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Software decisions in a buyer-centric world

We live in a buyer-centric world.

Research into B2B purchase decisions suggests that power is increasingly shifting to buyers.

Today, buyers are more often driving the process on their own terms and timetable.

For example, here’s an interesting statistic on how businesses buy things:

“9 out of 10 buyers say that when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you”
DemandGen Report

How the buying process has changed

Traditionally, buyers of software and other major business purchases sought input early in the process from vendors to help them define and clarify their requirements. But today, buyers are often conducting extensive research on their own first.

As a result, when buyers do engage with vendors, they’ve often made up their mind and are just looking for confirmation and reference checking! In a nutshell, the traditional process for creating a shortlist has fundamentally changed.

What this means for software vendors

For software vendors, this new behaviour has both positive and negative implications. On the plus side, when buyers choose to engage with you they are often much closer to purchase. More educated buyers can mean shorter sales cycles and lower selling costs.

However, the flip side is that vendors now have much less influence over the purchase process … sometimes to the extent of being ruled out even before you even knew there was an opportunity. The key challenge for vendors is to make sure you’re in the consideration set when buyers are ready to buy.

Challenges for software buyers

This change is mostly good for software buyers — i.e. you have more power in the purchasing process!  However, it does also present important challenges. In particular, you now have to sift through vast quantities of information, trying to make sense of what’s available and which options are most relevant.

As B2B consulting firm Greenhat puts it, there is “an over-supply of unfiltered content” on the web, so smart buyers are looking for ways to cut through the clutter.

Common techniques used by buyers to get closer to a decision include (i) asking trusted advisors and colleagues for advice, (ii) reading content from respected authorities and thought-leaders, and (iii) making use of shortlisting and comparison services, such as our Get A Shortlist offering.