日期:2020-04-02 来源:鼎韬 阅读:1336

B2B Buying Process: How Businesses Purchase B2B Services and Software

By Grayson Kemper
作者Grayson Kemper
Content & Editorial Manager, Clutch
February 26, 2020

      Businesses rely heavily on vendor resources to make B2B buying decisions. Ultimately, the amount of time, number of people, and resources impact how business buyers hire a business service provider or invest in software.


  The B2B buying process is exceedingly difficult for businesses.


  According to Harvard Business School, businesses consider 40 "elements of value" when hiring a business service provider or investing in software, including how B2B buying impacts businesses’ operations and productivity and employees’ personal lives. 


  What's more, businesses exist in an information economy flooded with resources they can reference to make a purchasing decision.


  Clutch surveyed 451 employees who were involved in their businesses’ decision to hire a business services provider or invest in software in the past 12 months. The survey explored how businesses make critical decisions during the buying process at each stage of the B2B sales funnel: 


  · Researching information about the B2B companies most relevant to a business’s needs

  · 研究与企业需求最相关的B2B公司的信息

  · Evaluating B2B companies to create a shortlist that best aligns with a business’s needs

  · 评估B2B公司,以创建最符合企业需求的候选名单

  · Quoting and comparing prices of select B2B companies to determine budget fit

  · 让选定的B2B公司进行报价并比较价格,以确定合适的预算

  · Communicating and negotiating terms of partnership with representatives of B2B companies

  · 与B2B公司代表沟通和协商合作条款

  · Signing off on final agreements to hire a B2B company

  · 签署雇用B2B公司的最终协议

  For B2B services and software companies, our findings demonstrate the importance of proactively instilling trust with business buyers though:


  · Using their sales representatives 

  · 使用他们的销售代表

  · Building a consistent brand profile online

  · 在线上建立一致的品牌形象

  · Creating helpful resources to help businesses make a purchasing decision

  · 创建有帮助的资源,帮助企业做出购买决策

  Key Findings


  How Much Time Does a B2B Buying Process Take?


  · Researching and gathering information takes the longest relative to other stages of the buying process. 

  · 相对于购买流程的其他阶段,研究和收集信息的时间最长。

  · Businesses spend less time in each stage of the buying process as they progress toward purchasing. 

  · 伴随购买的推进,企业在采购流程的每个阶段花费的时间越来越少。

  Who At a Business Is Involved in the B2B Buying Process?


  · Most businesses rely on groups of younger, digital-savvy employees to research and evaluate B2B companies. 

  · 大多数企业依靠一群更年轻、精通数字技术的员工来研究和评估B2B公司。

  · Making final decisions is centralized with individual or small groups of older employees. 

  · 最终决策集中于个别或少数老员工群体。

  · Businesses rely on more people to hire a business services provider than to invest in software.

  · 与投资于软件相比,企业依靠更多的人雇用商业服务提供商。

  Which Resources Do Businesses Rely on During a B2B Buying Process?


  · Businesses rely on recommendations or referrals for gathering information about and evaluating business services but turn to vendor resources such as a company website or sales representative later in the purchasing process. 

  · 企业依靠推荐或引荐来收集有关商业服务的信息并评估商业服务,但随后在采购流程中会求助于供应商资源,如公司网站或销售代表。

  · On the other hand, businesses rely on vendor resources the most when investing in software, especially company websites.

  · 另一方面,企业在投资于软件时最依赖供应商资源,尤其是公司网站。

  What Do Businesses Think is Most Important About B2B Company Websites and Online Reviews?


  · Nearly all businesses have used an on online review to help make a B2B purchasing decision and are most likely to encounter reviews on company websites. 

  · 几乎所有企业都使用过在线评论来帮助做出B2B采购决策,并且最有可能在公司网站上看到评论。

  · Transparent information about cost on a B2B company's website is most important for business buyers.

  · B2B公司网站上有关成本的透明信息对商业买家而言最为重要。

  · The validity of an online review — how reputable the source of the review – is most important for business buyers. 

  · 在线评论的有效性-评价来源的信誉度-对商业买家来说最为重要。

  Businesses Spend the Most Time Researching in the B2B Buying Process


  Businesses spend the most time during the B2B buying process researching and gathering information about business services and software companies. As they close in on a purchase, businesses spend less time at each stage. 


  Key Findings


  · Businesses spend the most time at the top of the B2B sales funnel: More than half spend at least one month researching and evaluating business services (52%) and software (51%). 

