to leave online reviews. This is a point emphasized by The Alternative Board vice president David Scarola, who said:
“Third party validation is imperative, when it comes to convincing business owners to sign on the dotted line. It removes the guesswork and some of the potential risk associated with making a large purchase. A recommendation from a trusted peer adds familiarity to the unknown.”
2. Your Website Is Too Salesy
In the digital age, company sites have become a major source of product information for buyers: according to TAB’s survey, 55 percent of business owners use vendor websites as a first or second choice for evaluating offerings, compared to 45 percent who meet with company representatives and 42 percent who seek direct conversations with prospective vendors.
At the same time, 57 percent of business owners report that vendor communications are too sales-oriented. To build greater trust, vendors could stand to tone down their self promotion and give more real estate to independent content like customer reviews instead.
3. Value Added, Not Cost, Is a Top Priority
Think price is the leading driver of major buying decisions? Think again. More than half (56 percent) of business owners surveyed by TAB agree that value added is the most important outcome from large purchases, compared to 32 percent who seek increased revenue and only 12 percent who aim to reduce cost. When given the choice in their manufacturing processes, vendors should prioritize higher quality over low costs.
4. The Best Form of Outreach? None
Though 42 percent of business owners agree that email is the most effective way for new vendors to initiate contact with them, 26 percent prefer not to receive cold calls or messaging at all. This is why visibility is crucial for vendors seeking new contracts, and websites must be carefully curated to help their target audience.
5. Trial and Error Wins Over Demos
When it comes to developing customer confidence, 64 percent of buyers prefer personal trial and error over vendor demonstrations. “Business owners need something tangible they can believe in before making a purchase,” noted Scarola. “By interacting with the product or service in advance, they can form their own opinions based on what they experience, and either develop a relationship with the brand or end it before it even begins.”
If a vendor doesn’t already offer easy, hands-on product testing, they should implement ways to minimize existing barriers faced by potential customers.
To learn more about the influences by buyer decisions, visit TAB’s full survey results here, or find TAB’s B2B sales infographic below.