"Buyers reign supreme." This would be the shortest summary of what we found out about B2B software buyer behavior in 2022 from our survey of 1,002 B2B decision-makers.
Thanks to the endless options in the software marketplace and the power of the internet, B2B software buyers hold all the cards. It’s not just the C-suite anymore deciding on software.
Nowadays, everyone has the power to purchase the tools they want for their business. And they want to shop for software just like they shop for their homes.
Like master chefs carefully handpicking their ingredients to create delectable menus, buyers look for products on the web, research on their own, check reviews, and zero in on their favorite options before even considering getting in touch with the vendors. Very different from how businesses shopped for software a few years ago, right?
For software sellers, the new reality is daunting. However, understanding the changing B2B software as a service (SaaS) buyer behavior is crucial for success in this competitive industry.
In this article, you’ll learn about the four most important B2B software buyer behavior trends with 50+ statistics based on our 2022 G2’s Software Buyer Behavior Report. We'll study how B2B SaaS purchasing decisions are made and explore key factors, influencers, and challenges.
Top takeaways about B2B software buyers
Software spending is set to grow. 55.6% of buyers say their software spending will increase in 2023 compared to 2022.
The B2B buying process is complex. 80% of B2B companies have buying committees that influence software purchasing decisions. 22 distinct roles are involved in the process.
SaaS contracts are shorter. More than half of software contracts are for fewer than 6 months and only 11% last more than two years.
The importance of the vendor’s sales team is declining. 68% of B2B buyers only involve the vendor’s sales team at the last stage of the buying process.
Vendors need to show value quickly. Buyers list simple implementation, a quicker return on investment (ROI), and ease of use as their three most important considerations.
The vendor isn’t the only purchase point. Preference for direct purchases from vendors dropped 9% in 2022 compared to 2021, while purchases from third-party marketplaces and value-added resellers rose by 6% and 4%, respectively.
Online reviews matter. 76% of B2B buyers think product and service review websites are trustworthy.
Renewals are getting trickier. Only 45% of software buyers renew without consideration. 53% research and contemplate alternatives when a product is up for renewal.
Software security has become paramount. 97% of B2B software buyers involve a security stakeholder in their purchasing process.
Trend 1: Software purchases are getting complex
Software is meant to solve a company’s pain points. But recently, purchasing that software has become complicated. Look at what we gleaned from our study that shows how the buyer’s journey is getting complex.
More stakeholders, more steps, more headaches
Today, most businesses have a buying committee and process in place for software purchases. But the number of steps and people involved in the buyers' decision process is expanding. New stakeholders also keep joining the process, and the decision-maker changes frequently.
As a result of the ever-expanding cast of characters, each step in the buying process – from initial research and vendor evaluation to product demos and negotiations – requires careful consideration and input from multiple parties.
This makes reaching a consensus difficult. Conflicts and disagreements arise as various people bring their unique perspectives and agendas to the table.
For example, consider a company buying a marketing automation tool. Sellers must deal with C-suite executives, department leads, internal influencers, IT, legal team members, and the all-important end user as part of a company’s buying decision process.
In this case, the IT department prioritizes security features and privacy concerns, while the marketing department focuses on simple functionalities and operational efficiency. The finance department wants to know about the total cost of ownership and the tool's ROI. The difference in priorities results in opposing opinions that create tension between the teams and impede decision-making.
All this makes the process overwhelming, leaving buyers frozen.
Statistics reflect these changes and complexities.
80% of companies have a buying committee that makes software purchase decisions.
About a third of software buyers say their company’s buying process had 10 or more steps in 2022, an increase of 8% from 2021.
22 distinct roles play a role in a software purchase process.
Nearly 80% say that the final decision is always or frequently consensus-based.
20% of companies lack an official software buying process. This figure goes up to 23% in European, Middle Eastern, and African regions (EMEA) and 25% in Asian-Pacific (APAC) areas.
C-suite leaders are stepping up as final decision-makers
Another trend we see is a gradual shift in final decision-making authority from technical IT teams to C-suite executives. Traditionally, IT departments have played a central role in purchasing and implementing new technology. But now, C-suite executives increasingly influence software purchases as they focus on accelerating their digital transformation.
of buyers consider C-suite executives to be the final decision-makers on software purchases, a rise of 7% from 2021.
Furthermore, we have many cloud-based SaaS solutions and no-code or low-code technologies that require no expertise for set-up and maintenance. Since they’re easy to find and use, buyers are gradually moving away from involving the IT department in their software purchases.
