New ITSMA Study Identifies the Rise of the B2B Social Buyer

ITSMA’s 2011 How Buyers Choose Solutions Providers survey highlights the growing use of social media and online information sources among buyers who are researching potential providers of IT Services, IT Solutions, Outsourcing, and Consulting.
Dec. 8, 2011 - PRLog -- The new ITSMA study “How Buyers Consume Information” revealed significant shifts in behavior among purchasers of large B2B technology solutions. Specifically, the study introduces the rise of the B2B Social Buyer, who consumes information voraciously and from a variety of sources during the purchase process. The B2B Social Buyer is very different from the Traditional Buyer, who still prefers research reports, in-person seminars, print collateral, sales calls, or private briefings.

At the same time, the data shows a dramatic change in the role of peer influence in the decision-making process. Peers, while still important as a source of referrals, recommendations, and references, are no longer the best source of information. Industry analysts and technology provider contacts are now seen as equally credible—or even more credible—sources of information than peers. The study also found that buyers gain access to their peers via social media and online communities.

“We haven’t seen a change in buyer behavior like this since we introduced the idea of the new buyer reality almost a decade ago,” said Dave Munn, President and CEO of ITSMA. “At that time, Internet use exploded, which created a fundamental shift in power from the seller to the buyer. Technology is also the catalyst for the current shift in buyer behavior, but this time, social media is driving the change.”

ITSMA data shows that 91% of B2B buyers who were surveyed are using social media during the purchase process, which Munn sees as both a challenge and an opportunity for B2B marketers. “Most solution providers are behind the curve when it comes to fully embracing social media. Those that are out ahead of competitors have the potential to expand their mind share,” Munn explained.

The survey data also shows that 96% of B2B social buyers rate thought leadership content, such as the research, analysis, and advice often found in reports, white papers, Webcasts, and articles, as important or critical in choosing a provider.

“These findings are significant to marketers because the B2B social buyers are the ones who are investing more aggressively in technology,” said Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership, of ITSMA. “If B2B solution providers want to reach this audience, they will have to revolutionize the way they market and sell to buyers.”

ITSMA has published the results of the survey, along with analysis and insights, in The Rise of the B2B Social Buyer: Results from the ITSMA How Buyers Consume Information Survey, 2011 report. The report highlights the best ways for B2B marketers to target social buyers, as well as traditional buyers, so they can develop an integrated customer engagement program that is tied to the business strategy. The report can be found at:

Study Methodology
In September and October 2011, ITSMA surveyed, via the Web, 465 business and IT executives with purchase authority for business or technology solutions for individual contracts over $500,000. These respondents represented larger enterprises, with 60% having $1 billion or more in annual revenue from seven different countries: US, UK, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, and India.

Respondents were interviewed in the following vertical markets:

• Manufacturing (Consumer/Industrial, process/discrete)
• Financial Services (Banking, Insurance (except healthcare), and investments)
• Communications (Telecom, media, entertainment)
• Energy/Utilities/Oil/Mining/Gas
• Government/Public Sector (Federal/State; no local or education)
• Healthcare (Payer, provider, and benefits)

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ITSMA provides research, consulting, and training to the world’s leading technology, communications, and professional services providers.
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