How risk averse buyers make buying decisions
How risk averse buyers make buying decisions

Selling is hard. But selling to risk-averse B2B buyers is even harder.

This is becoming an even bigger challenge as internal selling is becoming tougher, buying committees are growing, and the C-suite is focusing more and more on ROI.

The good news though?

“Budgets haven’t gone away. Purchasing is still absolutely happening,” according to Meghan Headley, the VP of Research at TrustRadius who sat down with us to talk about the changing buyer journey.

Watch the full webinar here to get an in-depth look into the latest data about how buyers are making their B2B buying decisions today. We also got SkillSurvey’s Chief Revenue Officer, John Routhier to share his perspective from the buyer’s lens.

Overall, we found that buyers are tapping into their past experiences of having used a product to guide their decisions.

For salespeople, this means they need to proactively engage and sell to their alumni customers. 

Thankfully, with UserGems, you can automatically track buyer job changes and get a list of warm lists to target every month. Request a demo here

What you’ll learn in this webinar

Use these timestamps to jump to the sections that interest you the most:

  • 06:11: How the buying environment is changing
  • 09:54: What factors are influencing B2B buying decisions (based on TrustRadius’ research)
  • 14:14: What sales teams can do to convert risk-averse buyers
  • 23:05: UserGems’ internal research on targeting warm leads to increase close rate
  • 23:13: How buyers are on the buying — from the buyer’s perspective
  • 33:15: SkillSurvey’s playbook for selling to risk-averse B2B buyers 

Uncovering the buyer mindset: What the latest buyer’s survey reveals

According to TrustRadius’ 2023 B2B Buying Disconnect Report, buyers are relying more on their past experiences than ever before to make their buying decisions.

Here’s a quick overview of the ways the B2B buyer’s journey is changing:

Buyers are becoming more ROI-oriented and self-sufficient

Tighter budgets mean B2B buyers are “making sure that what they’re […] buying are absolutely the right, mission critical products that are going to deliver ROI,” shared Meghan from TrustRadius.

One of the ways buyers are ensuring the tools they choose will drive ROI is by doing extensive internal research upfront. Surprisingly, all this happens before the interested buyer ever reaches out to a salesperson.

Convincing the CFO is getting harder

Since CFOs now have a tighter hold on the budget, it’s getting harder for potential buyers to prove they’re selecting the right tools to invest in.

As a result, buying decisions are taking longer as teams spend more time evaluating the tool and justifying their choice.

What’s more, the number of stakeholders involved is growing as more people become part of the decision-making process.  

In fact, TrustRadius’ report reveals:

  • 43% of buyers need more information today to justify any new purchase
  • 27% of buyers take longer to complete a purchase
  • 27% of buyers have more decision makers involved in their purchase process
  • 14% of buyers have a higher number of C-level decision makers to answer to
CFOs are more important than ever

Buyers are leaning heavily on past experiences

Today, during the buying process, B2B purchases are being made based on past experiences with tools companies have used before 

In the past, this wasn’t as high on the list of factors influencing buyer decisions. But in 2023, as B2B buyers are becoming more risk-averse, previous experience with a tool has moved up by 31%.

In fact, it’s now in the top three factors guiding B2B buying with 51% of respondents saying they refer to their past experiences to inform their purchase decisions.

This makes sense since it helps interested folks:

  • Prove the worth and potential ROI of investing in a specific tool
  • Justify their decision, making convincing the C-suite that much easier

The best part? These TrustRadius findings align with data from part 1 of our Hidden Gems series which confirms that targeting past customers provides sales reps with:

  • 114% higher win rates
  • 54% bigger deal sizes
  • 12% shorter sales cycles
previous customers can impact your pipeline and revenue

Risk-averse buying from a buyer’s lens

In the webinar, we also invited John Routhier from SkillSurvey to understand how B2B buyers are making decisions and what’s changing internally. 

John noted that previously, the buying journey was relatively easy with teams having their own budgets. They’d decide what to invest in based on their priorities.

