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Millennials, Distrustful of Vendor Claims, Making More Tech Buying Decisions

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A new business technology-purchasing study shows that customers distrust their vendors’ sales pitches.

The TrustRadius B2B Buying Disconnect study interviewed 438 buyers and 240 vendors to see how each side approaches a sale. One of the broad takeaways is that buyers are feeling “more empowered” to do their own research apart from what vendors tell them.

“But buyers recognize that even outside sources have their limitations and biases,” TrustRadius wrote in the lengthy report. “Many buyers said that using distributed information from a range of sources is more trustworthy and influential than any one source in particular, especially when the sources show consensus.”

The main conclusions for the study are threefold. First, vendors “focus on providing material that buyers don’t find very useful or trustworthy.” The second is that buyers don’t even expect vendor claims to be trustworthy. Lastly, vendors pepper potential customers with unhelpful informational material because they “see their role as strategic.” But according to the study, buyers said see the buyer’s role as “pragmatic.”

In other words, the manufacturers of technology products are failing to understand how little control they have in influencing the decision of a potential customer. They may want to be a trusted adviser, but they can’t be.

The internet is one of the factors allowing customers to find unbiased anecdotes about how a product fared. The first graph below shows product demonstrations as the most frequently used source of information, with user reviews in second.

TrustRadius

Graphic courtesy of TrustRadius

Meantime, product demos trail behind product trials, persona experiences and referrals from other people when it comes to trustworthiness. Notice how vendor-produced informational and marketing content falls flat on the trust scale.

TrustRadius

Graphic courtesy of TrustRadius

Scott Rosen, who serves as vice president of technology at Guardian Credit Union and participated in the survey, says the internet has significantly changed the buying process. User reviews had the biggest influence on his company’s latest IT infrastructure purchase.

And one of the selling points for Rosen was that a vendor didn’t patronize him and his buying team. Rather, the vendor “was very forthcoming about the product’s limitations.” Instead, Rosen spoke with customers that had already tried the product.

“I have no problem with account reps, and our sales person was top notch, but they drink the Kool-Aid; they are always going to sell the product and talk it up,” Rosen said.

Another important facet of the Buying Disconnect Study is age. The plurality of the buyers responding to the survey – 45 percent – were between 25 and 34 years old. Thirty percent were between 35 and 44. This fits well with other studies in the channel that say millennials will dominate the purchasing force within the next 10 years.

And as a Spiceworks IT buying study indicated last month, the younger generation approaches vendors much differently. For millennials, personal experiences with the supplier are more influential than …

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