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The Growing Social Media Influence in B2B buying process

The opportunities offered by social networks to B2B company has confirmed once more by the DemandGen Report “Breaking Out Of The Funnel -  A Look Inside the Mind of the New Generation BtoB Buyer”. The survey, that interested about 100 BtoB buyers who had purchased a business solution or system in the past 12 months, show a deep change in BtoB buying process and buyer’s behaviours.

Buyers, as reported, are no more driven by the BANT process (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing).Project are no more decided on an annual plan but around a business challenge  and the budget is set according to information gathered by peers (79%). More and more (40%) are used to set and get the budget approved after a they determined “the potential impact through other adopters and built a business case for immediate adoption”.

The information gathering is a crucial step., and rarely involves solution provider in the first steps. 78% start with informal information gathering; 59% engage with “peers who had addressed the challenge”;  48% follow industry conversation s on the topic and 44% conduct “anonymous research of a select group of vendors”.  Buyers usually requires solution providers to be quick in information providing. Furthermore, White papers/ebooks play a bigger role as a media channel for info gathering.

Social media also play an important role in the funnel:

  • More than 40% of social media users said they followed discussions/threads to learn more about the topic they were researching;
  • 37% said they posted specific questions on social networking sites looking for feedback on how others solved the specific business challenge;
  • 21% said they connected directly with potential solution providers via social networking channels.

“The majority of social media users said Twitter and LinkedIn influenced their decisions during the “Solution Analysis” and “Problem Identification” phases. Nearly 90% indicated that blogs impacted their research during the “Solution Analysis” phase and 3 in 4 respondents said social bookmarking sites such as Digg and Delicious were utilized during the early Analysis phases.” [DemandGen Report]

Finally, buyers of unbudget project (53%) are also more open to share the experience through blogging, social networks (Linkedin, etc.), or beign a reference/case study for the solution provider.

BtoB organization are required to:

  • listen and respond to the conversations buyers are having in the social mediasphere.
  • connect in social media sphere and  build relationship
  • provide relevant contents for each stage of buying process
  • monitor and track the buying process and connect with buyers having purchasing behavior

The emerging evolution shows a more relevance of inbound marketing than the outbound and the relevance of building relationship. People are the main channel and organization have to be the information provider able to assist the process.

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