However, “Where it used to be the business unit priorities […] we’re [now] seeing a little bit difference where it’s more now [about] how does the budget and the spend impact the whole organization. So that’s a little bit of a mind shift [and the decision] has to align.”

John also confirmed there are now:

  • More in-depth internal checks
  • Larger buying committees
  • Longer timelines when it comes to making a purchase decision

“Now it goes to multiple layers of approval. You know seeing more in-depth internal security reviews, legal reviews. Just a longer process […] checking all the boxes, going a little bit slower, being a little bit more patient and methodical versus quickly making a decision and making that purchase,” he says.

What vendors need to do to convince risk-averse B2B buyers

The key to closing more deals today is providing B2B buyers with the resources they need to make a decision. But TrustRadius’ data shows there’s a gap between three resources that buyers are looking for that B2B companies aren’t offering. These are:

  • Free product trials
  • User reviews
  • Past experiences

For example, only 27% of vendors or sales teams are reengaging their past customers (or Gems, as we call them here at UserGems). However, 72% of buyers are using their past experiences to guide their buying decisions.

What are vendors doing to meet buyers

Based on this data, here’s what sellers need to do. 

1. Position your product as a must-have

Understand which itch your product scratches. 

This isn’t possible without an in-depth understanding of your target personas. Research their pain points, then make notes about how your product solves them.

As you refine your product positioning, leverage peer reviews and case studies as social proof to position your tool as a must-have solution for the problem your potential customers are facing.

2. Go after champions or past customers

Use champion tracking to find alumni customers or Gems who have switched to new companies. 

Since these folks have previously used your product, they’re more likely to connect and explore investing in your product again — providing you with a warm path into a target account.

The key is to take a proactive approach because Gems rarely return on their own. In fact, data from part 2 of our Hidden Gems series confirms that 91% of previous champions don’t return — even after 90 days in a new role.

91% of former buyers don't come back on their own

What can you do? Leverage a B2B prospecting tool like UserGems to track buyer job changes. This way, you can proactively reach out to and remind alumni customers about their previous experience with your tool and stay top of mind.

Bonus tip: Offer free product trials to make it easy for Gems to share how your product works with their new teams. Also, don’t forget to use case studies in your conversations to demonstrate the ROI you can deliver. 

3. Multithread to convince stakeholders

Sales multithreading or connecting with multiple people within a buying committee lets you help Gems convince their team to buy your tool.

In addition to getting in touch with champions, ask them to connect you to other members on the buying committee.

You can also run social media ads such as LinkedIn ads targeting the C-suite. At UserGems, we ran this playbook which increased our win rates by 31% and shortened the sales process by 17%.

UserGems LinkedIn ABM ads for sales multithreading

 4. Arm interested buyers with all the information they need

Create a digital B2B salesroom or a central resource that buying committees can use to access all the information they need when they need it.

Make sure you add security-related information as well as product resources in this sales room.

“So legal can log in there [to see] a legal folder with all the information in there. Security can log in there,” explains John.

“It makes it much more efficient, methodical, easier, and no one can go ‘geez, I can’t find that document you sent me’ or, ‘hey, I still need your SOC type two.’ It’s all in a digital sales room.

That makes it much easier for the buy-in. And buyers love that too [as] they don’t need to go fishing and searching.”

SkillSurvey’s playbook to win B2B risk-averse buyers

Toward the end of the webinar, John also shared SkillSurvey’s playbook for selling that gets them a 20% response rate.

Skillsurvey's previous champion playbook

It all starts with champion tracking through UserGems.

On the 15th of every month, UserGems gives SkillSurvey’s team a list of past customers to target. John calls this time “Christmas” because of the excitement that comes from warm leads’ responses pouring in like “presents.” 

Once the list is in, it goes through an automated sequence of personalized emails — congratulating champions on their new jobs. The response rate? 20% within 24 hours. BDRs then jump in to book meetings. 

Want to boost your own response rates and generate more warm leads? Find out how UserGems can help with a free demo.

Resources to win the risk-averse decision-makers:

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