33% of software buyers consider the IT department the final decision-maker for software purchases. That number is down by 10% from 2021, showing IT’s decreasing impact.
19% of buyers consider the department leads to be the final decision-maker for software purchases.
Most B2B buying takes fewer than six months
Usually, software purchases take time, from researching different options to talking with vendors to testing the features to signing a contract. However, buyers are speeding up the process.
More than 80% of buyers need fewer than six months to make a software purchase decision of $20,000 or more.
Nearly 39% of buyers take 1-3 months to make a purchase decision.
About a third take 4-6 months to complete a purchase worth $20,000 or more.
Just 3% of B2B buyers, comprising mostly enterprise and mid-sized companies, need more than a year to decide on a software purchase.
Software contracts are getting shorter
Monthly subscriptions are no longer just for Netflix and Spotify. SaaS buyers are also moving toward short-term contracts, avoiding multi-year deals. The trend reflects a broader shift in the B2B industry toward greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness in software purchasing.
of software contracts are for six months or fewer.
Only 2 out of 10 customers go for a contract of 1 year.
Just 11% of contracts are for 2 years or more.
By avoiding multi-year deals, B2B businesses benefit from reduced upfront costs and better service from SaaS vendors. They can test the technology before making a significant financial investment and enjoy the agility of switching vendors in response to changing needs or market conditions.
However, for vendors, the absence of multi-year deals means the buyer journey is never complete, even after signing the contract and onboarding the customers. Vendors must constantly deliver value and provide excellent customer experience to secure renewals and reduce churn rate.
Software suites and existing vendors get an advantage
B2B buyers don’t want to stitch together different apps and hope they’ll work. They’re more inclined toward buying an all-in-one solution or an additional product from an existing vendor than dealing with new ones. This gives sales teams many opportunities to upsell and cross-sell additional features and product rollouts to their customers.
82% of B2B buyers agree or strongly agree that they would prefer to buy software solutions that solve multiple business problems than purchase multiple solutions individually.
78% of buyers agree or strongly agree that they would like to buy complementary products from an existing vendor rather than work with multiple vendors.
New buying destinations: marketplaces and resellers
Customers are changing where they buy their software, purchasing from vendors less and moving toward third-party marketplaces and resellers to look for value-adds like consultations, support, or deals.
Buyers purchasing tech tools directly from vendors declined 9% to 60%.
28% of buyers prefer third-party marketplaces for their preferred point of software purchases, a 6% increase.
The number of buyers who prefer to purchase from value-added resellers rose from 7% to 11%.
40% of buyers note they outsource procurement for about 11-25% of their software purchases.
Searching for credible information: the biggest obstacle in the buying journey
Today’s B2B buyers consume a wide range of information before making a purchase. In the earlier stages of their buying journey, aka the awareness and exploration stage, they want to know more about their problem and which software can solve it.
As they move forward in the buying journey to the consideration and decision-making stage, they want materials that support and validate their conclusions, like customer testimonials or reviews. The biggest hindrance buyers have is finding this information.
21% of buyers say that finding good customer references is their biggest obstacle to good SaaS purchase decisions.
18% think lack of knowledge of vendor’s offerings is their biggest obstacle.
Another 17% say the inability to get credible content is their main challenge.
Lack of reviews on products/services from people in the industry is also an obstacle for 9% of buyers.
This may come as a surprise to sellers because software vendors have been working to provide as much information as possible via their websites, sales, and marketing channels. However, it also coincides with the increasing distrust of vendor-provided resources.
From a buyer’s perspective, this search for elusive, high-quality information from other buyers simply highlights that they have higher expectations about the quality of information they get from vendors. They don’t want promotional material but rather credible content that helps them progress along the software purchase path.
Trend 2: Vendors, beware: buyers are taking control
Software buyers are now increasingly wary of vendors' resources and are looking for other credible, independent sources of information. They gather data from their peers, professional networks, and market reports. They also look at user-generated content via review sites, online communities, and social media platforms. Here’s what we found about this trend from our survey.
Buyers are no longer solely dependent on vendors’ resources
Despite the best efforts of software vendors to be customer-centric, buyers are looking for ways to bypass the relationship in an ironic twist. Take a look at the statistics that prove this.
In 2022, the use of vendor websites as the initial source of information decreased from 65% to 60%.
