Aberdeen/PJA Survey on Global BtoB Buyers Reveals that More than 65% of Buyers Want to Be Challenged


Mike O’Toole

Nearly Half Will Pay a Premium for Products They Believe Build Competitive Advantage

Aberdeen Group and PJA Advertising + Marketing, six-time winner of the BtoB Agency of the Year, today announced the results of a global survey entitled “The BtoB Buyer: Reality vs. Myth.” The goal of this survey was to look beyond the common assumptions people make about BtoB buyers and uncover what really makes them tick.

Among the notable trends:

Buyers want change and want to be challenged. When we asked, “Are you more likely to work with a vendor who challenges the way you currently do business – for example, by highlighting a pain point or organizational weakness you weren’t aware of?” more than 65% agreed.

Buyers will alter their purchase criteria for companies that address pain points. More than half of respondents said that would be more likely to work with a vendor who changed their purchasing criteria by addressing a pain point they couldn’t solve before.

Buyers want a path to competitive advantage; products are just a means to this end. A plurality of companies said they last paid a premium for a product or service when they believed it would generate competitive advantage. Only total cost of ownership was judged more important.

If buyers don’t find compelling reasons to purchase, the process stalls. The two greatest barriers to purchase approval in today’s organizations were lack of clarity around what the company needed (32.8%) and indecision (27.9%).

During July and August 2017, Aberdeen and PJA surveyed more than 250 BtoB buyers across a range of industries including technology, professional services, and manufacturing. Company size ranged from under $50 million to over $5 billion, with 60% in North America, 21% in Europe, 12% in Asia/Pacific, and the rest distributed across Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. More than a third of respondents were CEOs or Presidents, with Managers, Directors, and Vice Presidents making up 41% of the rest.

The survey also looked at purchase triggers and perceived product differentiation. These results included:

Brand is an important factor in putting together a short list of vendors, but less important as the purchasing decision nears (13.3% vs 4.3%).

–In two-thirds of cases, buying decisions are triggered by a perceived business strategy need, versus when a solution is outdated or a higher-level executive calls for it.

–More than a third (37%) reported that products under consideration are infrequently or never seen as superior to each other.

The single greatest factor that determines the time horizon for a purchase is not budget review cycles, but perceived complexity of implementing a new solution (45.1%).

“These results highlight that brands need to inspire their customers to embrace change, and often that’s not happening,” said Mike O’Toole, President of PJA. “The most effective brands challenge buying assumptions and paint a vision for a better market. By doing that they find buyers who are open to new possibilities and can significantly shorten their sales cycle.”

"Companies are hungry for real competitive differentiation. Once you understand that, you become acutely aware of how few companies are actually able to articulate how their solution offers anything of the kind," said Matthew Grant, Senior Director of Content Strategy at Aberdeen.

To view the full results of the Aberdeen/PJA BtoB Buyer survey, which provides an in-depth examination of the preferences and motivations that drive IT professionals and executives, please visit link.

About Aberdeen Research

Aberdeen Group is a technology and services company that helps tech sales and marketing executives distill smart data science into actionable moments. We help companies win through our unique targeting capabilities (using the CI Technology Data Set), advanced analytics using our own innovative proprietary and public data sources, and our original and research-based content engine. For more information, visit Aberdeen.com.

About PJA

PJA is a $75 million advertising and marketing agency with offices in Cambridge, Mass. and San Francisco, Calif. PJA serves a global roster of technology, life science and healthcare clients that includes: GE Healthcare, PAREXEL, Patheon, Molecular Health, Xylem, and Aprecia. For more information, visit agencypja.com.

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