  · 企业花在B2B销售漏斗顶部的时间最多:一半以上的企业至少花一个月时间研究和评估企业服务(52%)和软件(51%)

  · On the other hand, businesses act quickly when making closing a B2B buying process: More than half spend one week or less making a final decision about hiring a business service provider (52%) or investing in software (57%). 

  · 另一方面,企业在关闭B2B购买流程时行动迅速:超过一半的企业花了一周或更少的时间来决定是否雇用一家商业服务提供商(52%)或投资于软件(57%)。

  · For most businesses, it takes the same time to hire a business service provider (70%) or invest in software (75%) compared to previous experiences. 

  · 对大多数企业而言,与以往的经验相比,聘用商业服务提供商(70%)或投资于软件(75%)花费同样的时间。

  Formerly, B2B purchases were mapped based on the sales funnel — with prospects following a linear path starting with learning about a B2B company and ending with purchasing. 


Businesses now jump more fluidly between stages of the sales funnel as the B2B buying process moves online, though.



  Source: MailMunch


  When businesses research B2B companies, for example, there often isn’t one specific thing they want to learn. Instead, they may want to understand a market, determine their exact needs, or estimate the approximate cost of a B2B purchase — all at once. 


  Businesses collect and compare this information across multiple companies, which adds to their time commitment.


  “Typically, in the initial stages of a purchasing process, knowledge of the products/services in that industry is lesser,” said Karthik Sridharan, founder of Remote.Tools, a community platform for remote tech tools. “[Businesses] need more time to understand the metrics of comparison — is it a particular feature, price, customer support, etc.?”

  远程技术工具社区平台Remote.Tools的创始人Karthik Sridharan说:“通常,在购买流程的最初阶段,对该行业产品/服务的了解较少。”“【企业】需要更多的时间来理解比较的指标-它是一个特定的特征、价格、客户支持、等吗?”

  Due to the scope of their research, businesses spend the most time researching and evaluating services and software compared to comparing prices, negotiating, or making a final decision about a B2B company. More than half of businesses spend one month or more researching and evaluating business services providers (52%) or software (51%). 



  Oppositely, businesses spend far less time making a final decision about a B2B purchase: Over half of businesses spend one week or less making a final decision about hiring a business service provider (52%) or investing in software (57%). 



  At the end of the purchasing process, all of the work that goes into identifying, vetting, comparing, and negotiating with B2B companies makes the final decision as simple as a “yes” or “no” from a decision-maker at a company, which requires much less time than researching everything about a B2B company. 


  Businesses Seek the Most Input During the Initial Stages of a B2B Purchase


  Most businesses rely on a small group of people to drive the B2B buying process, especially for investing in software. The number of people involved in investing in business services or software decreases as a company gets closer to making a B2B purchase. 


  Key Findings


  · Four or more people are involved in researching business services (49%) providers and software (41%) in the B2B purchasing process.

  · 在B2B采购流程中,有四个或更多的人参与研究商业服务(49%)提供商和软件(41%)。

  · Relying on a single person to make a purchasing decision about services (30%) or software (37%) is relatively common.

  · 依靠一个人就做出关于服务(30%)或软件(37%)的购买决定是比较常见的。

  · In the past year, the number of people involved in the B2B buying process has not changed much: Two-thirds of businesses (66%) rely on the same number of people to hire a business services provider, while three-fourths (75%) rely on the same number of people to invest in software. 

  · 在过去一年中,参与B2B购买流程的人数变化不大:三分之二的企业(66%)依靠同样数量的人来雇用商业服务提供商,而四分之三(75%)的企业依靠同样数量的人来投资软件。

  The research and evaluation stages of the B2B purchasing process are the most democratic. For example, nearly half of businesses rely on a group of at least 4 people to research business services. 



  Making a final decision about a B2B company, though, is centralized. More than 60% of businesses rely on a team of 1-3 people to make a final decision about a B2B company. Many rely on just a single individual. 



  Making a B2B purchase is a long-term and expensive investment. Businesses often solicit input from all parts of the company to inform their purchase decision. 


  Greg Fung, North American partner specialist team manager for HubSpot, a marketing software company headquartered in Boston, says the number of people involved at the beginning stages of the B2B buying journey creates pressure on businesses to choose a B2B company that fits the needs of all stakeholders at a business. 