Only one in three buyers consider vendor websites as the information source they trust most when making major purchasing decisions, a decrease of 5% in 2022 from 2021.
Only about 10% of B2B buyers consider vendor-supplied content as the most influential factor for their purchase decision.
Buyers are also moving away from the sales team because they desire greater control and independence in the purchase process. By the time they reach out, the buyers are already halfway there.
of software buyers wait to engage the sales team until the last stage of purchase.
More than 60% of buyers agree or strongly agree that the vendor’s sales team isn’t involved in the research phase of their purchase process.
The use of the sales team as the initial source of information on software went down from 44% to 40% in 2022.
Fewer than 3% of software buyers consider the vendor’s salesperson influential in their purchase decisions.
However, 75% of buyers say that sales should proactively engage earlier with relevant information.
The findings highlight that sales can no longer dictate how the customer’s buying journey progresses. Instead, buyers are taking responsibility by independently researching.
Peer power: trusted peers carry weight
As the trust gap between buyers and vendors widens, buyers are increasingly asking trusted sources, aka peers and industry experts, for advice on software purchases. Buyers consider these sources more reliable as they tend to have firsthand experience with the software and provide impartial opinions on it.
More than a third of B2B software buyers consult their peers and colleagues for initial info about software or service they’re interested in.
34% of buyers turn to professional organizations as they begin their research on software or services.
27% of buyers also take to market research firms and analysts.
24% consider their professional network’s insight influential on their buying decision.
27.6% of buyers consider industry experts influential in their purchase process.
Review sites and online communities are valued
Review sites and online communities are also gaining prominence among buyers as they try to increase their confidence and reduce risk when making high-stakes software purchase decisions.
Think about it. You’re part of a buying committee that needs an email marketing solution. You find two products that meet your requirements. One has 12,000+ reviews and a 4.7-star rating, while the other has 100+ reviews and a 3-star rating.
What would you choose? Reviews and discussions on online communities serve as valuable social proof for buyers here.
of software buyers use review sites like G2 for gathering information, recommendations, and referrals for software products or services they are interested in.
In 2022, 18% of buyers used product review sites like G2 as the initial source of information, an increase of 5% from 2021.
76% of B2B software buyers think that product and service review websites are trustworthy or highly trustworthy.
One in two buyers feels better educated on the benefits and risks of purchasing software and more confident in the buying decision when using online review sites.
22% of buyers use social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for initial information on a tool or service.
Trend 3: Buyers look beyond features when purchasing
47.6% of buyers typically shortlist 3-5 products during a software purchase process. So what factors do buyers consider when selecting the product from the shortlist? We asked buyers, and this is what they told us.
They care more about the ease of use, implementation, quality of customer support, and ROI than the number of features it has or its pricing. Their buying considerations indicate buyers want to see value early on.
88% of software buyers view ease of use as an important or very important factor influencing their purchase decision.
87% of buyers consider it important or very important to get ROI within a year of buying a software product.
86% regard simple implementation as an important or very important buying consideration.
In fact, 77% of buyers have worked with either the vendor’s team or a third-party implementation service provider for a software set-up post-purchase.
87% also see the quality of customer support as an important or very important factor influencing their purchase decision.
Similarly, today's software buyers do not disregard security.
of tech buyers say the level of security software provides is either important or very important.
Trend 4: Buyers are wary even after they sign the dotted line
Imagine a buying committee with a shortlist of products. They compare the products based on needs, weigh their functionalities, get peer reviews, talk with vendors, try free trials, and finally decide on one software solution. If you think their journey ends here, you’re wrong.
With shorter contracts becoming the norm in the software world, B2B tech buyers are no longer tied to a vendor for a prolonged period. And with numerous alternatives and lower-than-ever switching costs, tech buyers are more open to exploring other options when their software contract is up for renewal. Check out how B2B businesses approach their software contract renewals.
Buyers approach renewals systematically and with purpose
Buyers have a solid process when it comes to the factors they consider before making a renewal decision. During the renewal process, they evaluate whether they got adequate support from the vendor and gauge whether users are satisfied with how the tool is used.
7 out of 10 buyers have a formal process for software contract renewals.
53% of B2B tech buyers conduct research and consider options when a product is up for renewal.
of B2B customers indicate that the quality of the software implementation process is important or very important when deciding to renew a product.
56% of B2B software buyers consider how much the users like the product.
