Sales leaders are challenged in today’s information-rich buying environment to engage productively with B2B buyers and secure quality deals that purchasers don’t regret. But Gartner research shows another piece of the information puzzle: There isn’t just a surplus of information — buyers are awash in good information.
"Information that once enabled customers to forego meeting with a sales rep has now made it significantly harder for B2B buyers to make an effective decision on their own," says Cristina Gomez, Practice Vice President at Gartner. Eighty-nine percent of B2B buyers indicate that the information they encountered during the purchase process was of high quality.
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Value of information relates to both quality and quantity
High-quality information may not differentiate suppliers, but it is still important. In fact, information quality increases the likelihood of winning a high-quality, low-regret deal by 26%. This type of deal is a large, complex solution where the customer doesn’t settle for a smaller, cheaper option or status quo, and at the same time, doesn’t feel bad or regret the purchase.
But Gartner data also shows that while high-quality information helps customers up to a point, three other information attributes can actually reduce the likelihood of a customer completing a high-quality, low-regret purchase.
These three negatives are:
- when customers experience an overwhelming amount of information (even if it's trustworthy).
- when the information seems trustworthy but contradictory.
- when the information makes it harder to conduct vendor trade-offs.
These factors are also cumulative: If customers experience them all at once, they are 153% less likely to choose a high-quality, low-regret deal.
Two customer sentiments, however, positively influence purchases: customer confidence in the information they encounter and customer skepticism of the seller.
B2B buyers want information that builds their decision confidence
In Gartner research, customers indicate that they are confident in information when they feel they have:
- determined the right questions to consider for themselves and to ask suppliers.
- identified which information mattered most in their purchase decision.
- identified consistent patterns or themes in the information they encountered during the purchase.
Customers were skeptical of sellers when they:
- did not trust the seller to disclose all the relevant information they needed to make purchase decisions.
- were specifically skeptical of the claims made by the seller.
Customers who reported seller skepticism were 164% less likely to choose a high-quality, low-regret deal, while customers who felt confident in the information they encountered were 157% more likely to purchase.
Sense Making sellers build confidence and reduce skepticism
If a customer with increased confidence and decreased skepticism is more likely to choose a high-quality, low-regret deal, then CSOs face a commercial imperative to identify the seller approach — distinct behaviors, skills and attitudes — that most effectively does that.
The Gartner Sense Making approach is predicated on the careful sharing of information to guide customers toward a clearer, more rationalized view of the purchase decision.
Sense Making sellers using this approach help customers prioritize various sources of information, quantify trade-offs and reconcile conflicting information. They also reduce the skepticism buyers have toward them and increase the confidence buyers have in their purchase decision — increasing the likelihood of account sales growth.
This article has been updated from the 2019 original to reflect new events, conditions and research.