  总部位于波士顿的营销软件公司HubSpot的北美合作伙伴专家团队经理Greg Fung说,B2B购买旅程开始阶段的参与人数给企业带来了压力,即让他们选择一家能够满足企业所有利益相关者需求的B2B公司。

  "In an increasingly complex B2B world, there are an increasing number of stakeholders to navigate when choosing a vendor," Fung said. "In fact, as the number of impacted stakeholders increase, the energy around the initial stages of purchasing is likely to go up."

  “在一个日益复杂的B2B世界中,有越来越多的利益相关者在选择供应商时进行导航,” Fung说。“事实上,随着受影响的利益相关者数量的增加,围绕采购初期的精力也可能会增加。”

  "As the number of impacted stakeholders increase, the energy around the initial stages of purchasing is likely to go up." – Greg Fung, HubSpot

  “随着受影响的利益相关者数量的增加,围绕采购初期的精力也可能会增加。”-Greg Fung,HubSpot

  For example, when a business hires a web developer to create an e-commerce website, the project can impact the company’s sales, supply chain, network security, marketing, and design teams. 


  Businesses may enroll people from multiple teams at the beginning of the purchasing process to ensure that they choose a partner that fits the whole company's needs. 


  Even with input from multiple departments, however, the number of people involved in making purchasing decisions has not changed much compared to businesses’ past experiences:


  · Two-thirds of businesses (66%) rely on the same number of people to hire a business services provider.

  · 三分之二的企业(66%)依靠同样数量的人来雇用商业服务提供商。

  · Three-fourths of businesses (75%) rely on the same number of people to invest in software. 

  · 四分之三的企业(75%)依靠同样数量的人投资于软件。

  The demographics of business buyers, though, may have shifted. 


  Young Employees are the Most Responsible For Initial Stages of B2B Purchases


  Younger employees are the most involved at the beginning of B2B buying process. During these stages, businesses’ actions reflect younger generations’ preferences for collaboration and using digital resources to inform purchasing decisions.


  Key Findings


  · More than half of business buyers under age 35 (57%) are responsible for researching and evaluating software, while 42% are responsible for researching and evaluating business services. 

  · 超过一半的35岁以下的商业买家(57%)负责研究和评估软件,42%负责研究和评估商业服务。

  · Very few buyers responsible for signing off on final agreements to invest in software (12%) or hire business services (14%) are under age 35. 

  · 负责签署投资软件(12%)或雇用商业服务(14%)最终协议的买家很少是35岁以下的人。

  Research suggests that younger employees are increasingly involved in making B2B purchasing decisions:


  · According to r2integrated, “Modern B2B buyers generally belong to the millennial cohort who grew up in digitally-enabled environments.”

  · 根据r2integrated的说法,“现代B2B买家通常属于在数字化环境中成长的千禧一代群体。”

  · According to LinkedIn, “Millennials are gaining representation on the technology buying committee and holding decision-making power.”

  · 根据LinkedIn的说法,“千禧一代正在获得技术购买委员会的代表权,并在掌握决策权。”

  This research suggests that modern B2B buyers are millennials who are comfortable with digital-first environments and value collaboration with peers when making decisions. 


  Our data demonstrates that younger employees are most likely to be involved in the stages of the B2B buying process that are the most collaborative and leverage digital resources the most: researching information about and evaluating B2B companies. 


  The people making final decisions about investing in services providers or software, on the other hand, tend to be older. 


  For example, 86% of people responsible for signing off on final agreements with business service providers are 35 years of age or older.



  Millennials contribute to businesses B2B buying decisions, but they share responsibilities with older colleagues. 


  Businesses Rely Heavily on Vendor Resources to Make a B2B Buying Decision


  Businesses reference a mix of digital and legacy sources of information when making a B2B purchasing decision. They still rely heavily on vendor resources such as a company’s website or sales associates, giving B2B companies an opportunity to influence how businesses conduct B2B buying.


  Key Findings


  · Businesses depend most on recommendations or referrals when gathering information about (55%) and evaluating (53%) business services. For comparing prices (43%) or making a final decision (43%) about a business service provider, businesses refer most to the service providers’ representatives. 

  · 在收集有关商业服务信息(55%)和评估(53%)商业服务时,企业最依赖于推荐或引荐。对于比较价格(43%)或对商业服务提供商做出最终决定(43%),企业最主要参考服务提供商的代表。

  · Businesses depend most on software companies' websites for researching (57%), evaluating (50%), and comparing prices of (48%) software. 