Nearly 50% of buyers look at how well the product is used and how critical the software is for users’ work role.
A third of buyers look at the percentage of users logging into and using the software when considering renewals.
4 out of 10 buyers think about how expensive the tool is when deciding on renewal.
However, a considerable number of buyers – 45% – are inclined to renew their contracts without even thinking about other choices. This suggests that these buyers may be loyal to their current software provider and are happy with the value they deliver.
Related: Don’t know how to manage your SaaS contracts and renewals? Get G2 Track now to handle your SaaS with ease.
So…what should sellers do?
First, software vendors must recognize this new reality and recognize how difficult buying has become. They need to understand customers as people and offer them the resources that help complete this arduous task. A few steps are sure to ease the buyer’s journey and win them over to your side.
Personalize your messages
To deal with multiple stakeholders in the buying process, sellers need to identify the key decision-makers involved right away. Personalize any communication between you and individual decision-makers or influencers for specific accounts. After all, selling software to C-suite execs, the marketing team, and an IT member are very different tasks, even if they’re from the same company.
Make information accessible
Sellers should spread information about their products transparently and ensure it’s consistent over platforms, targeted to a particular buyer’s persona, and shareable across multiple channels. For instance, add details about pricing, features, implementation timelines, and integrations on product-specific web pages. Include case studies about how the product helped the customers and highlight ROI data.
At the same time, improve your content marketing efforts. Dive into your buyer content preferences. Interview or survey your current customers or use analytics to identify the materials helping your customers the most. Tap into the findings to enhance your content strategy.
Let the sales team guide the way
Buyers don’t want to hear a sales pitch. At the same time, they aren’t entirely averse to talking to the sales team. Sales have to balance the limited time they get with buyers to show product and service value. For this, sales reps should know precisely where buyers are on their journey, spot problems they might encounter, and provide interventions to ease the buyer decision process. And they gotta do it without being pushy.
Buyers’ issues range from information challenges to conflicts with key decision-makers or disagreements on the implementation plan. Sales reps should act more as consultants and provide targeted actions supported by industry-specific data. They should also share similar case studies of customers who have overcome similar difficulties to inspire confidence. Showing buyers how to buy rather than telling them what they should buy simplifies the purchase and drives sales.
Deliver value and make your buyers your sellers
Once you win a customer, always give them top-notch customer service and call attention to their return on investment sooner rather than later to keep them satisfied. Help them adopt the software and make sure they use it effectively.
When you ask them for feedback, you make your customers feel heard. Use that info and that trust to enhance your product. It can be as simple as adding a feature that automatically downloads reports or as involved as overhauling the user interface to make it easier for a client.
Securing renewals and building customer loyalty only happens when you satisfy your current base. Your happy customers are more likely to recommend your product to others, effectively becoming your brand advocates and helping you expand your audience.
Get in your buyers' era
B2B buyers control the software purchase process today more than ever. They want things that are easy to buy and easy to use. As a software vendor, adapt your sales and marketing strategies to suit this reality. Ease their pain during the buying journey, and you’ll win many happy customers who will elevate your brand for you.
Soundarya Jayaraman is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2, focusing on cybersecurity. Formerly a reporter, Soundarya now covers the evolving cybersecurity landscape, how it affects businesses and individuals, and how technology can help. You can find her extensive writings on cloud security and zero-day attacks. When not writing, you can find her painting or reading.
Know your buyers with G2
Explore the G2 buyer behavior report to know more about today's software buyers and stay ahead of the curve in the crowded SaaS market!
Top 4 B2B Software Buyer Behavior Trends for 2023Explore the four emerging B2B software buyer behavior trends based on our 2022 buyer behavior report and learn to win over your customers in 2023.https://learn.g2.com/software-buyer-behavior-trendshttps://learn.g2.com/hubfs/G2CM_FI508_Learn_Article_Images_%5Bbuyer_behavior_statistics%5D_V1b-1.png2023-04-21 19:35:22Z
Soundarya JayaramanSoundarya Jayaraman is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2, focusing on cybersecurity. Formerly a reporter, Soundarya now covers the evolving cybersecurity landscape, how it affects businesses and individuals, and how technology can help. You can find her extensive writings on cloud security and zero-day attacks. When not writing, you can find her painting or reading.https://learn.g2.com/author/soundarya-jayaramanhttps://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Soundarya%20G2%20Profile%20Picture.jpghttps://www.linkedin.com/in/soundaryaj/
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