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The type of content B2B buyers say helps vendors win deals [study]

B2B buyers say they want quality content that demonstrates you understand their industry, and their company and helps them to build a business case to buy your tech product

One of the reasons content marketing is so important to B2B companies is the fact that the last person a buyer speaks to is a salesperson.

For the better part of 10 years, studies have shown that buyers have all but made a decision by the time they talk to sales. This has taken a long and complex sales cycle in B2B – and made even longer and involves more decision makers.

A recent study by the Demand Gen Report conducted for the video platform Vidyard drives this point home. The survey polled “nearly 300 B2B buyers, who hold roles in marketing, IT, operations, sales, finance and more.”

The emphasis added below is mine.

1. The typical B2B buying process

The survey report establishes the basic steps B2b buyers take in evaluating products. There are eight steps according to respondents:

  • Conducted anonymous research on potential solutions;
  • Collected preliminary information on pricing;
  • Brought in other team members;
  • Evaluated which solutions would fit well with existing partners;
  • Sought input from industry analysts or consultants;
  • Sought input from peers or existing users in the community;
  • Accepted outreach from vendors and engaged in calls and demos; and
  • Spoke to and engaged with a sales representative from the selected vendor.

Observation: These steps reinforce what B2B marketing and sales organizations should already know. Your chance to influence deals has moved upstream which is why marketing is so important in B2B.

2. New processes added to the basic B2B buying process

The study also found buyers have added additional processes.

  • 38% are conducting a more detailed ROI analysis;
  • 31% are spending more time researching purchase decisions;
  • 24% are altering decision timelines based on changing business needs/priorities;
  • 24% are spending more time using social media to research vendors; and
  • 23% are relying more on peer recommendations or review sites.

Observation: The top two findings above are getting the most attention. Social media seems to be having an increased influence on B2B marketing. I’ve observed three other recent studies are coming to similar conclusions:

If you aren’t managing your social channels effectively, including sharing your content organically, you are missing a way buyer say they are discovering products they need.

3. What is it that buyers are looking for in B2B content?

The question B2B marketing organizations need to ask themselves is what is it that buyers want from content?

According to the survey, the top-three factors buyers look for when visiting a website include:

  • 66% want easy access to pricing and competitive information;
  • 63% want easy access to relevant content that speaks directly to their company;
  • 55% want communication that speaks directly to and demonstrates expertise around the needs of their industry.

The survey report then elaborates: “With that information in hand, the specific information buyers are looking for include” the following:

  • 79% look for pricing;
  • 76% look for features and functions;
  • 65% look for reviews;
  • 65% look for demonstrated experience with or knowledge of our industry; and
  • 56% look for deployment time and ease of use.

Observation 1: Pricing comes up first on two separate questions in this survey. I’ve seen this result before in another survey by McKinsey.

It makes complete sense that buyers want to know what it costs. It’s a huge screening factor. No one wants to go through a long waltz with a vendor only to find out you are out of their price range. Why do vendors do this? Because they believe if they can show the customer the software in a demo, it will sell itself. If they name a price, they’ll never get to show the software. That’s old-school thinking from 20 years ago. I don’t think it holds up anymore and studies, while not definitive, increasingly support that viewpoint.

Put a range up or at a minimum describe your pricing mode (user seats, data consumption, etc.)

Observation 2: The second observation is that content that speaks directly to prospects and demonstrates industry expertise comes up three times. This is a huge clue for your content strategy.

When you say “thought leadership” what you really need to be doing is demonstrating expertise. That’s how you move deals forward. You demonstrate you know your prospects’ business.

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4. What content helps B2B vendors win deals?

The survey found “81% of buyers said had a significant impact on their buying decisions.” When the study asked respondents for their top five reasons for selecting the winner, here’s how the answers stacked up:

  • 67% of buyers said winning vendors demonstrated a stronger knowledge of their company and needs;
  • 67% of buyers said winning vendors demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and business landscape;
  • 61% of buyers said winning vendors provided higher-quality content;
  • 60% of buyers said winning vendors responded to inquiries in a timely manner; and
  • 59% of buyers said winning vendors provided content that made it easier to show ROI or build a business case for the purchase.

Observation: This is execution guidance for any content strategy. B2B buyers say they want quality content that demonstrates you understand their industry, and their company and helps them to build a business case to buy your product.

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There’s much more detail in the full report. You can download a copy here: 2023 B2B Buyer’s Survey.

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Image credit: respective study and DALL-E, “a diverse group of professional men and women, dressed in business attire, eating pages from various reports, articles and white papers in the style of van ghoh

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