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Technology buyers tend to use multiple resources when researching products, because none are perfectly adequate or trustworthy.
The results are showcased in a report from technology review platform TrustRadius. It studied buyer preferences, vendor impact, and looked at the trust gap in B2B technology.
It conducted research with 438 buyers and 240 vendors. Its B2B Buying Disconnect study wanted to research the vendor perspective, and compare how vendors attempt to influence buyers against how buyers make purchasing decisions.
It found that vendors focus on providing material that buyers do not often use nor find very influential or trustworthy.
Buyers use about five sources of information: Product demos, user reviews, vendor website, free trial, and vendor representatives. Buyers think that a vendor's website and representatives are less trustworthy and less influential than the other sources.
Buyers do not believe that vendors are the right source of information. They want a complete picture of the product before they buy, and consult sources beyond the vendor. They want hands-on product experience, customer insights, and external perspectives.
Less than a quarter of buyers agree to become a customer reference, testimonial, or case study for the vendor they bought from -- even though most are satisfied with the product they purchased.
Just 23 percent of buyers said the vendors they bought from were very influential and engaged with their buyers differently than the rest.
Highly influential vendors were considered to be more open, honest, and responsive. It found the more candid people were about their shortcomings, the more likely potential buyers were likely to trust them and buy them.
The report showed that reviews are an effective and efficient way for vendors to embrace authenticity. They give vendors an opportunity to establish trust and influence with their buyers.
The majority of customers could become brand advocates so vendors can connect their buyers with customer perspectives outside of their usual advocates. Brand advocates could be more than just case-study customers.
If customers are satisfied with their results, they are more likely to be willing to share their success with others so that buyers can get a sense of the range of scenarios for the product, with results alongside challenges. Vendors can then be more authentic and more influential with more of their buyers.
Vinay Bhagat, CEO and founder of TrustRadius, said: "Mainstream sites are plagued with fake and shallow reviews, which might be fine if you're looking for a restaurant, but is unacceptable if you're making a $50,000 purchase."
Bhagat added: "Buyers need a trusted partner in the buying process, especially when vendors are not stepping up. Perhaps one day consumer-facing review sites will follow in our footsteps."
Previous and related coverage
New research today has taken a deeper dive into what types of influencers -- based on follower size -- really do make the most impact amongst their followers.
Word-of-mouth recommendations from influencers effectively turn prospects into customers, who trust the people they interact with on a daily basis.