How B2B Software Buyers Use Reviews to Make a Purchase Decision

June 29, 2022
Contributor: Shubham Gupta

Online reviews are a critical part of the B2B software buyer journey, greatly influencing buying behavior and purchase decisions.

Customer reviews are one of the key factors influencing a B2B software buyer's purchase journey. According to the Gartner 2021 SMB Software Buying Behaviors Survey, 66% of software buyers say reviews significantly impact their purchase decision; 85% say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 71% focus on reviews written within the past six months. (Read the survey methodology at the end of the article.)

B2B software buyers frequently visit review sites to determine whether a software platform is worth buying. They seek reviews that are honest and provide accurate information. When asked about the channels they prefer to obtain information about a software solution, 17% of respondents in Gartner Digital Markets’ 2022 Global Software Buyer Trends Survey chose rating/review websites. (Read the survey methodology at the end of the article.)

If you're a software provider looking to convert more prospects, you should know how B2B software buyers use reviews and review sites to make a purchase decision. This will help you tailor your marketing strategy per your target customers and improve your chances of getting in front of them. But before modifying your marketing strategy, you must first understand the B2B software buying process so you know where to focus your efforts.

The B2B software buying process

  • Awareness stage. In this stage, buyers become aware of their need for a certain type of software. They start researching the different types of software options available on the market.
  • Consideration stage. In this stage, buyers narrow down their options and compare different software products. They look at features, prices, reviews and customer testimonials to make a decision.
  • Decision stage. This is the final stage where buyers decide which software to purchase. By this point, they have already read a lot of user reviews and weighed the pros and cons of each software product.

Role of reviews and review sites in B2B software buying

Reviews and review sites play a significant role in the B2B software purchase process. In the awareness stage, reviews make buyers aware of the different software products available on the market. In the consideration stage, reviews help buyers compare and contrast different software products, and in the decision stage, they assist buyers in deciding which software product to purchase.

Reviews can provide valuable insights about a software product, its features and how it performs in real-world scenarios. Review sites such as Capterra, Software Advice and GetApp can be an excellent resource for research, providing comparative data on different software solutions. These sites help potential buyers narrow down their options and find the right fit for their business needs.

Importance of user reviews and review sites

B2B software buyers seek localized reviews

When discussing the roles and importance of user reviews in the B2B software purchasing journey, it's critical to know what software buyers think about localized reviews.

Today, buyers don’t just look for any review — they seek reviews in their primary language. According to the 2022 Global Software Buyer Trends Survey, 33% of buyers say that having user reviews in their native language is very important to their software selection process.

The question is: Why do software buyers want reviews in their native languages? 

Localized reviews add relevance and authenticity as well as catch nuances such as cultural context and dialect that might be lacking in general reviews. Potential buyers are more likely to trust and be influenced by reviews specific to their region or country because they want to see how the software performs in their specific industry/region.

Three types of B2B software buyers

Not all B‌2B ‌software‌ ‌buyers‌ are the same. Each buyer has their own specific needs and requirements. The three main types of B‌2B ‌software buyers are:

  1. Explorers. They are always on the lookout for new software products. They’re curious and like to try out new things. However, they're also very skeptical and not easily convinced. They want to see recent reviews to make a purchase decision.
  2. Comparison shoppers. They are not as adventurous as the explorers and are not easily convinced by marketing hype. They want to see concrete evidence, such as customer testimonials that specifically highlight pricing, features and ease of use, to ensure a software product is worth their money. 
  3. Loyalists. As the name implies, they are loyal to a particular software product or vendor. Compared to comparison shoppers, they are not as price-sensitive and are more interested in a product's reputation. They mainly use reviews to validate their decision to stay with a particular product.

No matter what type of buyer you are dealing with, knowing how they use reviews and review sites during the B2B software purchase process is imperative. It helps you target your marketing efforts better to increase the chances of conversion.

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How global B2B buyers use reviews and review sites to purchase software

As a B2B software provider, reviews are important for your business. But what’s more important is knowing how B2B buyers use reviews when they’re making decisions about buying software. There are a couple of different ways B2B buyers rely on reviews and review sites when making a software purchase decision:

  • Gain information about software products. Review sites provide potential buyers with valuable information about software products, such as their features, pricing, customer testimonials and user reviews. This helps prospects make more informed buying decisions. As a software provider, you can use this information to your advantage by ensuring your software listings are up to date and include all relevant information.
  • See what other customers are saying about a software product. Potential customers want to see what other customers are saying about the software product they intend to buy. By reading reviews from people who have already purchased the software and are using it, prospects get an idea of whether or not the product is worth their investment. As a software provider, make the most out of this information by ensuring you have plenty of positive customer reviews.
  • Compare and contrast different software solutions. When potential buyers look for software, they often use review sites to compare and contrast different products. This helps them narrow down their options and find the best fit for their needs. As a software provider, you can leverage this information to increase visibility among prospects by ensuring your software is listed on as many review sites as possible.
  • Get an unbiased opinion about a software product. Potential buyers trust reviews and review sites because they provide an unbiased opinion about a software product. This is especially helpful for buyers looking for an independent opinion about a software product to determine if it meets their business needs. As a software vendor, ensure your reviews are fair, accurate, honest and transparent so potential customers get an unbiased opinion about your offering.
  • Understand the pros and cons of a software product. By reading reviews, potential buyers get to know the pros and cons of a software product and whether it will fit their needs. This helps them make a more informed decision about whether or not to purchase the software. You can use this to your advantage by ensuring your software listings highlight the unique features and integrations your software offers.

Close more leads by knowing how B2B buyers use reviews

Since you’re in the business of selling software, you should know that reviews can make or break a purchasing decision. And if you're not paying attention to how important reviews and review sites are in your potential customers' buying journey, or how prospects use online reviews and review sites to make a purchase, you are missing out on lots of opportunities to convert valuable leads.

Understand how buyers react to reviews and review sites and fine-tune your marketing efforts accordingly to increase your chances of making a sale. After all, the more you know about your buyers’ thought processes, the better equipped you'll be to close more leads.

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Shubham Gupta

Shubham Gupta is a Content Writer at Gartner Digital Markets who ideates and creates purpose-driven content to help modern technology businesses achieve their goals. Outside of work, he enjoys reading thriller novels and Urdu poetry, as well as spending time with his dog. Connect with Shubham on LinkedIn.

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Gartner’s 2021 SMB Software Buying Behaviors Survey 

This study was conducted to identify the software buying behaviors of small and medium sized business owners in the past twelve months. The research was conducted online from August 2021 to October 2021 among 500 respondents from the U.S., Canada, Spain, France and Germany and from SMBs with revenue less than $250 million and 2-499 employee size.

Respondents were screened for their involvement in software purchasing decisions and those who were Leader/Member of group or had significant influence qualified for the study. The survey was developed collaboratively by a team of Gartner analysts and was reviewed, tested and administered by Gartner’s Research Data and Analytics (RDA) team.

Gartner Digital Markets’ 2022 Global Software Buyer Trends Survey 

Results presented are based on a Gartner Digital Markets study to understand business challenges and approaches to technology and software investments. The primary research was conducted in October 2021 among a total of 2,501 respondents in the following countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Colombia, Belgium, Poland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Germany and France. 

Respondents were screened for having recently purchased technology and decision-making authority. Respondents were required to be responsible for making decisions on purchasing technologies for their organization. 

Disclaimer: Survey results do not represent global findings or the market as a whole, but reflect the sentiment of the respondents and companies surveyed.

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