Selecting a B2B Supplier: The Important Decision Points

A recent study on the B2B buying process uncovered an interesting dichotomy. B2B purchasers use a different set of variables to evaluate suppliers than they do to select the winning supplier.1 Let’s take a look.

The Top 4 variables used when evaluating solution providers:

  • Pricing – 82%
  • Features/functionality – 60%
  • Product/service reviews – 58%
  • Vendor experience/knowledge of buyer’s industry – 54%

But when it came to choosing the winning vendor, the Top 4 criteria were quite different:

  • Demonstrated stronger knowledge of the solution area and business landscape – 65%
  • Demonstrated stronger knowledge of buyer’s company and needs – 65%
  • Provided better mix of content to help buyer through each stage of research and decision making – 55%
  • Provided higher-quality content – 53%

B2B Buying Cycles Are Lengthening

The study also found that B2B buyers are extending their purchasing cycles. More than half of the respondents said their buying processes had increased somewhat or significantly over the last 12 months.

TW’s Take

Not surprisingly, price and features/functionality were the most valued attributes at the research and evaluation stage of the buying process. Vendor parity in these attributes is essential to gain access to the playing field. But when it comes to winning the business, industry and company knowledge were cited as most important, followed by content value. The study revealed the criticality of the supplier’s content and messaging. Vendors must demonstrate specific expertise in solving the prospect’s problems and pain points. Whether delivered through lead nurturing programs and/or direct sales presentations, high-value content is the best way to communicate your industry/customer knowledge.

We are not surprised by the lengthening of B2B buying cycles. With most non-production employees working from home during the pandemic, information gathering, evaluation meetings, and executive approvals are requiring more time than ever before. This environment is also putting greater emphasis on marketing and sales strategies that do not rely on personal contact.

1 Source: 2021 B2B Buyers Survey Report, DemandGen, June 2021.