August 14, 2019
August 14, 2019
Learn about the 27 steps B2B buyers follow as they make their way along the software buying journey.
Given the importance of the buying experience and how fast the software buying experience is changing, it’s critical that marketing and sales professionals understand how buyers purchase software today.
In recent years, the software buying experience is much improved thanks to three factors.
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While SaaS started out as a way to deliver better products, many of its core principles have migrated into marketing and sales organizations and changed the buyer’s experience with the company. For example, free trials are now common in the software industry but were extremely rare before the emergence of SaaS.
Thanks to the internet, software buyers have access to more information online. They are able to more easily connect with their peers, and can identify and evaluate different options. For example, pricing information is now readily available for most software products — again, something that was uncommon a few years ago.
The fastest-growing software companies borrow heavily from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other big consumer sites when designing their buying experiences, because those are the experiences that buyers want, even in a professional context.
With this much change taking place in the industry, it’s critical that marketing and sales understand exactly how buyers are making purchasing decisions.
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There are five dynamics in the SaaS buying experience that marketing and sales professionals should pay particular attention to.
Our data suggests that buyers are completing a little over 60% of the buying process before engaging a vendor. Sound a little scary? It is, particularly when you understand the next dynamic.
That’s because many SaaS buyers won’t engage in more than one trial. Our data shows this is particularly true in the small and midsize business market where buyers tend to comparison shop less. You need to make sure that buyers find your trial first — and that you don’t squander that opportunity when you get it.
To be certain, the free trial is a major innovation in the software industry. However, while many vendors have cracked the code on making free trials easy to sign up for, there’s still a lot of work to be done on making them easy to use. Setup, configuration and usability issues continue to stymie buyers.
With so much information available and SaaS being a lower-risk investment, many decision-makers are delegating the buying process to others. While the decision-maker may kick off the buying process and make the final decision at the end, someone else is doing the vast majority of the work.
It often surprises marketing and sales that a new decision-maker enters the fray in the last 5% to 10% of the buying experience. This person often needs to be engaged, educated and sold from scratch.
Some of our clients don’t have sales teams — they have order-taking teams. A variety of factors are contributing to this issue. The buyer does a lot of their work on their own now, obviating the need for sales involvement. Furthermore, the trial is such a dominant part of the buying experience that sales simply acts as account management for free trial users.
Finally, in-app e-commerce makes it possible for buyers to close the sale themselves without any help. Order taking isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but it does suggest that these sales organizations could be growing faster if they were actually selling.
What’s the SaaS buying experience really like? Experiences vary, but it’s possible to develop maps for particular markets. For example, we recently mapped the buying experience of a small business thinking about buying customer service software for a client.
We’ve identified 27 distinct steps that the buyer takes as they move from status quo to final decision. Many of these steps can be applied to other software markets as well.
While no buying experience map is perfect, for each major step, the best marketers and salespeople will understand the buyer’s psychology, what information they’re consuming, the interactions they’re having, what’s required to move the buyer to the next step and potential obstacles.
Understanding these as you interact with the buyer will lead to higher conversion rates and more revenue.
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