  · 企业最依赖软件公司的网站来研究(57%)、评估(50%)和比较(48%)软件的价格。

  · The number of resources businesses use to hire a business service provider (30%) and invest in software (26%) has increased over the past year. 

  · 企业所使用的雇用商业服务提供商(30%)和投资于软件(26%)的资源数量在过去一年有所增加。

  Businesses still heavily rely on vendor resources during the B2B purchasing process, especially when it comes to making a final decision.


  They also rely on external, third-party resources and content such as: 


  · Peer reviews and recommendations

  · 同行评价和推荐

  · Online reviews

  · 在线评论

  · Search engines

  · 搜索引擎

  · Industry-specific content (e.g., blogs, whitepapers, market research)

  · 特定行业内容(如博客、白皮书、市场研究)

  Businesses depend on external resources the most at the top of the B2B sales funnel – the research and evaluation stages. 



  Buyers do not trust singular information sources to make a buying decision: Our data shows they increasingly reference more resources during the B2B buying process.


  As such, B2B companies need to create a consistent digital profile across third-party resources.


  “Ensure your brand story, in the form of reviews, ratings, or references, is available in as many forms and across as many sites as is relevant,” said Eric Quanstrom, CMO at Cience, a lead generation company in California.

  加州潜在客户开发公司Cience的首席营销官Eric Quanstrom说:“确保你的品牌故事,以评论、评级或参考的形式,以尽可能多的形式在尽可能多的相关网站被找到。”。

  Businesses’ reliance on both vendor and external resources points to B2B companies’ need to create relevant content and use their sales representatives to build trust in buyers.


  “You need to meet your customers where they are,” said Garrett Sussman, head of content for Grade.us, a review management platform. “Some customers want to research, evaluate, and purchase without ever talking to a sales rep. In that case, you need to sell your business with your copy, value, and resources.”

  评论管理平台Grade.us的内容主管Garrett Sussman说:“你需要在客户所在的地方与他们相遇。”“有些客户希望在不与销售代表交谈的情况下进行研究、评估和购买。在这种情况下,你需要用你的拷贝、价值和资源来销售你的业务。”

  As businesses progress through the B2B buying process, the more they rely on vendor resources such as company websites and sales representatives to inform their purchasing decision. 



  If the information that buyers encounter through external content is consistent with what they find on a B2B company's website, the more they can trust that company. Trust, in turn, influences if a company ultimately converts on a purchase.


  If a B2B company is not transparent or consistent, however, resources such as online reviews and ratings platforms may provide conflicting information that can negatively influence buyers’ opinions. 


  Businesses Think Transparency About Cost Is Most Important on B2B Companies’ Websites


  When reviewing a B2B company’s website, buyers are most concerned about how transparent companies are about the cost of their services or software, reflecting how businesses prioritize trust in the B2B buying process. 


  Key Findings


  · Businesses are most concerned with transparent information about cost (25%) when reviewing a B2B company’s website. 

  · 企业在评价B2B公司网站时,最关心的是有关成本的透明信息(25%)。

  · Buyers also value case studies and testimonials (23%) and access to immediate feedback such as a chatbot (17%). 

  · 买家还重视案例研究和其他客户评价(23%),以及获得即时反馈,如聊天机器人(17%)。

  Buyers value authenticity when evaluating B2B companies to partner with. Providing transparent information builds buyer trust, particularly for buyers who are unfamiliar with a company. The premium businesses place on transparency is reflected in the characteristics they find most important about a B2B company’s website: 


  · Transparency about cost (25%)

  · 成本透明度(25%)

  · Case studies and testimonials (23%)

  · 案例研究和其他客户评价(23%)

  · Immediate access to information (17%)

  · 即时获取信息(17%)


  The more information businesses can access about a B2B company on its website, the less they may rely on external resources to do so. 


  For example, case studies and testimonials can give audiences intimate insight into a business service’s or software’s impact. Immediate access to information through a chatbot or a helpful FAQ page also helps fill in any blanks that company representatives or other website resources don't address.


  Online Reviews Build Trust With Buyers 


  Nearly all businesses have referenced online reviews as a source when making a B2B purchase. Businesses use online reviews to better understand a company and are most concerned with reviews’ validity. 


  Key Findings


  · Nearly all businesses (94%) have used an online review to help make a B2B purchasing decision.

  · 几乎所有企业(94%)都使用了在线评论来帮助做出B2B采购决策。

  · Company websites (68%) are the most-referenced source for online reviews, ahead of reviews on search engines (61%) and B2B ratings and reviews sites (53%). 

