• The B2B buying process has always been complicated, but the past year has brought additional challenges with nearly every buying interaction being remote
  • Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study, with more than 950 respondents from around the world, reveals significant changes in buying behavior
  • More people, more buying interactions, and more complexity might create additional challenges for providers

While the pandemic created new challenges for remote working, remote selling and purchasing also tested sellers and buyers. Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study reveals how buyers responded to the new norm of being mostly virtual while seeking information about providers and their offerings before making a purchase.

The Word “Buyers” Now Means A Buying Group

Despite most buyers working remotely, this year has catapulted the buying group to the forefront. Independent buying scenarios, in which only one or two people are involved, are getting harder to find. Now 63% of purchases have more than four people involved — vs. just 47% in 2017 — and they can include different buyer roles — champions, influencers, decision makers, users, or ratifiers — from multiple departments.

The Number Of Buying Interactions Jumped By 10

Although the number of buying interactions has been increasing slightly every two years (e.g., from 16 to 17 between 2017 and 2019), the number of buying interactions during the pandemic jumped from 17 to 27! The number of buying interactions reflects one individual’s buying journey to obtain information about competing offerings or providers. In the total number, we include self-guided interactions (mostly done by research via the internet) and personal interactions, which refer to a conversation with a person, from either a provider company or third party. Almost all of these conversations took place virtually last year.

Buyers Go Everywhere For Information

With the sprawl of the internet and the plethora of content from providers and industry gurus, buyers can find information about B2B products and services almost anywhere — and they did. Despite the pandemic, they still looked for one-to-many forums like webinars and online events to learn about the category, what other people are doing in the industry, and who the top contenders are. They talked to peers, industry experts, and various provider representatives to get their specific questions answered. They also did a lot of self-directed research checking all sorts of sources, from social media to syndicated content to category- or industry-specific resources.

These are just a few of the dramatic findings that my colleague Barbara Winters and I will share at our upcoming Summit presentation on May 3, “B2B Buyer Trends: How Buying Behaviors And Preferences Are Shifting.” Join us and we promise to give you some ideas on how to handle these rapidly changing buyer behaviors, too.