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In B2B Purchasing, Less May Be More

JUSTINE MURPHY, SENIOR EDITOR, justine.murphy@photonics.com
Aug. 1, 2017

In B2B Purchasing, Less May Be More

Buying decisions are increasingly complex in today’s B2B solutions purchases. More stakeholders are becoming involved in the process, and a growing surplus of information could be overwhelming to buyers. It’s important to arm B2B customers with information and options to make the best decisions, but how much is too much?

Research by CEB Global, an Arlington, Va.-based best practices insight and technology company that works with businesses worldwide, has found that most sales professionals believe that the more information a consumer has, the simpler their decision-making process will be.

However, having a lot of data and many possibilities can muddle the buying process. And it can be further complicated if the number of decision-makers rises. On average, about seven people are involved in a B2B purchase, according to CEB and, while this can be helpful in studying options, it can also add complexity — a company’s purchasing manager may want to perform additional, lengthy competitive analysis, while a CFO might meticulously examine the ROI. Such in-depth review can add time to the process and, subsequently, delay the purchase. It’s an obstacle that an increasing number of buyers are facing, and one that B2B suppliers and sellers may want to help eliminate.

The responsiveness of B2B suppliers and sellers to the needs of their customers can be crucial. Based on those needs, information and possible options can guide decision-making, but too much of it can have a negative effect. In a 2015 CEB report (including a survey of more than 600 B2B buyers), information overload was driving an 18 percent decrease in purchase ease. “Piling on more information and options just makes things harder,” according to CEB.

Too much information can trigger additional searches for even more information to sort through; it could also magnify perceived risks and stakes, and prompt buyers to question the importance of a purchasing decision. Similarly, presenting too many options could raise the opportunity and cost of making a decision, and heighten anxiety and expectations for finding an ideal solution.

Guiding Decisions

A prescriptive approach to customer needs can be more effective, the CEB report states, thus making the entire purchasing process simpler. About 86 percent of companies it surveyed experienced an increase in purchase ease with a guided approach. Deciphering for customers the most pertinent information amid a vast sea of data, as well as determining the most viable options, allows the development of effective buyer strategies.

Many companies are expressing insecurity when it comes to their purchasing decisions. Purchase regret is leading buyers to question their choices, due largely to excess information and too many options. This is where a prescriptive approach by the seller/supplier is key.

A report by Salesforce — a customer relationship management platform that provides cloud-based applications for sales, service and marketing — says that buyers who are overwhelmed are much more likely to question their selections. Some purchasing decisions are deferred because of that uncertainty.

Guiding buyers toward clear, optimal choices can reduce insecurity and potential regret, ultimately bolstering confidence in their decisions.

Categories: ROI, B2B Selling

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