  · 公司网站(68%)是在线评论最多被参考的来源,领先于搜索引擎评论(61%)以及B2B评级和评论网站(53%)。

  · Half of businesses (50%) say that validity — in other words, how reputable the source — is the most important characteristic of an online review when making a B2B buying decision. 

  · 半数企业(50%)表示,有效性-换句话说,来源的信誉度-是在进行B2B购买决策时在线评论的最重要特征。

  · Nearly half of businesses (47%) read at least 6 reviews of a B2B company when making a B2B buying decision. 

  · 近一半的企业(47%)在进行B2B购买决策时至少阅读6条对B2B公司的评论。

Online reviews are a growing source of important information about B2B companies. Nearly all businesses (94%) have relied on a review to make a B2B buying decision. 


  For B2B companies, online reviews provide an opportunity to: 


  · Improve SEO: Online reviews are starting to take up more space on search engine results pages (SERPs), especially for local results. Collecting and responding to reviews allows business buyers to access information directly about a B2B company rather than having to navigate a company website or wait for outreach from a sales representative. 

  · 改进搜索引擎优化:在线评论开始占据搜索引擎结果页面的更多空间,尤其体现在本地搜索结果上。收集和回复评论可以让商业买家直接访问有关B2B公司的信息,而不必浏览公司网站或等待销售代表的联系。

  · Instill trust with customers: Online reviews provide personal insight about partnering with a B2B company, which people view as more objective than information listed on a company resource. 

  · 向客户逐渐灌输信任:在线评论提供与B2B公司合作的个人见解,人们认为这些信息比公司资源上列出的信息更客观。

  Because company websites are the resource most businesses rely on during their B2B purchasing process, it makes sense that most businesses encounter online reviews on company websites.



  Businesses also encounter online reviews on search engines and platforms dedicated to reviews for B2B services and software. 


  When businesses read online reviews, they are looking for proof that it's from a reliable source. Half of the businesses (50%) say validity — in other words, how reputable the source — is the most important characteristic of an online review. 



  Valid online reviews that are posted on reputable platforms provide clarity for business buyers, according to Fung.


  "There’s so much ‘noise’ on the internet that it’s challenging to find good, honest, reliable reviews about vendors," Fung said. "However, there are usually a few trusted review sites for most industries, and it’s well worth a vendor’s time, attention, and resources to show their best selves in those arenas."


  In fact, more than double the number of businesses are concerned with the validity of an online review than other characteristics, including:  


  · Rating or score (22%)

  · 评级或评分(22%)

  · Recency (11%)

  · 客户最近一次交易时间的间隔(11%)

  · Format or layout (8%)

  · 格式或布局(8%)

  · Length (8%)

  · 长度(8%)

  This data underscores the importance of B2B companies soliciting verified reviews from former clients across multiple platforms, including their website, search engines, and ratings and reviews sites. 


  The more reviews B2B companies collect, the closer they get to matching B2B buyer behavior: Nearly half of businesses (47%) read at least 6 reviews during their B2B buying process.


  A B2B company can positively influence buyers’ opinions by collecting valid, recent, and unbiased online reviews. 


  B2B Companies Can Influence Buyers but Need to Understand Businesses’ Purchasing Process


  When businesses hire a business services provider or invest in software, they spend the most time and rely on the most people to research and evaluate B2B companies. 


  At the research and evaluation stages, businesses also rely on younger employees the most, a group that is more likely to value collaboration and is comfortable researching multiple resources online to inform their purchasing decision. 


  Businesses need less time and rely on fewer resources as they progress through the stages of the B2B buying process. Specifically, businesses rely on smaller groups of 1-3 employees from older generations to make a final decision about a B2B purchase.


  Overall, businesses use a mix of vendor resources such as B2B companies’ websites and sales representatives and external resources such as online reviews and peer recommendations to help them during their purchasing process. 


  Our data indicates that B2B companies can influence buyer behavior. By providing transparent information about cost and using resources such as online reviews, B2B services and software companies can improve visibility online and engage and ultimately build trust with business buyers.  


  About the Survey


  Clutch surveyed 451 employees who were involved with their business hiring a business services provider or investing in software in the past 12 months. 


  Respondents range in ages: 20% are ages 34 and below; 52% are 35-54; and 27% are 55 years old and above. 


By Grayson Kemper

作者Grayson Kemper

Content & Editorial Manager, Clutch


February 26, 2020