Product reliability and ease of use are key for business-to-business technology marketers, according to a recent survey of technology product and service decision makers throughout the United States.

Four hundred B2B tech buyers participated in the survey, conducted for Lavidge by WestGroup Research. Lavidge released the results on Thursday.

Overall, 68 percent cited reliability as the most critical criterion in their purchase decisions; 64 percent said ease of use was key.

Decision Making Process

Among preferred marketing tactics, 40 percent of the decision makers ranked meeting marketers in person during the consideration phase of the purchase as their top preference. About 36 percent preferred recommendations of colleagues and friends, while 35 percent gave first preference to pricing.

During initial discovery:

  • 52 percent of tech buyers turned to referrals from colleagues and friends;
  • 39 percent used search engines;
  • 34 percent consulted vendor websites;
  • 28 percent attended conferences and trade shows;
  • 27 percent turned to product brochures; and
  • only 4 percent responded positively to telemarketing and cold calls.

The report considers B2B email marketing and social media message blasts where recipients aren’t prequalified with a reasonable expectation of receiving the message as cold calls.

How to Drum Up Business

Companies can use various tactics to encourage referrals, including paying advocates, the report suggests.

However, unless there’s a value driver for a referral, “there is no value to a large firm to spend time advocating for a vendor,” said Lisa Anderson, president of LMA Consulting Group.

“A paid referral may not be looked upon favorably,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Further, large firms have guidelines around vendor compensation and initiatives.

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Published in eCommerce Times on Dec. 4, 2017