Buyer Transformation: What Today’s B2B Buyers Want

What do today’s B2B buyers want? It’s a complicated question. But getting to the heart of B2B buyer preferences is essential for building an effective Cloud go-to-market campaign.  

Anna Baird, CRO at Outreach; Dai Vu, Managing Director of Cloud Marketplaces and Business Initiatives at Google; and Godard Abel, CEO at G2 explored some of the challenges and opportunities for understanding buyer preferences in a panel discussion during Tackle’s Cloud GTM XP event.


Buyers lack trust in software vendors

Earning the buyer’s trust is critical for software companies. In fact, according to a 2021 survey conducted by G2, 94% of buyers don’t trust software vendors, sales, or marketing teams. 

Creating trust begins with the culture of the company itself: A “values-driven” company will build trust more successfully. This type of company will have a code of ethics and integrity baked into the mission, re-iterated and fully supported from the top down. Beyond that, companies should create a foundation of trust for the buyer through solid data security and privacy policies.

Read More: The New Rules of B2B Software Marketing


Today’s buyers make collaborative decisions, crave simplicity, and want a consumer-based approach

A growing segment of today’s software buyers are Millennials, “digital natives” who have grown up with the Internet and the ability to quickly and easily make online purchases. “They buy differently, they’re more collaborative, often with multiple stakeholders involved creating much larger buying committees,” said Anna. “So you have to understand how to engage all of those multiple stakeholders in the buying process and collaborate with them.”

Software buyer personas have evolved as well. In previous years, the CIO might be the primary decision-maker for software purchases, but nowadays that decision can be made at many other levels within the company. “It’s no longer executives making decisions on cloud services,” said Godard, who noted that the larger technical teams now making cloud buying decisions also want to try products before committing to a purchase. “Technical experts really want to get their hands on the product,” he said. “I also think the Marketplace has now made it easier to provision trials. Without that, it’s going to be really hard to close any deal.”

The software buying experience is also trending toward a more consumer-based approach, where the buyer conducts their own research before making a purchase, similar to the way consumers read reviews and compare products on Amazon before making a purchase. “Consumers want to collect their own information, and I think if you try to gate white papers and other things like we did 10 or 20 years ago, that’s really not going to work because you’re just going to turn off the buyer,” said Godard.

Software companies can optimize sales efforts by employing “hubs” for buyers to access information such as demo videos and security documents about products as they progress through the buying journey. “Inviting CIOs, procurement, revenue operations, and whomever else is involved in the buying cycle into that environment helps them self-educate,” said Anna.


Marketplaces are meeting the challenge

“The gross dollar value of transactions flowing through Google Cloud Marketplace has grown by greater than 500% year over year.”

Marketplaces have continued to grow significantly, with Tackle’s 2021 State of Cloud Marketplaces Report predicting that Cloud Marketplaces will exceed $50 billion by 2025.

The growth of GCP mirrors that trend, specifically over the last 12 to 18 months, with Dai noting that the gross dollar value of transactions flowing through Google Cloud Marketplace has grown by greater than 500% year over year. 

GCP (as well as the other Cloud Providers) recognize the enormous potential of Marketplaces and have taken notable steps to build Marketplace business and evolve the B2B buying experience. 

Read More: 3 Reasons Buyers Are Flocking to Cloud Marketplaces in 2022

“If you’re procuring software through an existing cloud provider where the customer is already spending, it can really speed up the process significantly.” – Dai Vu, Google

Cloud Marketplaces can greatly simplify software procurement through access to existing relationships and cloud budgets. “If you’re procuring software through an existing cloud provider where the customer is already spending, it can really speed up the process significantly,” said Dai. “You’re basically just integrating that software procurement into a growing cloud budget.”

For example,  if GCP is already an approved customer preferred vendor, a buyer can purchase third-party software on the Marketplace without the need to conduct an additional vendor review. This creates a scalable and repeatable procurement process, with assurance that the deployment is vetted and integrated with Google Cloud.


How ISVs are addressing and understanding buyer preferences

Software companies are becoming more adept at employing technologies to track and analyze buying signals and knowing when it’s appropriate to take certain actions (directing potential buyers to a video, rather than scheduling a meeting, for example.) Armed with this kind of data, software companies have improved how (and when) to engage buyers.    

“Getting a system where you can track your customer’s engagement across stakeholders is super critical.” – Godard Abel, G2

Engaging modern buyers also requires a more proactive approach to selling. “How are you understanding not just the customer journey of the initial buying cycle, but their journey on that next phase of the expansion and renewal cycle?” said Anna. 

In essence, driving adoption and expansion comes down to a thorough understanding of who the buyers are, and when they want to buy – which means metrics are absolutely essential. “I think the nice thing with most of us selling cloud solutions, is that we can measure that,” said Godard. “We can measure it digitally pre- and post-sale. Getting a system where you can track your customer’s engagement across stakeholders is super critical.” 


Re-examine and reconfigure the buyer’s journey

When looking at how a buyer progresses through the purchase journey, it’s critical to look at the entire process from start to finish and consider it holistically in order to ease as many friction points as possible. “You can create an amazing entry point where a buyer can get in through a self-service or a sandbox capability, but you do need to look at that buyer experience all the way through to paying their invoice,” said Anna.  

Any speed bumps along the buyer journey can negatively affect expansion and renewals as well, so it’s imperative to continually monitor the buyer’s journey for potential hiccups. 

Read More: Organizing for Marketplace Success

Bringing in different business functions early on in the journey is also paramount to reach today’s buyer. In the past, security and legal teams might join the process toward the end, but that’s no longer adequate. To better reach today’s buyer, the business case for your software needs to be presented to an ever-larger group of stakeholders, with whom you’ll be working collaboratively.   


What’s next?

It’s always difficult to make predictions, but one thing is clear: Marketplaces will continue to expand and grow, and will become the preferred way to purchase software. The Marketplaces support the trends toward a self-service transaction model between discovery, trial, purchase, and deployment.

Despite the evolution of the buying journey, some challenges remain. “Today, if you look at these procurement-sourcing vendor management functions that are still in a large number of companies, they act like the gatekeepers. I think what needs to happen is they need to evolve,” said Dai. “I do believe that we’ll get to this model of true self-serve across the full life cycle.”

“I think there’s a revolution happening for go-to-market teams, with the insights and technology that is available to help those teams really change the customer experience,” said Anna. “I think it’s an exciting time to be part of a good market organization.”

To see how Tackle can help you get listed and scale your Cloud Marketplace revenue, schedule a demo.