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鼎韜  |  2020年04月02日

  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

  · 研究與企業需求最相關的B2B公司的信息

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

  · 評估B2B公司,以創建最符合企業需求的候選名單

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

  · 讓選定的B2B公司進行報價并比較價格,以確定合適的預算

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

  · 與B2B公司代表溝通和協商合作條款

  · Signing off on final agreements to hire a B2B company

  · 簽署雇用B2B公司的最終協議

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


  · Using their sales representatives 

  · 使用他們的銷售代表

  · Building a consistent brand profile online

  · 在線上建立一致的品牌形象

  · Creating helpful resources to help businesses make a purchasing decision

  · 創建有幫助的資源,幫助企業做出購買決策

  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. 

  · 相對于購買流程的其他階段,研究和收集信息的時間最長。

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

  · 伴隨購買的推進,企業在采購流程的每個階段花費的時間越來越少。

  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. 

  · 大多數企業依靠一群更年輕、精通數字技術的員工來研究和評估B2B公司。

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

  · 最終決策集中于個別或少數老員工群體。

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

  · 與投資于軟件相比,企業依靠更多的人雇用商業服務提供商。

  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. 

  · 企業依靠推薦或引薦來收集有關商業服務的信息并評估商業服務,但隨后在采購流程中會求助于供應商資源,如公司網站或銷售代表。

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

  · 另一方面,企業在投資于軟件時最依賴供應商資源,尤其是公司網站。

  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. 

  · 幾乎所有企業都使用過在線評論來幫助做出B2B采購決策,并且最有可能在公司網站上看到評論。

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

  · B2B公司網站上有關成本的透明信息對商業買家而言最為重要。

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

  · 在線評論的有效性-評價來源的信譽度-對商業買家來說最為重要。

  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%). 

  · 企業花在B2B銷售漏斗頂部的時間最多:一半以上的企業至少花一個月時間研究和評估企業服務(52%)和軟件(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,企業在關閉B2B購買流程時行動迅速:超過一半的企業花了一周或更少的時間來決定是否雇用一家商業服務提供商(52%)或投資于軟件(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. 

  · 對大多數企業而言,與以往的經驗相比,聘用商業服務提供商(70%)或投資于軟件(75%)花費同樣的時間。

  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.?”

  遠程技術工具社區平臺Remote.Tools的創始人Karthik Sridharan說:“通常,在購買流程的最初階段,對該行業產品/服務的了解較少。”“【企業】需要更多的時間來理解比較的指標-它是一個特定的特征、價格、客戶支持、等嗎?”

  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采購流程中,有四個或更多的人參與研究商業服務(49%)提供商和軟件(41%)。

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

  · 依靠一個人就做出關于服務(30%)或軟件(37%)的購買決定是比較常見的。

  · 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. 

  · 在過去一年中,參與B2B購買流程的人數變化不大:三分之二的企業(66%)依靠同樣數量的人來雇用商業服務提供商,而四分之三(75%)的企業依靠同樣數量的人來投資軟件。

  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. 

  總部位于波士頓的營銷軟件公司HubSpot的北美合作伙伴專家團隊經理Greg Fung說,B2B購買旅程開始階段的參與人數給企業帶來了壓力,即讓他們選擇一家能夠滿足企業所有利益相關者需求的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."

  “在一個日益復雜的B2B世界中,有越來越多的利益相關者在選擇供應商時進行導航,” Fung說。“事實上,隨著受影響的利益相關者數量的增加,圍繞采購初期的精力也可能會增加。”

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

  “隨著受影響的利益相關者數量的增加,圍繞采購初期的精力也可能會增加。”-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.

  · 三分之二的企業(66%)依靠同樣數量的人來雇用商業服務提供商。

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

  · 四分之三的企業(75%)依靠同樣數量的人投資于軟件。

  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. 

  · 超過一半的35歲以下的商業買家(57%)負責研究和評估軟件,42%負責研究和評估商業服務。

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

  · 負責簽署投資軟件(12%)或雇用商業服務(14%)最終協議的買家很少是35歲以下的人。

  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.”

  · 根據r2integrated的說法,“現代B2B買家通常屬于在數字化環境中成長的千禧一代群體。”

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

  · 根據LinkedIn的說法,“千禧一代正在獲得技術購買委員會的代表權,并在掌握決策權。”

  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. 

  · 在收集有關商業服務信息(55%)和評估(53%)商業服務時,企業最依賴于推薦或引薦。對于比較價格(43%)或對商業服務提供商做出最終決定(43%),企業最主要參考服務提供商的代表。

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

  · 企業最依賴軟件公司的網站來研究(57%)、評估(50%)和比較(48%)軟件的價格。

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

  · 企業所使用的雇用商業服務提供商(30%)和投資于軟件(26%)的資源數量在過去一年有所增加。

  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

  · 同行評價和推薦

  · Online reviews

  · 在線評論

  · Search engines

  · 搜索引擎

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

  · 特定行業內容(如博客、白皮書、市場研究)

  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.

  加州潛在客戶開發公司Cience的首席營銷官Eric Quanstrom說:“確保你的品牌故事,以評論、評級或參考的形式,以盡可能多的形式在盡可能多的相關網站被找到。”。

  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.”

  評論管理平臺Grade.us的內容主管Garrett Sussman說:“你需要在客戶所在的地方與他們相遇。”“有些客戶希望在不與銷售代表交談的情況下進行研究、評估和購買。在這種情況下,你需要用你的拷貝、價值和資源來銷售你的業務。”

  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. 

  · 企業在評價B2B公司網站時,最關心的是有關成本的透明信息(25%)。

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

  · 買家還重視案例研究和其他客戶評價(23%),以及獲得即時反饋,如聊天機器人(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%)

  · 案例研究和其他客戶評價(23%)

  · Immediate access to information (17%)

  · 即時獲取信息(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.

  · 幾乎所有企業(94%)都使用了在線評論來幫助做出B2B采購決策。

  · 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%). 

  · 公司網站(68%)是在線評論最多被參考的來源,領先于搜索引擎評論(61%)以及B2B評級和評論網站(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. 

  · 半數企業(50%)表示,有效性-換句話說,來源的信譽度-是在進行B2B購買決策時在線評論的最重要特征。

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

  · 近一半的企業(47%)在進行B2B購買決策時至少閱讀6條對B2B公司的評論。

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. 

  · 改進搜索引擎優化:在線評論開始占據搜索引擎結果頁面的更多空間,尤其體現在本地搜索結果上。收集和回復評論可以讓商業買家直接訪問有關B2B公司的信息,而不必瀏覽公司網站或等待銷售代表的聯系。

  · 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. 

  · 向客戶逐漸灌輸信任:在線評論提供與B2B公司合作的個人見解,人們認為這些信息比公司資源上列出的信息更客觀。

  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%)

  · 評級或評分(22%)

  · Recency (11%)

  · 客戶最近一次交易時間的間隔(11%)

  · Format or layout (8%)

  · 格式或布局(8%)

  · Length (8%)

  · 長度(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



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